52 Greenwich Ave., nr. Perry St.; 212-633-2590
There is no term more overused these days than “wine bar,” which seems to have come to mean any place that serves the stuff. At Gottino, a charmingly old-world sort of place in the West Village, it means much, much more. There’s the wine, yes—all Italian, presented on an official permanent list and a daily changing specials blackboard—but also an extremely appealing, ingredient-fetishizing menu of snacks, salads, crostini, and inventive small plates. The second-most-overused phrase in the culinary language is “local and seasonal,” but Gottino truly is, topping its winter crostini with butternut squash or escarole and making lively salads from Brussels-sprout leaves and crème fraîche–moistened blood-orange segments. It’s cramped, cozy, and friendly in a very low-key way, which only makes the food and drink that much more impressive. And in a city of manufactured rusticity, Gottino’s seems entirely unforced, down to the mason jars stuffed with chicken-liver pâté, and the Virginia ham we saw aging in the basement.