Italian Bar With $4,000 Bottles of Wine by the Glass Coming to TriBeCa

By Julie Shapiro on May 10, 2012 12:25pm 

Paolo Meregalli, owner of Mulino a Vino, presented his plans to Community Board 1 May 9, 2012.
Paolo Meregalli, owner of Mulino a Vino, presented his plans to Community Board 1 May 9, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

TRIBECA — A posh Italian bar where patrons can pop a cork and purchase $4,000 bottles of wine by the glass is on its way to TriBeCa.

Paolo Meregalli, who works in the wine and restaurant business in Italy, hopes to open Mulino a Vino by mid-September at 279 Church St. as a showcase for his family's wines.

To make the wines accessible, Meregalli plans to offer customers a chance to taste even the $4,000 bottles by the glass, though he did not say how much those glasses would cost.

"We want to give [everyone] the experience," Meregalli said.

Meregalli believes good wine is best enjoyed when all of the drinker's senses are stimulated, so he will also offer live acoustic music and a rotating menu of mostly cold dishes, including a tartare of tuna, swordfish and zucchini and a tasting platter of aged cheeses with preserves, honey and walnuts.

Meregalli owns another Mulino a Vino in Italy and said he was eager to bring a similar concept to New York for the first time.

While some neighbors said at a Community Board 1 meeting Wednesday night that they were concerned about noise from the new wine bar, many said they would welcome the establishment.

"It would be a spectacular addition to the neighborhood," said Paul Cantor, a CB1 member. "If you're sitting there drinking a $25 glass of wine, it's not going to be people sitting there getting plowed. I think [it will be] a higher-class experience."

After a discussion with the neighbors, Meregalli agreed to close at midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends and CB1's Tribeca Committee voted unanimously to support his liquor license. The board's vote is advisory and the State Liquor Authority will make a final decision.

Also Wednesday night, restaurateur Jacob Rabinowitz unveiled his plans to open a bar and eatery called The Balcony in the shuttered Mocca Lounge at 78 Reade St., although it could be derailed by community concerns.

Chef Chaz Brown, who is currently starring in Bravo's reality show "Around the World in 80 Plates," has signed on to lead the kitchen, and a preliminary menu includes portobello fries, sesame seared tuna salad, pesto parmesan risotto and lamb ragu served over papparadelle.

"It's healthy [and] it's fresh," Brown said of his concept, which he hopes will appeal to both lunch and late-night crowds.

Rabinowitz applied to stay open until 4 a.m. seven days a week, so The Balcony can serve chefs and restaurant workers who eat dinner long after midnight, but residents objected at Wednesday night's meeting, fearing noise and drunk patrons.

"Reade Street is turning into Bourbon Street," said Mark Dimor, 63, a TriBeCa resident. "[Bar-goers] urinate on the walls... It's noisy as hell."

The Tribeca Committee voted to restrict The Balcony's hours to midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends.

Rabinowitz said he was unsure whether he could build a viable business with those hours. He plans to notify the community board within the next few days on whether he will move forward with the project.

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