N, R at Prince St.; B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
An unobtrusive little place in an unobtrusive, even problematic location, Centovini sits on the bottom floor of a bland redbrick building on the northern fringe of Soho. But as soon you get inside, it's clear that unobtrusiveness is one of this restaurant's particular charms. As the name indicates, Centovini (“100 wines”) isn't even a restaurant, technically. It's a small-size wine bar, with a long white-marble bar for drinking these wines and a glass-enclosed store next door for buying them. The walls are colored in hues of gray and black, and the stools lining the bar are made of white leather. A series of colorful handblown Italian chandeliers hang here and there like oversize sculptural artifacts, and they help to accentuate the feeling that develops, after a glass of Barolo or two, of a kind of intimate, even stylish coziness. It used to be that dinner at the bar consisted of a plate of oysters, possibly, a cheeseburger with pickles, or a boiled egg. But with the arrival of restaurants like Masa and, more recently, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, this long-neglected genre has been undergoing a renaissance all around town. At Centovini (the venture is a collaboration between the owners of the high-end Soho design store Moss and Nicola Marzovilla, owner of the Gramercy Italian restaurant I Trulli), you can enjoy bowls of cialledda (tomato salad with chunks of rustic Tuscan bread) with your glass of '04 Ronco dei Tassi (a medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, from Friuli), and slices of pecorino and piave cheese bolstered with ribbons of fresh prosciutto and speck. The chef at Centovini is Patti Jackson, an Alto veteran and devout Greenmarketeer. The menu she and Marzovilla have put together is straightforward Italian, with a few seasonal flourishes, but the restaurant’s modest size, and the focus on wine, give everything an extra, unexpected punch.Recommended Dishes
Veal cheeks, $32; chocolate pudding, $10