Six Things to Know About Claud, the East Village’s Newest Wine Bar
While there are plenty of new Euro-centric wine bars popping up throughout New York this year, this one — helmed by a pair of Momofuku Ko vets —promises to be a special one.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know before you go to Claud, opening on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
1. It’s been a few years in the making.
Owners Joshua Pinsky and Chase Sinzer first met years ago in 2014, when both worked together at Momofuku Ko, not too far from where Claud is, in the East Village. Pinsky was the chef de cuisine at the fine dining restaurant from chef David Chang, and Sinzer was the wine director. By 2018, both knew they wanted to work together on opening a restaurant of their own and in 2020, they were planning to sign a lease for a space on March 11 but, as the story goes, that wasn’t meant to be. During the pandemic, they searched for a new space, eventually settling on this spot, the former home of an outpost of Ikinari Steak on 10th Street, between 3rd and 4th avenues.
2. Family memories anchor the concept.
Memories inform much of the concept for Claud, but it’s the ones connected to their families that echo most loudly for both Pinsky and Sinzer.
The name of the restaurant, Claud, was inspired by the nickname of Sinzer’s mom, Claudia, whom he fondly describes as a “very Jersey Italian mother” who is also very elated to have the restaurant named for her.
Some of the menu items were also directly inspired by Pinsky’s mother and his grandfather, too.
3. It won’t necessarily be your typical restaurant food.
Most of all, both Sinzer and Pinsky said they drew from their absolute favorite dining experiences in making Claud a reality.
“When we talked about our best, fondest memories or experience, they were all just about being at a table — and not always just at a restaurant,” explains Pinsky. “It’s like Thanksgiving dinner, or for me, I remembered this time when I went to Italy and a local chef, just outside of Naples, cooked lunch for me and few other people. He made these dishes that no restaurant in their right mind would ever serve — but it was so perfect.”
He recalls the last course — a pot of pastry cream that was hot, not strained, and served with stale cookies, fresh fruit, and whipped cream. “There’s no chef in the world that I know of in a restaurant who would serve something that’s somewhat technically wrong [like that]. And it was one of the most amazing desserts I’d ever had. … It was the medicine we needed at that time.”
That’s not to say that the food at Claud will be perfectly imperfect, but that particular memory serves as a guiding light for how Pinsky and Sinzer will approach the overall experience of dining there. Pinsky says the biggest influences on the menu come from Italy, France, and New York.
Two dishes, in particular, worth paying attention to are the roast chicken and the chicken liver agnolotti. The roast chicken is relatively simple in its preparation, save for a tiny bit of foie gras and white wine that gets added to the drippings. The agnolotti, made with chicken liver, is an ode to a dish that Pinsky remembered as a young chef in San Francisco, while he was training at Chris Cosentino’s now-closed Incanto, back in 2014. “It’s probably the most influential pasta dish I’ve ever eaten,” Pinsky says.
4. Claud was designed to make you feel at home (sorta), but most of all, at ease.
Sinzer and Pinsky are keenly aware that there are plenty of wine bars to choose from in New York, and they hope that what makes Claud stand out from the rest is the dedication to classic, old-school hospitality, minus the traditional trappings of fine dining.
“It’s the little gestures, or gifts, it’s remembering people’s names, understanding their drink order before they get here,” says Sinzer. “If you spill something, it’s leaving a card for dry cleaning — it’s things that don’t happen all that much anymore in restaurants, but the stuff we were taught a long time ago when we started. I would like to make that part of the casual paradigm of dining out.” In keeping with the style of service both had when they worked at Momofuku Ko, chefs at Claud May also double as your runners, bringing dishes to you as they’re finished from the kitchen.
The space, designed by interior designer Ian Chapin of Edsel Co., who also worked on Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia, makes the most of the open kitchen. There’s also a backyard area, and the restaurant seats nearly 50 inside. Seats at the bar, of which there are 17, are reserved for walk-ins.
“We want you to really feel like you’re just hanging out with us and enjoying the restaurant in a very nothing-to-hide sort of way. It’s a very transparent experience hopefully for everyone,” adds Sinzer.
5. The wine list runs deep.
The wine cellar underneath the restaurant has room for about 1,000 bottles, but Sinzer will keep the highly curated list to about 200 to 250 selections, changing it periodically as the menu changes. For August, the wine list will lean into “crisp, zesty whites” and for fall braises, it’ll transition to Barolo and, finally, big, bold reds for the winter. “The core and root of the list is Burgundy,” Sinzer notes, adding that they’ll also have wines from Chile, the U.S., and from Australia, in addition to wines primarily from France and Italy..
Claud doesn’t have a full liquor license, but it will serve some wine-based aperitifs, including a cocktail that’s a blend of sherry and vermouth.
6. You can’t leave without ordering at least one dessert.
Claud is a restaurant where you simply must leave room for dessert because the chef wouldn’t have it wany other way: “I won’t let anybody leave here without at least ordering one dessert,” Pinsky warns.
Your options include a a devil’s food cake for two, ice cream, a pistachio Bundt cake, based off a recipe that Pinsky’s mom used to make, and a rice pudding, inspired by his grandfather — but hopefully improved upon. “The pistachio Bundt cake that my mom made was very tasty, but the rice pudding my grandfather made was not. So, I kind of took it upon myself to make these memories into something I wanted to actually taste like in my mind.”
Claud is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., eventually expanding to 10 p.m.
Deanna Ting is Resy’s New York Editor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.