As we told you about a few weeks ago, Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar is having a Facebook promotion – become a friend of the restaurant on Facebook and you can get a glass of wine or sangria for free. Free booze and food will always draw me in, so I friended them, as did my coworker/friend/dance partner Alicia, and we eventually made our way over to try their lunch special.
I’ve walked by this spot several times and always appreciated the ample outdoor seating, so I assumed the inside was a little roomy as well. I was wrong. The inside is about half the size of the outside dining area and due to the size limitations, it is designed for couples (or in my case, an intimate lunch with Alicia), not groups. None the less, it was very cute, and I’m sure quite romantic if you’re with that special someone.
On to the food. Ayza offers a prix fixe lunch menu – $10 gets you a choice of a starter (a soup or appetizer) and mini-panini. Looking at the full menu we determined this was the best deal, so I ordered the fava bean spread as my starter and Alicia got the hot artichoke salad (like spinach-artichoke dip, but without the spinach). Both were excellent. For my main meal, I ordered the portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper and smoked mozzarella cheese panini and Alicia had the proscuitto panini with mozzarella, aged parm and basil. I was very pleased with mine and Alicia seemed to enjoy hers as well.
Truly, everything was delicious, but their portions are as tiny as the restaurant. Luckily each dish came with a small green salad (quite tasty) and they started us off with an olive spread, olives and bread. This helped, as did the free wine (you can choose among three kinds of wine or sangria), but it wasn’t a lot of food for the money. On the other hand, it was pretty good, so I guess it’s a fair deal.
One thing to note, you cannot make any changes to the paninis. For instance, I wanted the pulled pork panini but without the cheddar cheese. I thought that was an easy request…just don’t put the cheese down on the sandwich before you press it, but the waitress very quickly said “No, we can’t do that.” Oh well.
Anyway, you might as well hit it up and get your free glass of wine/sangria while the deal lasts. Oh and by the way, they don’t require any paper/coupon (which is good since you really don’t get anything after you sign-up), but they do ask for your first and last name and I guess they enter it into a system. I have a hunch that they keep track of it all so we can’t try to score a second free glass of wine at a later date.The Basics Name: Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar Location: 11 w. 31st Street Who to bring: a Date, a Friend Price: On the pricier side, but take advantage of the prix fixe and free wine deals. $$-$$$ Overall: Cute, good food, but maybe not the best value. 3 stars.