Place: Uva Wine Bar
Neighborhood: Upper East Side, 1486 Second Ave. (at E. 77th St.)
The scoop: Believe it or not, before our trip to Uva Wine Bar, the Gang hadn’t brunched together since July because of our crazy schedules! Uva Wine Bar is an adorable and romantic restaurant, and it was the perfect place for the four of us to brunch together. Uva is all about the ambiance. As you enter the restaurant, you walk into a cozy antique-looking bar area with a fireplace. The walls are exposed brick, and pretty chandeliers, flowers and candles decorate the room. There is a garden open year round and is kept warm with heating lamps and a closed roof. We sat in the garden, and the décor made it seem like we were in an Italian café. The restaurant is suitable for couples and large parties, and surprisingly, on a late Sunday morning, it was not full.
Our waitress was nice and did a decent job answering our questions about the menu. When Stephanie was unsure about a drink, the waitress gave a good enough description, which swayed Stephanie not to order the drink. Victoria had a question about two brunch dishes, and while the server didn’t go into detail about either entrée, she did say that “both dishes are good, and it depends what you are in the mood for.” Our food was brought out very quickly.
Bottoms up: Uva offers a $17.50 brunch special. The deal includes an entrée, side dish and a brunch cocktail or glass of house wine. The prices for the drinks are pretty steep if you’re paying per drink.
Fragosa $11.50 / Prosecco, Fragoli Wild Strawberry liqueur
This was a fun drink. The strawberry taste was just right and was not too powerful, and the drink was not super sweet. There were also raspberries in the drink, which kept moving up and down because of the fizz. It was kind of like watching a lava lamp!
Adult Lemonade $10 / Vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water, fresh mint
I really enjoyed the lemonade. Although the drink lacked vodka, it had a nice taste of lemony sweetness and a good balance of mint.
Mimosa $10 / Prosecco, fresh orange juice
Would this mimosa be worth $10 if you didn’t get the brunch special? No, however, no mimosa is worth $10. I have no complaints about the actual taste of the drink. It was strong and was made with prosecco, not champagne, which is always a plus in my book.
Chew on this: Fresh bread and olive oil is served to each table.
Hot foccacia $7 / Filled with Nutella cream
We all love Nutella, so we thought we’d give this a try as an appetizer. Although we enjoyed this foccacia, it is listed as a main dish on the menu, and we all agreed that we would be pretty disappointed if this was our entrée. It was served on a cutting board and cut into four pieces, which was perfect for the four of us to share. The foccacia was toasted, so it made the Nutella just a little melty. There was ample amount of Nutella spread on the foccacia.
French toast $9 / Made with Italian sweet bread
The French toast did not really impress me. The citrusy taste of the toast reminded us of the Panettone bread (the bread that comes in the big red box that is popular during Christmas time). The pieces of strawberry made the toast a little more enjoyable to eat. I would have enjoyed this dish more if it was served with more strawberries.
Contadina frittate $10 / Potatoes, sausage, red onions, asiago cheese
I opted to get this made with egg whites. Although the sausage taste was not overpowering, most of the flavor came from the sausage. I don’t even think there were any red onions in this frittata. The cheese flavor was also quite mild. The potatoes were soft and spread throughout the frittata. I was also given a small bowl of home fries. The home fries were a little hard and tasted like frozen Ore Ida potatoes right out of the bag. This wasn’t the best frittata I’ve ever had, but it is a decent option.
Strawberry and mascarpone pancake $9
When we made our brunch reservation for Uva, they encouraged us to try the strawberry and mascarpone pancake. When a restaurant acknowledges a dish as their specialty, you expect great things. I would say I got a good, not great, thing. The actual pancake was tasty — it was fluffy and of a good texture. I know that mascarpone is a sweet cheese, mostly used in desserts, but I didn’t expect it to be so sweet. It didn’t even taste like cheese; to be honest, it tasted like fresh whipped cream. You definitely don’t need syrup when eating the pancake, unless you want to go into a sugar coma after brunch. People who read the blog know I love sweets, but it was just too much for me. Also, I must have missed that the menu stated ‘pancake’ and not pancakes because I was surprised when I was served one giant pancake. I did like that strawberries were included in the dish. Pancakes and fruit are always a good combination.
Rustica frittate $9 / Italian bacon, mushrooms, artichokes, smoked mozzarella
The rustica frittate was shaped like a pie. I assumed that this would have lots of flavor being that it contained Italian bacon, mushrooms, artichokes and smoked mozzarella, but this was not the case. I found myself dumping salt and pepper on it, but that did not help. It was cooked well, but overall, I was really unimpressed with this dish. (Note that I was the only one who didn’t do the brunch special.)
Two of us ordered this as a side to complement the sweet dishes that we ordered. The sausage had a funky taste that neither one of us was expecting. It tasted almost burnt, but the actual sausage wasn’t burnt. Needless to say, it wasn’t great. It was also pretty oily.
I eat polenta pretty frequently at home. It lacks flavor, so I usually add my homemade tomato sauce to sliced polenta. Since I never see this on a brunch menu, I was really excited to try Uva’s. I figured that they had some cool twist on conventional polenta. The waitress also told me that it was “really good.” However, I was disappointed. I was expecting it to be jazzed up with cheese or garlic to give it some flavor, but this mashed polenta was very bland.
The final bite: Uva Wine Bar is a cute and cozy restaurant that is perfect for a date or catching up with the girls. We really wanted to love it based on the ambiance, but the brunch food wasn’t quite what we hoped it would be.
Reviewed by: Brunch Gang