Approach The Bar
Porsena Extra Wine Bar
She opened the East Village’s wildly successful Italian roast porkery Porchetta in 2008, followed by the pasta equivalent Porsena in 2010, and, becoming the foodie version of a triple threat, chef Sara Jenkins’ September 2012 move was to counter the lack of fast lunchtime options in the area by opening Porsena Extra Wine Bar next door. Her success is no surprise when you consider her childhood was spent predominantly in Rome and Tuscany – what Jenkins doesn’t know about rustic Italian food and how the Italians like to eat wouldn’t stuff an olive.
In a nod to her previous ‘simple is best’ success, Porsena Extra is a barely there sliver of a brick-walled, countertop lunchkin-cum-evening wine bar with a modest, but well-curated list of 27 wines (Italy, Spain, France and Lebanon, 10 by the glass) and a small plates/antipasti menu that tastes as good as it reads. At lunch, crunch through the stecca (baguettes) stacked with Surryano ham on a bed of sweet cantaloupe butter and cornichons, or try the salami with spiced fig jam. In the evening step out of your comfort zone with the lamb tartare with fresh parsley, preserved lemon and flat bread, or an escabeche of pickled mussels with croutons, and house-made crunchy pickled giardiniera. With so few seats, you’ll need to book extra early for Extra.