Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen, 645 9th Ave. (between 45th and 46th Streets)
The scoop: I could not help my curiosity of a newly opened Vucciria. Walking by Vucciria sparked my interest in trying the ultra modern wine bar out for brunch. Although they do not have outdoor sidewalk seating, they have great open floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for a great breeze and lot of natural light to flood through. As I entered Vucciria, I couldn’t help but admire all of the modern decor — cherry wood detailing, great artwork on the walls, a roomy front bar and several back tables. All of this creates some expectation to diners that the food will be good. Overall, the restaurant seemed to be going to for an authentic Italian style, but with a modern, open-air market feel.
The server was Italian. She was a little difficult to understand, but I did not mind. However, the service was slow — I did not drink as much as I wanted for an unlimited brunch — and questions about the menu were answered poorly. As a result, our dishes weren’t what we were expecting.
Bottoms up: To our surprise there was a two-hour unlimited drink special during brunch (until 4 p.m.) for an additional $20. Since I have done the unlimited drinks during brunch several times before, I knew this was not a great deal, but we decided to participate because one drink was at least $10. All of the drinks were pre-made in pitchers.
The bellini tasted more like a mimosa, so either the server did not know the difference or they did not make it well. You can even see it looks like a mimosa in the photo!
This bloody Mary tasted pretty spicy. You could taste the vodka, which is a good thing for those wanting to get drunk during brunch. It really was not too bad and was a little better then the bellini.
Chew on this:
Eggs Benedict $13 / With Maryland crab cake
My boyfriend doesn’t do runny eggs, so he always asks for scrambled with eggs Benedict, which has never compromised the taste and value of the dish … until Vucciria. The photo shows how plain and lame it looks. It’s as if they did not know how to deliver the dish without runny eggs. The English muffins were served dry and separately from the eggs (which were a small portion) and crab cake. Yup, you read that right — cake not cakes. There was only one tiny little crab cake. It was basically a joke, and clearly not what you expect. The server pointed out that the menu reads “crab cake.” The handful of home fries was the only thing on his plate with flavor.
French toast $14 / With mixed berries, bacon or sausage
This dish was small. It did not matter too much to me, but you expect it to be larger than an appetizer. The side of bacon/sausage did not even come with it; my friend had to ask the server. The French toast was kind of flat and mushy. This definitely was not one of the better French toast dishes I’ve had.
Prosciutto e mozz panini $12 / Prosciutto di Parma, buffalo mozzarella and basil pesto spread, and side salad
This was the best item out of our three dishes. This restaurant is not ready for the brunch market. This sandwich was a great value and everything you expected (and maybe a little more). The mozzarella cheese oozed out just right, and the pesto-and-prosciutto combo really gave the sandwich flavor. One thing that really bothered me was the menu reads “side salad included,” and I was served a side of fries. They were good, but I wanted the salad. It seemed like too big of a hassle (given the track record during the last hour) to ask for the switch.
The final bite: I wouldn’t recommend Vucciria for brunch. Overall, the service was not great, so I don’t know if I would even go back for happy hour or dinner. With a perfect Theater District location and modern Italian decor, I hope they get it right soon.
Reviewed by: Erica