Anfora, Dell'anima's winebar offshoot that opened its doors Tuesday night, feels a bit like a waiting room. The space, just a few doors down from the popular West Village trattoria, was formerly a real estate office and despite modest renovations, including low tables and leather banquettes, it still feels a little sterile and unwelcoming.
But for the perpetually packed Dell'anima, the winebar is -- if not particularly elegant -- at least a utilitarian solution to their limited space. After all, what better place to send patrons who are waiting for a table than your own establishment?
While the success of Anfora -- named for an ancient Greece and Roman style of of wine-making that uses large terra cotta pots called amphorae to ferment the wine -- will depend largely on the reputation and proximity to its big sister, it is not a bad place to stop in for a glass of wine and a light snack of cheese, charcuterie or, for more of a meal, a panini or lamb slider. The wine list is organized by regions, with one winemaker from each region highlighted, complete with a bio, a summary of his winemaking methods and philosophy and a photograph. And the selection is hardly something to shrug off (the amphorae-aged wine from Italy is interesting, if not a bargain -- then again, the Italian winemaker was accosted by the Georgian mafia while securing his terra cotta pots...).
But if you're looking for a cozy neighborhood spot to hunker down on a rainy Tuesday, you'd probably be better off at La Shrappe -- a quiet, comfortable Turkish winebar across from Abingdon Square Park that also opened recently.
Unless of course your plans for the evening include the homemade pasta and award-winning bruschette at Dell'anima, then by all means, there are worse places to wait than Anfora.