This Bite-Sized Blonde is an Uptown Girl – born and raised. Okay, well not really, well really not at all. But I’ve been on the Upper East Side for ten formative years now, so that’s got to count for something, right? While, the UES isn’t exactly known as the coolest culinary community, it isn’t exactly lacking either.
Case in point, Felice Wine Bar. The deliciously inclined folks at St. Ambroeus and Casa Lever have another great restaurant in their family. Felice is conveniently located, for me, on the Upper East Side. The location brought me in, but the food and the service keep me coming back again and again, literally. I’ve been known to frequent Felice several times in a week, just ask Jake, the manager. Embarrassed or proud? I’ll stick with the latter.
The restaurant has about 20 tables, both inside and out, plus one, big communal table. They also have seating at the bar, which is a great alternative if there are no tables available when you get there. Since they only take reservations if you’re a party of six or more, it’s a sad possibility.
I have made my way through most of the menu, so I’ll share a few of my favorites and most recent orders. Many of the pastas are homemade – but my favorite is the simplest one on the menu: Fresca Di Campagna – penne pasta with plum tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella. The pasta has a nice bite and the tomato sauce is so simple you can taste the integrity of the tomatoes. The combination of sweet sauce and fresh basil is intoxicating. This is far from your mom’s spaghetti sauce, unless of course your mom is the chef at Felice.
Burrata is hands-down one of the best cheeses, ever. It’s flavorful and mellow all at the same time. It is not always on the menu, but if you happen to be lucky enough to get burrata on the specials menu for the night, order it. Burrata with prosciutto was a recent special that I could not pass up. This dish starts with salty prosciutto which sits on a bed of spicy arugula. It’s topped with the creamy burrata and then drizzled with the most sinful olive oil. The combination is expected but nothing else is. The olive oil accents the delicate cheese perfectly and the salty prosciutto and clean and crisp arugula come together like beautiful Italian poetry. You don’t have to speak Italian to understand this cultural lovefest.
Branzino is a great fish. It’s like a signature Louis Vuitton bag; it’s neutral and something that everyone likes. The Branzino alla Griglia at Felice is perfect if you are in the mood for something light. It is stuffed with herbs and then simply grilled to give the fish that great grill flavor.
Sometimes, you just need a piece of meat, and Felice is great for that too. Their Tagliata di Manzo – grilled sliced sirloin – is a one of my favorites. The meat is tender and flavorful, yet surprisingly light for red meat. It is served over a bed of spicy arugula salad. Add a drizzle of Felice’s olive oil and you are in business.
So, the next time you are on the Upper East Side make sure to stop by Felice. Your stomach will thank you.
Felice Wine Bar
1166 First Ave (64th Street)
New York, NY