I have probably walked past this quaint wine bar at least thirty times since moving to the Upper West Side. Tucked away on 72nd between Columbus and Amsterdam, the little blue awning saying “Wine Bar – Café,” proves to be extremely deceiving and blends into the environment of Laundromats and Kinko’s surrounding it from the unknowing, tourist world. Luckily, rave reviews on Menu Pages and a quest for a wine and cheese night brought me to Riposo 72’s hidden door.
I walked inside to find a dimly lit, crowded, yet beautifully decorated restaurant. The dark wooden tables and unique lights shone from the ceiling, reflecting off the exposed brick walls. We sat down at the bar, allowing for ideal sharing opportunities. The seats were comfortable and the bartender was extremely attentive and knowledgeable. We glanced over the wonderful menu, filled with cheeses, breads and meats in every kind of variation.
Eventually we decided to order a bottle of the Cote du Rhone to start and cheese and meats. We decided to order the Chef’s Assortment of cheeses ($19), which included four different variations; Manchego, Camembert, Smoked Gouda and Port Salut. The next great debate was whether to order the chef’s assortment of meats or just one individually, which is a larger portion of the single meat. Ultimately we decided that eating another dish would probably be a good idea since cheese and meats does not count as a sufficient enough dinner. We decided upon the Sweet Soppresata, which was described as lighter flavored salami.
We sipped our delicious wine and waited for the food to be served. The waiter placed one of the most decadent cheese platters, overflowing with sides and components to elevate the flavor of the cheese. Then the large plate of meat joined the wonderful cheese spread and I could hardly contain my excitement.
I didn’t even know where to begin. I began simple, with a bite of the manchego. It was delicious. I then carefully spread the camembert on a piece of focaccia with some of the soppresata on top. It was the perfect combination of creamy and salty meat on top of the warm, buttery bread. The Port Salut tasted rich and easily became my favorite as I kept eating it plain. The smoked Gouda seemed to build flavors on itself as I continued to take bites. I went from disliking the flavor, to a real intrigue of its smoky sharp flavor. The accompaniment of the sweet, red grapes acted as the perfect palate cleanser between bites. I have a weakness for figs, so I was sure to snag all of them onto my plate. Even after we had devoured all of the cheeses, I made sure to finish off the perfect finger snacks of grapes and walnuts.
Despite all of the food, we decided that we needed one more dish to really call this meal “dinner.” We glanced over the extensive and delicious looking flatbread menu. However, when one piece came out of the oven, it looked as if one portion could serve a family of 5. It was gigantic! After asking the waitress for some advice, we settled on one of the small plates, a steak bruschetta. We ordered the steak Medium (I compromised from my usual medium-rare) and waited for this dish to arrive.
When it was placed in front of me the first word that came to mind was shock. The dish was gigantic! Gone were the days of traditional mini crostini bruschetta, instead this masterpiece of culinary delight replaced any thoughts of simple dishes of prior days.
I ended up attacking this mounting of steak and tart arugula as if it was a salad. I completely neglected the break, soaked in the delicious citrus dressing and went straight for the perfectly cooked steak. The seasoning was just right, and the balance of the arugula and parmesan and acidity from the vinaigrette made the most delicious steak salad. I ended up being silent through this part of the meal, a rarity for me, trying to enjoy and savor every single bite. It was delicious.
I will 100% be back to Riposo 72. The wait staff’s friendly demeanor made it a comfortable dining experience and seemed like a place that’s great to go back with a book and just enjoy some cheese, wonderful wine and a great atmosphere. But it’s also so perfect for a date or just a night out with friends. I am dying to go back with a bigger group to try the decadent, crispy, right out of the oven looking flat breads. They also have a location on 46th and 9th, close to work, making it a new pit stop no matter where I am.
The best thing about this restaurant is the surprising reasonable prices. For the amount of food, splitting the bill between friends would result in a more then wallet-friendly meal. Otherwise, left overs could make for a perfect lunch the next day. Riposo 72 now makes the list of one of my favorite wine bar’s in the city.
Riposo 72 – 50 West 70th Street – New York, NY
Location: Upper West Side, NY
Type: New American, Tapas
Perfect For: First Dates, Small Plates, Dining Solo, Drinks
Reservations: Not Available
Favorite Dishes: Chef’s Assortment of Cheeses, Steak Bruschetta, Grilled Cheese