Frederick Twomey knows how to create a mood. At each of his wine bars around the city, you walk in and feel an aura of another place: the sexy rambunctiousness of Italy at Bar Veloce, passionate vitality at the Spanish-themed Bar Carrera, and the casual sophistication mastered by the French at the most modern of his wine bars, Solex.
I visited Solex last week to check out the revamped, simplified menu which is all about the pizzette, a more delicate take on the pizza, as only the French can do. Escargot, chopped finely with garlic and parsley, takes the place of white clams; saucisson replaces pepperoni. Perhaps it’s the dough, or the fancy ingredients, but these pizzettes look and taste nothing like their Italian counterpart. I loved the flambée- essentially a classic Alsation tarte of smoky bacon, caramelized onions and crème fraiche, the meaty mushroom pizzette, and the raclette: a decadent layering of pureed potato, gruyere, rosemary and truffle oil. It was elegant but unfussy- eating with your hands would not be considered faux pas here. Most pizzettes hover in the very friendly $7-10 range.
Solex is phenomenal in that “I just got a Balenciaga bag on ebay for $100!!” way. The wines, all from France, are shockingly reasonable at $6-13 per glass, with a nice bottle selection as well. The food is great, ambience is fun (reggae was spinning the night we went). It just seems like it should be a lot more expensive than it is. But in a city where so many spots are overpriced and underwhelming, I’m certainly not complaining.
Solex: 103 1st Ave at 7th st.. Visit the Solex website here