The location feels secret—lost on a side street on the pregentrified Lower East Side—and the place itself is rather dreamy. At first Bacaro looks like any other pleasant New York version of a bacaro (a Venetian wine bar serving small plates of food), with scattered café tables and a long communal plank along the window. But head downstairs into a dimly lit cellar seemingly from the Middle Ages, full of side chambers and banquet tables set with imposing candelabras, where any respectable doge would have felt at home. The scene may be historically set, but get ready for what you like best about 21st-century dining—excellent food to share in any order that you want (there is no primo or segundo here)—with the right glass of Nebbiolo or dolcetto. Maybe the risi e bisi (not a risotto-like soup but fried rice balls) sounds good with a snack of spicy fried polpette (meatballs). The lasagna (with smoked mozzarella and the famous elongated radicchio from Treviso) might be nice to have next, or perhaps you want to revisit the top of the menu for something lighter, such as the mini stuffed artichoke. If you’re still hungry, though, have the pork shank over polenta and know that someone will help you finish it. Bacaro, from the owners of the after-hours chefs’ hangout, Peasant, turns the fantasy of tantalizing bites paired with select Italian wines into a dream come true. Only the setting is unreal.

sweet seats

Any of the captivating little chambers—with plank tables seating from 2 to 16 people—will have you feeling like the lord or lady of the castle throwing a little dinner party for your noble friends. Upstairs, the sweet little wine bar is nice for a casual date.

chew on this

Bacaro, especially downstairs, is ideal for large parties, for reasons that at first seem counterintuitive: The restaurant does not take reservations and will not seat anyone until the entire group is assembled. However, that works in your favor. Since the place doesn’t fill up until around 9, you can meet your friends on the early side—say 7 to 8—and take your pick of any table in the house, er, wine cellar.


Tues.–Sun. 6 PM–12 midnight
*no reservations; closed Monday

price range for menu items

$9 (stuffed artichoke) to $18 (pork shank)


Tue-Sun: 6 PM-12 AM