Inoteca - Impressive, as expected
Went to Inoteca last night. I've tried most of sibling Ino's sandwiches before, had a great panini-to-go once from Inoteca, and so was expecting good things, and the restaurant did not disappoint.
Thoughtful, sensitive service from both the waiter and wine maven, largely excellent food (special kudos for the lasagnette) and a spirited atmosphere. Moreover, I was amazed at how leisurely paced the meal was, considering the place was jammed and there must have been 25 people waiting. (I guess management doesn't mind if people wait, so long as they're drinking wine, which, of course, has higher margins than the food.)
My few quibbles were with the noise level (excessive, had to shout to be heard) and the ratio of bread-to-filling in one panini. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the vital importance of a thin layer of sandwich filling in a panini, and can't stand it when amateur outfits over-layer theirs, but, I will say, this sandwich (breasola, fontina, rucola) was slightly too bready even under proper panini parameters, and could have used another piece of razor thinly-sliced breasola. To be fair, the proportions in my wife's panini (roasted vegetables and ricotta fresca) were perfect.
One suggestion I would make to future prospective customers: go early, which here means up to 7:30 PM, unless you want to wait (they don't accept reservations). I will say this, though, the people-watching (young, good-looking, sometimes amusingly poseurish) is so entertaining, that if I had to wait for a table with a glass of wine anywhere in NYC, this would be the spot.
I agree, one of my favorite spots in NY. To mitigate the noise factor, we've sat downstairs several times and really enjoyed the (relative) solitude.
It's really incredible to sit downstairs - I've been to two private parties down there. It has a very "wine cellar" feel. What I love about this place is that you always think you haven't ordered enough...but always end up stuffed! Hmmm I heart the truffle egg toast.