Red Hook has had a great culinary year. First, Fairway opened, bringing outstanding produce and just about anything else the food-obsessed crave. In September, along came Tini Wine Bar, a cozy, 25-seat bar and eatery, to play Mutt to the mega-market’s Jeff.
“It’s very pretty, simple and unpretentious,” says Monica Byrne, the chef and one of the three owners (co-partners are Leisah Swenson and Tina Luongo) of the brick-walled, tin-ceiled space. “We had a bachlorette party show up dressed to the nines as well as people covered in paint, wearing torn jeans. Everyone’s welcome.”
The international wine list is 75 percent organic and biodynamic with small women-owned vineyards among the mix.
“Our wines are reasonably priced and excellent, with several glasses each night in the $5 to $7 range,” says Byrne. (Wines by the glass top out at $12.) Beverages from small bottlers like Dry Soda, a West Coast vendor who specializes in soft drinks, are offered in unusual flavors such as lavender.
Beer is either Belgian or from American microbreweries, and says Byrne, “We have the best espresso in Red Hook.” She purchases beans from Martha and Brothers, a specialty roaster in San Francisco.
Byrne, who cooked for the Liberty Heights Tap Room and owns the catering company Roquette — both are Red Hook-based businesses — shops locally whenever possible. Every day, a selection of eight to 10 artisanal cheeses is available, as well as charcuterie. Her grilled panini, like the prosciutto, arugula and robiola cheese (a creamy Italian made from sheep’s and cow’s milk) with lemon oil is popular with her clientele.
Desserts at Tini (named for its diminutive size) aren’t an afterthought. Her creamy, brittle-crusted flourless chocolate torte attests to her training as a pastry chef.