Vinateria is the latest restaurant to open in South Harlem's burgeoning "restaurant row" on Fredrick Douglas Boulevard between 110 and 119 Streets (they opened on April 17, 2013). Based on the crowds I've observed, the boisterous wine bar appears to be doing well.
A few weeks ago I finally got around to trying some of their desserts. My favorite, despite one nitpick, is the Ricotta and Dulce De Leche Zeppole with Chocolate Sauce ($7).
The Zeppoles are fried to order and served piping hot, four to a serving. Mine arrived perfectly cooked with an inviting dark brown exterior and glistening with hot oil. The exterior texture of each zeppole is crispy like that of a well-cooked French fry, while the interior is soft and creamy. The flavor of the ricotta cheese, mixed into the batter before frying, is very subtle; the dulce de leche drizzled on top, less so.
The decision to have the zeppoles sit in chocolate sauce is a great idea, but rather than using real melted chocolate, Vinateria appears to be using Hershey's chocolate syrup or some kind of generic Sysco chocolate syrup. Skip it.
Despite the syrup issue, this is a very satisfying, made-to-order dessert that two people could easily split. And at $7, it's also a great deal.