About 2 months ago, Andrew and I went on a spur of the moment trip to New York – well, it really was a work trip for him, but a proper trip gorge-and-stuff-myself-silly trip for me! I had only booked my ticket 2 days before heading off, so I didn’t get a chance to do much research. It was actually on one of my wanders through the West Village, when I noticed this small and cozy little wine bar, half full on a Monday afternoon. The crowd was having a mix of tapas salads, and fresh pasta, and everything looked so good! Its located at the end of a quieter street, definitely not a tourist trap, and was filled with locals – I had a feeling I found a gem! This place actually didn’t have their restaurant name outside, I actually had to ask the waitress what the name was – Cotenna (which is also the Italian word for bacon rind – love it!!). I’m SO GLAD I ended up stumbling across this place! I ended up coming back here twice, and is definitely one of the most memorable meals I’ve had this year.
For my first solo meal, I stopped off for a Monday-to-Friday lunch deal: $16 for a delicious plate of fresh pasta, and a large glass of wine. There were about 10+ different pastas on the sheet, including truffle gnocchi, and a lobster ravioli, but I decided to try their truffle mac n cheese. It arrived piping hot, and is honestly one of the best macs I’ve ever had!! It was both creamy, and stringy, the truffle wasn’t too overwhelming. It also came with a basket of crusty bread, and olives / olive oil. I still made room for a raw oyster, since they have a daily $1 deal until 7pm. Unfortunately, it was actually quite a bit pile of sand in the shell – it looked like they didn’t take the time to even rinse the oyster. I’m not sure what was going on that day, but the service was pretty lacking – they forgot to bring the bread and oil, and I had to keep flagging someone down to take my order and clear the plates. The food was really good, and I really wanted to try the tapas, so I was willing to come back, and hope that the bad service was just a one-off instance.
Andrew and I tried to go to Cotenna for a late dinner on Saturday night – but even though we arrived at 9pm (and they were open until 1am), we were turned away and told they had reservations booked all through the night! The place was packed with locals, and had such a good vibe inside, I wish we could have been seated for their dinner service, but oh well – we were back the next day for lunch, right on the dot at noon. We decided to share the truffle gnocchi and lobster ravioli, a few raw oysters, and a lamb chop tapas dish. OH MY GOD – let me just say, I’m not usually a fan of gnocchi, but this just knocked it out of the park for me! The gnocchi was fresh, and was set under the salamander with cheese to give it a nice golden crispy crust. Even though we were picking at the dish through our meal, the cream sauce didn’t clump up at all! The lobster ravioli was OK for me, not as memorable. The oysters were really fresh and clean – no sand! However – the main stars of the meal were the delicious lamb chops.. they were amazing! For a tapas, this was nice and thickly cut, with a nicely seasoned crust on the outside, but it had a perfect red/pink center and just melted in my mouth. Hands down, I think these are the best chops I’ve EVER had! I wanted to order more, but I was stuffed to the bone! Another note on the service – it was significantly better than my first visit, possibly because the manager was there and making sure everyone was taken care of.
Anyhow, I still dream of those lamb chops, and they have a pretty delicious variety of different tapas, salads, pastas, cheeses and cured meats – not to mention a vast wine bar! If I get to go back to New York, I know where I’m headed!
21 Bedford Street
New York, NY