Don’t Call Her Cute: Julia’s

02/11/2015 8:48 AM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

818 Woodward Ave, Ridgewood

4 Ls

At first glance, Julia’s is a cute little wine bar albeit with some lovable oddities. It looks and feels like a French brasserie– black and white tile floors, a red and soft white light color palette, round wooden café tables, big picture windows with gold lettering, and Spanish guitar on the speakers– yet it still has the soul of a Ridgewood bar.

Everyone in here seems to be a regular, even though the place has only been open for two weeks. A guy who works in the neighborhood, but said he lives two hours away, comes in often to slump over the somewhat awkwardly high black granite bar (which sort of made us feel kids) and drink fancy beers for fair prices while picking at (and sharing) one of Julia’s charcuterie plates.

Charcuterie? Jesus– sounds fancy, right? Well, the cool thing about Julia’s is that you can be a regular lady or dude and sip on wine and pick at fine meats and cheeses for a seriously doable price. Think $6 for a small bleu cheese plate which includes a generous hunk of sheep’s milk bleu cheese, wine poached pears, and toasted walnuts smothered in honey. If you want more than a snack, order the braised beef turnovers for $8. And for booze, of course, you can score a seriously healthy pour of amazing reds, whites, ciders, and sparkling wines for between $5 and $8 and a bottle for $30 or less. All beers in tall cans and bottles— including Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, Ommegang White, Keegan Bine Climber, and more— will cost you just a fiver, and few more pricy beers are between $6 and $16.

Even better, as Crystal Williams, who co-owns the place along with Denise Plowman, explained– all of Julia’s items are either locally-sourced from the New York region or organic. New York wines? You might ask with a grimace. Well, not so fast. We gulped a Pinot Noir from Brotherhood Winery in the Hudson Valley region– which is, incidentally, the oldest winery in all of these United States– and it was delicious. Even a Gewurtztraminer from Anthony Road, another New York winery that also happens to make a New York Yankees Wine (WTF?), was amazingly drinkable. And let’s just say we’re not even the biggest fans of that German stuff.

“We want everything to be as sustainable as possible,” Williams said. “So at least we’re spending our money on what we believe in.” If this sounds pretentious, just consider that Julia’s is the opposite of ostentatious, yet nor is it “crunchy.”

When you understand this, it becomes clear that Julia’s is way more than a cute wine bar. And much like the owners’ other business, a Ridgewood bakery and breakfast spot called Norma’s, it’s a seriously thoughtful establishment. C’mon the bar is even going to host art shows– one happening this Friday will feature local women artists. It’s abundantly clear Williams and Plowman care about connecting to the neighborhood and being responsible food and drink peddlers. They’re also friendly and chatty but comfortable slinking back and doing their own thing.

We visited on a frigid Monday night, and found ourselves at home in a warm little bar, perfectly happy with the selections. If you’re anything like us, however, and have a soft spot for filthy dives, you might feel as though Julia’s is a place to be on your absolute best behavior. This is a seriously respectable establishment, after all. And according to Williams, things are only going to get better here. The wine list will see significant expansion and, by next week, Julia’s may have oysters ready and waiting to be shucked. And though Williams admitted the place will never have a full kitchen, brunch is in the works and will feature items like waffles, pancakes, and mini-frittatas. “I mean the lines are out the door for an egg sandwich at Norma’s,” she said. “Just imagine if we had booze.”