All About Bar Vinazo, the Latest From the Duo Behind Fausto and LaLou
As the saying goes, all good things come in three. Following the success of Fausto and LaLou, partners Ilyssa Satter and Joe Campanale are once again expanding their local footprint in Brooklyn with the May 4 opening of Bar Vinazo, a new Spanish wine bar located on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, just a few blocks from their two other popular spots.
From a carefully curated wine list showcasing exciting and experimental Spanish winemakers, as well as an extensive list of sherries and creative cocktails, to high-quality conservas and original Spanish tapas, the menu is designed to transport you to Spain. And much like its sibling restaurants, it could very well become your new beloved spot for date night or a leisurely evening with friends. Curious about this newest addition to Brooklyn’s wine bar scene? Here’s everything you need to know about Bar Vinazo before you go.
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1. Spain holds a special place in the owners’ hearts.
Campanale might be best known for his association with Italian restaurants — he co-founded dell’anima, L’Artusi, and Anfora (of Epicurean Group) and he is the co-owner of Fausto and author of “Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine” — but he first developed a passion for wine while studying abroad in Madrid.
“Living in Madrid had a huge impact on me,” Campanale says. “It was the first time I visited a winery, and where I took a wine class. It opened up my eyes to so much about Spanish wines.” Although his career has been mostly focused on Italian wines, he’s always maintained a personal connection to Spain. Satter and Campanale, who are partners in business and real life, love to drink Spanish wine at home, and this inspired them to open Bar Vinazo, which they hope will be an ideal wine bar for date nights similar to their own.
2. It’s got that neighborhood feel you’ve come to know and love from Fausto and LaLou.
For Satter and Campanale, creating a sense of community is at the heart of their hospitality ventures. When a Fausto regular tipped them off about a vacant space in Park Slope (what used to be a toy store), they jumped at the opportunity to add a new spot to the neighborhood dining scene. Satter says, “We’ve lived here for 10 years; we really believe in this community and we love to create places for the neighborhood.”
After securing the space, the duo enlisted the help of their longtime collaborators: Matthew Maddy and Nico Arze of Walk & Talk Consulting for the design and buildout of the interior, and Drew Heffron at Practical People for graphic design. Given the limited space available, they decided to center the dining room around a pine-and-terracotta bar that runs the length of the room and extends into an open kitchen. In the back garden, they’ve created a two-level patio that features an impressive ivy-covered stone wall that feels like a little oasis.
3. Expect authentic, familial offerings, and lots of jamón ibérico.
To complete their vision for Bar Vinazo, Campanale and Satter brought on Barcelona-born chef Silvia Garcia-Nevado to helm the kitchen. Garcia-Nevado grew up in Brooklyn and was introduced through a mutual connection, also another Fausto regular.
At Bar Vinazo, Garcia-Nevado is cooking her own family recipes, from the pollo en pepitoria (chicken, almonds, parsley) to the canelones (spinach, pine nuts, béchamel), a dish she would make every Christmas with her grandmother, Yaya Carmen, now featured on the menu.
Divided into six sections (pica pica, tapas, quesos, carnes, platos, and conservas), the menu offers guests ample flexibility to pick and choose. The tortilla española is served as a four-inch pie, currently topped with charred ramps, while the fideuà, a seafood dish similar to paella made with pasta noodles instead of rice, is cooked with cuttlefish, shrimp, and seafood stock.
Of course, no Spanish wine bar is complete without jamón, and Bar Vinazo offers the best of the best: Cinco Jotas jamón ibérico. This free-range, acorn-fed ham is considered the best in Spain and holds a black label, the highest grade possible for Spanish jamón.
“We’ll be hand-slicing it,” says Satter. “You’ll be able to see it at almost every seat in the restaurant. We’re also going to be using the scraps to stuff the croquetas de jamón y queso. Typically, croquetas are filled with lesser-quality jamón but we’re going to be using [jamón] ibérico here.”
4. Fans of tinned fish won’t be disappointed.
Bar Vinazo features conservas sourced from Galicia, known for its cool waters and strong tradition of preserving fish in tins. Satter and Campanale conducted extensive tastings of conservas over the past few months to offer a wide range of flavors, from vinegar-marinated anchovies that taste freshly caught to meaty, smoky mussels. “We have something for everyone to learn and taste,” Satter says. For those new to the world of tinned fish, Satter recommends trying the bonito del norte (tuna belly in olive oil), while conserva enthusiasts would love the chipirones (stuffed baby squids) or sardinas en escabeche (smoky pickled sardines).
5. It’s a true celebration of Spanish drinking culture.
Spanish wines are in the spotlight, and Campanale is thrilled about the avant-garde movement happening in Spain. “It’s like the Italian wine revolution I saw when I was just starting out in the industry,” he explains. “Spanish wines are finally coming into their own, doing something truly unique to Spain, not trying to imitate the great wines of the world anymore. Young winemakers are being experimental, while established ones are making elegant and nuanced wines.”
Campanale is particularly excited about the Classic Penedès Reserva from AT Roca, a sparkling wine from Catalonia, which is the heart of Spain’s natural wine movement. He explains that the region’s best producers are leaving the appellation of cava to create their own wines, and the result is Champagne-quality wine at half the price.
“Enric Soler is another standout winemaker in the region who’s making some incredible still white wines from Xarel-lo grapes, such as his Improvisacio. They’re mineral, dry, Chablis-like, but also unique and inimitable,” he says.
For reds, look out for La Bruja de Rozas from Comando G, a 100% Garnacha made in the Gredos mountains outside of Madrid. Campanale’s wine list also boasts a broad selection of sherry, which he regards as one of the world’s most undervalued and complex wines. “In Andalucia, there’s an increasing number of producers who are making unfortified sherry using Palomino grapes, like the UBE Paganilla from Cota 45. Some of them are allowing flor, the yeast that grows on top of barrels to happen. You get something savory, nutty, yeasty — all the complexities of sherry but at a lower alcohol level. I think that’s really exciting and makes for very interesting wines that are food friendly,” he says.
Talking about great wines is how Satter came up with the name for their newest spot. It’s a term you won’t learn in books but is colloquially used in Spain. “We landed on Bar Vinazo because I realized that -azo is a suffix that adds emphasis to any word. People in Spain attach it to anything, to make it bigger, grander. We confirmed with our Spanish-speaking friends that ‘vinazo’ is what they say when they open an incredible bottle of wine,” she explains.
Bar Vinazo also emphasizes Spanish cocktail culture, with Estelle Bossy, a consulting mixologist, crafting the bar program. Their gin-tonics, Spain’s national cocktail, are available in three versions: a fresh and bright version, The Herbalist (Mahón gin, liquor de Hierbas, indian tonic, verbena lemon); a red wine-based version, The Orchard (BNC gin, red wine, tonic, mint); and a spring version using gin from Isolation Proof macerated with ramps, The Gardener (Isolation Proof Spring gin, Oloroso sherry, indian tonic, caperberry).
For their take on sangria, Campanale and Bossy created the Txakolita, featuring txakoli, an effervescent white wine from Basque Country, Blanco tequila, shishito syrup, lime juice, cilantro liqueur, and cucumber. “It’s a salty, limey, tequila-based drink that tastes like a margarita meets a sangria verde wine cooler. These flavors make sense together. I know I’m going to be drinking a lot of that on the back patio all summer,” Campanale exclaims. “Paired with lots of jamón,” Satter adds.
Bar Vinazo is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. The kitchen closes at 10:30 p.m.
Coralie Kwok is a French-born writer and hospitality professional based in Brooklyn. She’s always on the quest for the best baguette.