In a city full of natural wine places, Winona’s is the most versatile of them all. The multi-use space on the northern border of Bed-Stuy is part bar and part restaurant. Stroll up to the cafe counter during the day for a flat white and hide out behind your laptop for a couple of hours. Or, mosey over for dinner on a breezy evening. Either way, you’ll probably be surrounded by people sporting brand-name workwear behaving like retirees on vacation. And whatever you’re wearing, you’ll fit right in. Because even if you think you’ll stop by for just a glass of wine, Winona’s has a way of luring you in for a full dinner.
The overachieving European spot’s unique 2-in-1 model isn’t the only reason we like coming here. It’s the sense of community that initially drew us in. From large groups who cheer for every bottle that arrives at the table, to couples in matching linen pants having a romantic night out, the crowd mostly feels like people who come here often. The servers will make small talk about the G train, and the sommelier will recommend something “funky and refreshing” from the six-page wine list. On a recent visit, we ordered a bottle of Italian orange wine from Denavolo that reflected a golden yellow hue and tasted alive and fruity with a hint of tartness.
Winona’s isn’t just for wine-curious 30-somethings or creatives with fluid work schedules. It’s a restaurant for people who love good food and a rotating list of choices. Since it opened, Winona’s has regularly shared its space with guest wine experts, chefs, and food activists for pop-up dinners. We’ve been here for everything from gumbo night with Chef Kia Damon and bi-weekly dinners from the queer-run collective Ediciones, to a tasting menu experience with roaming restaurant Hera. Each residency has been memorable in its own right, but the in-house dinner menu is what will keep you coming back for more.
The simply prepared seafood dishes and light vegetarian plates at Winona’s are exactly what you’d want to be eating while watching the sunset on some faraway coastline. Burrata comes in a big bowl of tomato purée, topped with crunchy sourdough cubes, plump cannellini beans, and bright orange sungold tomatoes. And the scallop crudo gets a punch of refreshing spice from a series of diced chili peppers and fish sauce vinaigrette. We’ve tried a few of their larger entrees including the half brick chicken, but they’re not quite as notable. So stick with the small plates and share as much as possible.
On paper, Winona’s might sound like another sceney wine bar where you might spot your amateur DJ friend sipping a chilled red with your ex. But the rotating guest chef residencies and easygoing atmosphere make it stand out from other trendy drinking holes. Come here when you want to learn more about your personal wine preferences, try something new from an up-and-coming chef, or eat stuff you’d probably find in your CSA box without having to cook it for yourself.
Winona’s bottle list can be a bit overwhelming to navigate if you’re not currently studying to become a sommelier. The list is about six pages long and filled with hundreds of options from small producers based in New York, France, Mexico, Austria, Germany, Spain, and beyond. So don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation.
Tomato Soup With Burrata & Croutons
This dish tastes like a bountiful summer harvest in a bowl. And it’ll make you forget everything you thought you knew about burrata. The creamy, soft cheese mixes in with the bright red tomato purée, fresh basil, and crunchy sourdough croutons to create a refreshing chilled summer soup.
Each thick slice of raw scallop tastes light and buttery. And the chili peppers give the dish a kick of spice. Mix both together with a generous scoop of bright green fish sauce vinaigrette and you’ll develop a new level of appreciation for bivalve mollusks at large. Get at least one order of this if it’s on the menu.
We like that these crispy, cheesy fried balls feature a couple of sweet corn kernels inside. But unless you really love arancini, you don’t really need to order this.
Half Brick Chicken
The good news is that this chicken is juicy. But that’s pretty much where the good times end. The meat itself lacks flavor and the bright green romesco sauce forming the creamy bed below it is also pretty bland. You absolutely don’t need to order this entree.