With the words “wine bar” in its name, you might expect Sorell Wine Bar Bistro in New Rochelle to have low lights, lounge seating, and a large bar with an extensive printed out wine list.
But here, there are high and low-topped wood tables, a blackboard drink menu, and a very small three-seat bar directly in front of an open kitchen. It’s more like a restaurant that just happens to have an impressive selection of wine.
Not surprising, consider that the owners, Giovanni and Soraya Velez, own AOC Fine Wines next door. The Spanish tapas wine bar they opened in December has since been revamped, and new chef Christopher Daly is instead highlighting farm-to-table cuisine that includes small plates, first plates, main plates, panini and desserts.
The one-page menu, which changes daily, offers about 17 different options and 23 by-the-glass wines, with prices that range from $8 to $25. A recent evening featured rosemary-parmesan risotto cake with ragout of wild mushrooms; Upstate Farms kale salad with creamy garlic-anchovy dressing, sourdough croutons and lemon; and a breast of Snow Dance Farm chicken panino with basil pesto, roasted peppers and mozzarella.
Because the space is small, you can see Daly at work from almost any table. The convivial atmosphere makes it easy to ask him a specific question about the food. On the night I was there, I overheard two friends trying to decide between the hot chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream or the Hudson Valley strawberries with fresh whipped cream. “How about I help you out and give you the chocolate cake with some strawberries on the side?” said Daly. The perfect compromise.
That kind of one-on-one service — plus the fact that all wines are available for tasting before committing to a glass — makes for an evening that’s a cross between going to an intimate wine bar and a homey restaurant, giving classification in a category all by itself.
By Jeanne Muchnick
If you go…
Sorell Wine Bar Bistro. 282 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, 914-341-1579.
Hours: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Great for: Date Night, Solo Dining, Seasonal Menu, Dining at the Bar, Girls’ Night Out, Late Night Eats, Meeting for a Drink, Open Kitchen, Small Plates, Wine List.