Centro Vinoteca: 74 7th ave south. NY NY

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I LOVE when my dear friend Betsy realizes that groupons and other various deals are about to expire and turns to me as her trusty last minute lunch companion. This was a great one, and I was really psyched to be invited.

When I first walked in to Centro Vinoteca, the atmosphere was striking. Lots of clean, white lines, quirky cool chandeliers and huge windows looking out onto 7th ave. Water and bread were brought out immediately and the waiter told us our wine choices. (The deal included 2 apps, 2 entrees and 2 glasses of wine) We both ordered the Sauvignon Blanc and perused the menu while we enjoyed the delicious bread and olive oil.

As always, we decided to share everything. We started with the arugula salad, which in the menu was described as accompanied by pecans, gorgonzola and mission figs, but in reality came with pecans, apples and tomatoes. Hmm. Very tasty, but a bit disappointing that the description was clearly incorrect. I love figs and there were none in sight. If, perhaps, the dressing was where the figs were hidden, I could not detect them at all. The lack of gorgonzola was fine since the other dishes we chose were plenty heavy, but I think they should definitely clarify this salad’s ingredients in the menu. Next we shared the eggplant parmigiana appetizer at the waiter’s suggestion. He was correct, it was indeed wonderful. The eggplant were sliced thinly and not breaded at all which I strongly prefer over heavily breaded and fried eggplant where you can’t even tell what it is. Inside was creamy mozzarella and a light tomato sauce. This was a great dish.

For our entrees we had the gnocchi with bolognese which was awesome. Surprisingly light tasting for such a heavy dish. It was warm, hearty and full of flavor. With a dusting of parmesan on top it left nothing to be desired. We also shared the mushroom and fontina panini which was just slightly too oily, but crisp, melty and full of meaty roasted mushrooms. It was also served with a side of pickles and arugula which we hardly touched since we’d already had plenty of arugula at the start.

Feeling the carb coma setting in, we decided to each order a cappuccino which was a really special treat. I usually only drink coffee drinks with skim or low fat milk, but since they only had whole milk I decided I may as well indulge. After all, this was in lieu of dessert. It was foamy, cinnamony, rich and creamy, exactly as it should be, and was the perfect ending to this Italian meal.

I would absolutely recommend this restaurant to others if you are in the area. The service was excellent, and the lunch crowd was quiet. We were in and out in about an hour, with plenty of time to chat. The only negative was that the menu wasn’t accurate, not only with the salad mess up, but also because something else we initially ordered was no longer available. As far as I’m concerned, those are fairly minor flaws and the fantastic food more than made up for it. Check it out!

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