Log In / Join Now

Spotlight on the Cellar

Veritas puts wine center stage

Thomas Matthews
Posted: September 21, 2000

 
  The World's Best Restaurants for Wine  
 
  New Grand Award Winners  
 
  Aureole  
 
  Lespinasse  
 
  Mary Elaine's  
 
  Sooke Harbour House  
 
Spotlight on the Cellar

Veritas puts wine center stage


Some restaurants are built around a star chef or an extravagant design. At Veritas, the wine cellar is the main attraction.

As modest as a speakeasy, Veritas is a small restaurant tucked away on a side street in New York City's Gramercy Park neighborhood. A passerby could easily walk right past or even stop into the small bar without ever suspecting that below the comfortable but unassuming dining room, one of the city's greatest wine collections awaits like the treasures of Ali Baba's cave.

The cellar -- which holds 65,000 bottles and feeds a wine list with 1,425 selections--is the joint creation of owners Park Smith, Steve Verlin and Gino Diaferia, who have pooled their own extensive personal wine collections to supply the restaurant. Because they each sought to satisfy their own tastes, rather than assemble an encyclopedia, the cellar has idiosyncrasies and gaps, but it also has a distinctive personality and depth in areas that most conventional restaurant cellars don't explore.

In the Rhône Valley, for example, a vertical of Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle goes back to 1959, and cult wineries such as Henri Bonneau and Château Rayas show depth into the 1970s. Spain is strong in both new stars (the Priorats of Alvaro Palacios) and old (Vega Sicilia). But the traditional heavy hitters are also in the lineup, with deep verticals of Bordeaux first-growths (Pétrus to 1921) and California Cabernets (Caymus Special Selection to 1981). Red and white Burgundies are another specialty, with a wide range of top producers in the best vintages.

"Wine is the No. 1 priority in this restaurant," Kopec says. "Everyone orders wine. Most order multiple bottles. And they all want to talk about it." Because Veritas lets wine take the spotlight, the restaurant has become a mecca for wine buffs. It's not unusual to see magnums of great wines pass from table to table, prompting strangers to become friends. It's proof that a restaurant can be serious about wine without being snobby and that great wine goes a long way towards building an outstanding dining experience.

--Thomas Matthews

Veritas
43 E. 20th St., New York, 10003
Telephone (212) 353-3700
Wine selections 1,425
Number of bottles 65,000


For the complete article, please see the Sept. 30, 2000, issue of Wine Spectator magazine, page 76.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.