One of the most wonderful things about fine dining in New York, is that you can find it anywhere. Whether it’s a hole in the wall or a luxurious eatery, great food is everywhere.
Recently on a trip to the West Village, I stumbled upon a tiny Italian restaurant and wine bar. Nestled on a quiet street adjacent to the usual hustle and bustle of the city, this cozy restaurant does little in the way of advertising the gem that it truly is. Aside from the red door and menu stand in front, one might easily overlook this wine bar.
I hadn’t read anything about this restaurant prior to going, but was drawn in by the day’s special of a grilled octopus salad. As soon as I stepped inside, this Italian spot reminded me of another little wine bar on Perry Street (also in the West Village) called, “Aria” . The same clean and sophisticated look echoed throughout the tables and decor of this location as the other, and I would later learn that both locations share the same owner. The host asked if I would prefer the bar or a table, and as I only had a brief moment to eat a late lunch, I sat at the bar. When he brought the menu I was overwhelmed by the options. This was also the first time that I saw the name of the restaurant, Cotenna.
The Melanzane E Caprino looked incredible, as did the fettuccine ai funghi. Another table ordered what looked like the aragosta E Avocado. And I was very tempted to order this perfectly steamed lobster tail and lobster pieces resting on a verdant bed of arugula, accompanied by slices of avocado and a lemon on the side. This salad was served as a very full portion – not heaping, but enough to ensure that the patron leaves Cotenna completely satisfied.
While I would heartily recommend this option to anyone, I couldn’t help but try the grilled octopus salad. Before that however, I decided to indulge by ordering a half a dozen oysters on the half shell. Apparently if you order before 7, you can indulge in the special of fresh oysters for a dollar. I didn’t ask, where the oysters were from, but based on their shells, I would imagine that they originated from Maine or Massachusetts. The shells were thick and brown and the oysters themselves were fairly briney. Even so, they were a great appetizer, and I would undoubtedly order that special again.
The waitress at the bar was very attentive and the waitstaff was extremely polite to me. However, the next time that I eat at this restaurant, I will make sure to leave more time before my next appointment.
However, the éntree eventually made its way to my seat at the bar, and the slight frustration that I had waiting for the food completely disappeared with the first bite. The grilled octopus salad comes to the patron very warm, and well-seasoned. Grilled slices of celery and potato accompany the grilled octopus and create an incredible melange of flavors with each bite.
This combined with the half dozen oysters was the perfect amount of food, and the two orders complemented each other wonderfully. I glanced over the wine list, and it looks like they have an extensive selection, and I look forward to trying it out for dinner in the near future.
All in all, I recommend Cotenna, especially if you like places like “Aria”. I would be hesitant to come back during the normal dinner rush as it is a very small restaurant and it seemed like sound carried easily. However, it’s well-worth the trip even if you have to wait for a table.