Terzo Vino Bar proves small is satisfying

The new wine bar elevates small-plate concepts to new heights

Seafood is treated respectfully, just the way Italians would want it. After a bite of the octopus terrine by itself, one of my dining companions remarked that it tasted "like water, in a good way." The dish is only fully realized when you spear some of the slightly chewy octopus together with the creamy slices of fingerling potatoes, celery leaves, and lemony sauce. The seared cobia served in a light toast-colored broth is also best when accompanied by the pearls of fregola and smoked littleneck clams that seem to get trapped at the bottom of the bowl. Every dish is a feast for the eyes, highlighting the natural beauty of the high-quality ingredients rather than overdoing it with fussy flourishes.

In keeping with the pure and simple complementary flavors of the rest of the food, Terzo's desserts are refreshing and refined. I especially loved the thick slices of braised pineapple with its crunchy bruleed top, dabs of basil oil, and intensely fruity mango sorbet, but another find was the plate of piccolo pasticceria. I was mistaken in assuming that this was a featured dessert created by the team at Doug Flicker's restaurant Piccolo but delighted to discover it was actually a plate of house-made teeny cookies, about to scale with, say, proper dessert for your American Girl doll. There was a crunchy "brutti ma buoni" (translates to "ugly but good") amaretto and hazelnut meringue; a soft chocolate-hazelnut sandwich cookie that looked like a tiny hamburger; house-made dessert salumi of chocolate and pistachios, some chewy, nougaty creation; a rich chocolate truffle; and biscotti that was just big enough to dip in a thimbleful of espresso.

Oh, and if wine isn't your thing but you still want to take your favorite oenophile to dinner, there are a few interesting beers on tap too, like the super-summery watermelon wheat beer from 21st Amendment. It's awesome date-night dining and a must for anyone with Italy-specific wanderlust. Though just as with any small-plate restaurant, the bill at Terzo has a tendency to creep up on you as you try more things. Just think of it this way: It's still much cheaper than a plane ticket.

Don't miss our gorgeous gallery of photos from Terzo Vino Bar...

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