Greenwich Village on a Sunday afternoon. I can’t think of a situation more harrowing given the vast amount of brunch options in an area teeming with the NYU student body.
Enter Il Bambino Panini, a lovely spot I visited on Sunday with a few friends for wine and a charcuterie/cheese plate.
The primary thing I noticed when I walked into the restaurant was how clean it was. Normally restaurants in that part of Manhattan have a dive bar-ish vibe to them even if they’re relatively high-end. I later learned that the establishment is a satellite location (2.5 months old) of an established Astoria restaurant. The new site has not been “worn in” yet. Given that, it’s difficult to say if I’ll hold the same opinion a year from now, but if it holds up, it could become a regular spot for me.
Il Bambino Panini has the distinct light airiness of a wine bar, and not the rustic dankness of a pub; I typically like the latter for Friday or Saturday nights, but for Sunday afternoon leisure, I’ll always opt for the former. The staff was friendly and attentive (a bit overly so), but that might have been because the place was relatively empty given the newness and time we decided to visit (around 5:30-ish).
The restaurant is primarily a panini place as evidenced by the numerous sandwich presses lining the wall, but we opted for wine and The High Five, which is platter that includes five cheese and/or meats of your choosing. Bresaola and Manchego are my go to combination, and they did not disappoint! On a subsequent visit, I will try the expanded menu with the large selection of paninis, but for a light snack on a Sunday afternoon, I was pleased with our choice.
On a great sunny day like Sunday, I would typically go with a Rosé at this time of year. For whatever reason, I only like to do Rosé when I’m dining al fresco. As Il Bambino didn’t have that option, I went for the Rain Sauvignon Blanc (vintage 2014), which is a wine from Malborough, New Zealand. It’s said to have notes of gooseberry, but I got more hints of passion fruit, and it was a fairly dry affair. It was fairly aromatic even without swirling, and had no real legs.
Overall, Il Bambino Panini was a great spot to have a relaxing reprieve before a busy week. I will definitely make another visit soon.