by Kimberly Rae Miller

Hidden amid the side streets of the West Village is a tiny wine bar and café that is perfect for a light snack, good wine, and mood lighting.

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Opened in 1998, Ino Café & Bar is the definition of the old adage, “less is more.”

‘Ino’ is an Italian suffix that indicates smallness, and the Ino Café and Wine Bar lives up to the name – it’s probably about the same size as your bathroom.  The cozy ambiance is perfect for a date, and the wine list is epic.  The wines, both rosso and bianco, are Italian in origin and are broken down into geographical groupings from the north, central, south, and island regions of Italy.

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The list can be intimidating, but your server will help you pick out the perfect bottle.

In addition to the wines, the menu is short, simple –  and to die for.  It’s all about the bread – which is fresh and an ideal combination of crusty and chewy. The majority of the menu comes in sandwiches in the form of bruschetta, panini, and tramezzini, and the folks behind the counter really know how to stack a sandwich.

According to their Web site, Ino owners Jason and Jennifer Denton came up with the idea for the wine bar while in Italy where they stumbled into a wine bar and subsequently fell in love with the simplicity and style of Italian wine bar culture, sandwiches and all.

While maneuvering your way into the banquette can be a wee bit uncomfortable, once you’re seated the cozy space is well worth the contortion. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported out of the hustle and bustle of New York and into a little hole-in-the-wall wine bar in Italy: Simple food and good wine.

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Ino Cafe & Wine Bar
21 Bedford Street, between Downing St & Houston St,
New York, NY 10014
(212) 989-5769