I've been watching this place take shape in the old Agatha's Deli space on the corner of 30th Av and 21st St for a while now, and they finally opened. This neighborhood doesn't have so many tasty restaurants (with the exception of Club 21 and their excellent beer and bacony pierogies). So I'm happy to see Vesta Wine Bar there 2 blocks from my apartment.
We went last night. They're open for dinner, and they have a bar with a whole lot of wines and a few beers on tap. They keep the music down to a reasonable level (it did get a little loud, but then they turned it down, to my relief). The playlist seems to have been designed to appeal to the Anglo 30-something demographic (Neutral Milk Hotel? In an Italian restaurant?)... since we are card-carrying members of that demographic, we were predictably pleased with the soundtrack.
The short menu is hitting all the price points right now... I'm hoping it keeps the less-expensive items because it's the sort of place we'll go when we don't feel like cooking. They have small plates, appetizers, a few pizzas, pastas, and meat entrees. The atmosphere is pretty nice, actually. It wasn't full when we got there at 7:30, but by 8 the place was hopping with a wine-happy crowd.
The wines (all Italian) are grouped into three price categories, from $6.50/glass to $8.50/glass. You can also buy them by the bottle and by the shot. I asked about that, and the waitress said "sometimes people just want a little bit of wine." Come to think of it, we could have tried four wines by the shot for the same price as our two glasses. Not a bad idea. We're on a budget anyhow.
We started with all three items on the small plates section of the menu: olives, beans cooked with caramelized onions, and ricotta cheese. The last 2 are served with garlicky crostini. The beans were outstanding and full of caramelized flavor, though they tended to roll off the toast. The ricotta was creamy and flecked with herbs. There weren't really enough crostini for the amount of topping, so we requested extra bread and received it right away. These items are dirt cheap, by the way... they're like $3 each.
We split the pizza with pesto, ricotta, and mozzarella. After the ricotta appetizer it was a little much, but it's our own fault for ordering all that ricotta. The pizzas are probably intended to be single-serving size, but after appetizers a split pizza is plenty. Vesta's pizza has the thinnest of crusts. It was really good. Chewy and crisp when it was warm, and light and crackery when it cooled off. This turned out to be way more than enough food, much of it consumed in the form of cheese, so we decided to finish the meal with two espressos and head home. We ended up with a tiramisu on the house as well, courtesy of the very nice owner of the restaurant. The espresso was excellent. This is a subjective category, of course. I like a very concentrated espresso with low acidity and lots of flavor, and this was a good one. The tiramisu was delicious and it was the final nail in our creamy dairy coffin.
The whole bill for the both of us, before tip, came to 33 bucks. That's not too bad. We were so full we hurt a little as we walked home.