479 74th St, Bay Ridge
s 3 out of 5 L's
Recent attempts to rally the troops to make the pilgrimage to check out the Owl’s Head were met with resistance and incredulity. “Bay Ridge? Seriously? Why would there be a wine bar there?” Really? It should come as no surprise that a couple of local guys have opened a wine bar here. It’s 2012. Wine bars are as “new” and “hip” as sun-dried tomatoes and dvds. This is no diss on the wine bar but rather a statement of fact. If Akron, Ohio has numerous wine bars, why should it come as such a shock that Bay Ridge, a historic and culturally rich neighborhood in Brooklyn, with a population exceeding 100,000 people, has one?
Inspired by a shared love of wine and a neighborhood in need, longtime Ridge resident John Avelluto, along with business partner Steven Weintraub, opened the Owl’s Head a few months back. Named after the nearby waterfront park and located on a quiet block in between the bustling restaurant rows of Third and Fifth Avenues, the Owl’s Head melds old and new Brooklyn in both form and function. Exposed brick walls culminating in a polished tin stamped ceiling; a rough-hewn maple bar lit by Edison Bulbs; a selection of sweet and salty snacks made from locally sourced ingredients—all the design signs of our time seem a little more refreshing in this hood than they do in, say, Park Slope.
The Fifth Ave-facing wall of the bar is one enormous blackboard, upon which the day’s offerings are neatly chalked. With just over a dozen pours to choose from, the list is approachable, hedging on the safe side. A note to the adventurous consumer: a few hidden gems were unearthed after speaking with our server, who happened to be Avelluto. The biggest surprise was an orange wine (a product of fresh crushed juice left in contact with grape skins, stems and seeds for one week up to one year) from Channing Daughters, a Long Island vintner. Meditazione, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Tocai Friulano, Muscat Ottonel and Pinot Grigio, is at once funky and fresh, wildly textured, redolent of pear skins, peach pits and buckwheat honey. Typically relegated to esoteric wine lists on the other side of the East River and championed by oeno-geeks, this amber glass of goodness finds a happy nest here in Bay Ridge, under an owl’s approving gaze.