Details: 122 E. 27th St. near Lexington Avenue; 212-481-7372; www.itrulli.com.
• Epistrophy Cafe: There’s a relaxed Bohemian vibe here, imparted by the scuffed wooden bar, exposed brick walls and eclectic, junk-shop collection of sofas, chairs and tables. The food and wine are predominantly Sardinian: the sformato di zucchini was a revelation and the Tagliere di Terra, a plate of cheese and cold cuts, a meal in itself.
Recommended: Cannonau di Sardegna, Terreforru, Meloni Vini 2007, Italy.
Details: 200 Mott St.; 212-966-0904; www.epistrophycafe.com.
• Kaia Wine Bar: Friendly service, an imaginative list of South African wines — kaia means “hut” in South Africa — and splendid food make up for the concrete floor, unadorned gray walls and metallic bar. Ever tried Buffel Frikadelle, or bison meatballs with gravy and celery root puree? Inside tip: avoid the Pinotage.
Recommended: Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Haute Cabriere 2010, Franschhoek, South Africa. And, no, that’s not a typo — it really is a Chard/PN blend, and it’s white.
Details: 1614 Third Ave. between 90th and 91st streets; 212-722-0490; kaiawinebar.com.
• Kashkaval: Peer through the storefront window and you might assume Kashkaval was just a boutique-sized Mediterranean deli. Squeeze past the display of cheese and olives, and you find yourself in a packed, tiny wine bar infused with the happy buzz of people consuming good food and wine. A variety of cheeses from 14 different countries and an enormous bowl of the best hummus I have ever tasted are the stars here.
Recommended: Chenin Blanc/Viognier, Pine Ridge 2010, Napa, California.
Details: 856 Ninth Ave., near 56th Street; 212-581-8282; www.kashkavalfoods.com.
• Morrell’s Wine Bar & Cafe: As befits its tony location overlooking Rockefeller Center, Morrell’s is the ultimate in wine bar sophistication. If you appreciate the difference between Burgundy and Brunello, you’ll fare well at this chic boite. If you don’t, the friendly, well-informed staff will be happy to guide you through their pricy offerings. The menu alone is worth a visit as it’s hard to do better in the neighborhood. Try the deviled eggs with black truffle.
Recommended: Cotes du Rhone, Delas Freres, St. Esprit 2009, Rhone, France.
Details: 1 Rockefeller Center, 49th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues; 212-262-7700; morrellwinebar.com.
• The Tangled Vine: What’s not to love about the Tangled Vine? It has a commendable selection of hidden gems, unusual bin-end lots and small-production European wines to tempt the enthusiast and curious amateur alike. Combine this with an easygoing, knowledgeable staff and fantastic food and you get pretty close to my ideal wine bar. Especially alluring are the broccoli rabe, quail egg and Parmesan crostini.
Recommended: Rosso di Montalcino, La Rasina 2008, Toscana, Italy.
Details: 434 Amsterdam Ave. and 81st Street; 646-863-3896; tangledvinebar.com.