Place: In Vino
Neighborhood: East Village, 215 E. 4th St. (between Avenues A and B)
The scoop: I was one of a party of four, and we each had a Gilt City voucher for brunch at In Vino. Our reservation was the first one of the day just when the wine bar opened. We’re lucky we arrived when we did because as we brunched the small restaurant got more crowded. I’m usually skeptical about brunch deals, but reviews for In Vino were good, and I expected a lot out of this bargain brunch.
The spot had an intimate atmosphere and resembled a wine cellar, which we all thought was cool. We felt like we were underground. We sat at a table up against the window. Two of the seats were windows seats, which were uncomfortable because of the very flimsy cushion. Service was good in the beginning but gradually got worse as the place filled up. There was only one person acting as the server, bartender, hostess, etc. For a place that seems popular for brunch, they really should have had more staff on hand. I’m surprised she wasn’t cooking the meals, too!
With our Gilt City deal, we each got a brunch cocktail, starter and entrée for $12.
Bottoms up: For our cocktail we got a choice of red/white sangria, mimosa or bloody Mary. Both the red and white sangria were very strong and were served in big glasses. As most white sangria, it was sweeter than the red. There were apple and orange pieces in each. There isn’t much to say about the mimosa. It was strong, and I enjoyed it.
Chew on this:
Rosemary muffins and strawberry butter / Complimentary
We got excited when the rosemary muffins and strawberry butter were served to us on a cutting board. The presentation was great, but the muffins weren’t so great. They were cold and very crumbly, making it difficult to eat them and spread the butter on them. I would have liked the butter, which consisted of chopped strawberries and pieces of butter, to have more strawberry flavor.
Prima Colazione Classico / Cinnamon ricotta fritters drizzled with Sicilian honey with unlimited espresso
Sweet heaven on a plate! The cinnamon ricotta fritters were essentially fried dough balls with a side of warm honey. This dish was very sweet, more dessert-like than an appetizer. They reminded me of zeppoles that are sold at street fairs, except these were more doughy and had a more of a taste with cinnamon and powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
Farm fresh yogurt with honey
This yogurt was great! It tasted very fresh and was packed with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and granola. Honey was drizzled over the yogurt. I’m glad there weren’t many raisins because I could have done without them.
Insalata Couri Di Palma / Hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes and avocado with balsamic
This salad was a big hit with the guys. Besides its being a huge helping, the salad was very colorful with pieces of tomato, hearts of palm and avocado in a balsamic vinaigrette. One thing that stood out was the size of all the vegetables. They were all a uniform size and chopped with detail. The hearts of palm was so hearty we thought they were pieces of cheese.
Uovo Benedetto / Warm poached eggs on rosemary focaccia toast with grilled prosciutto cotto and basil hollandaise
Uovo Benedetto is the Italian take on eggs Benedict. The eggs were poached well and the basil hollandaise was quite tasty. Unfortunately, the focaccia bread was very hard to cut — so much so that we had to ask for sharper knives. The prosciutto was different from other prosciutto I’ve had. Usually, the meat is soft, but this was hard and crispy, like bacon. We didn’t expect to get potatoes with our meal, but we did! And they were well flavored with tomatoes, red pepper, parsley and onion.
Pane Tostato Mandorla / Almond French toast stuffed with strawberry mascarpone
This French toast dish was very good. One of the things I liked the most was that the strawberry mascarpone wasn’t chunky and overstuffing the bread. It had a liquidy texture which spread nicely. There were lots of almonds baked on top of the bread. Normally, I use syrup on my French toast, but In Vino’s version didn’t need any. Since the syrup wasn’t maple and tasted like Aunt Jemima’s, using the syrup on the French toast would have ruined the dish.
Rigatoni Ragu / Rigatoni in a pork sausage and lamb ragu
I was deciding between a few dishes, but the pasta sounded great, and I was very pleased with my choice. This entrée was very hearty and was more of a lunch-type food and not a traditional brunch item. There was a perfect amount of sauce for the pasta as none of the noodles were dry. This meal was comforting and warm on a crisp fall day.
The final bite: In Vino may be a wine bar, but they do a solid brunch as well. Although they need to beef up the staff on weekends, we left feeling full and satisfied without having to break the bank.
Reviewed by: Stephanie