New York City is bursting with stylish neighborhood wine bars these days, and one more is about to jump into the fray. Veteran restaurateur Jon Neidich — the operator behind famed downtown nightlife spot Acme, as well as hip Williamsburg spots Le Crocodile and Bar Blondeau — is headed to the Lower East Side to open Le Dive, a natural wine bar and cafe with a Parisian bent in the so-called Dimes Square area of the neighborhood, at 37 Canal Street, at Ludlow Street, on May 10.
“When you’re talking about natural wine, there’s no clear definition,” says Le Dive’s beverage director Ashley Santoro. For this natural wine bar, Santoro is defining the moniker as wines sourced from organic, biodynamic farms that tout low-intervention winemaking methods. The glasses of wine start at $13 apiece, while bottles start at $42, and Santoro is adamant about taking a friendly, educational approach to customer service. “We want to have it be a neighborhood place where people don’t feel stupid [asking] what is sulfur versus sulfites,” Santoro says.
Along with the wines, the restaurant group’s executive chef Nicole Gajadhar put together a menu of snacks and small plates at Le Dive including smoked salmon with a dill cream, radishes and butter, artichokes and aioli, and tinned sardines.
Neidich has been playing with the idea for a Parisian-style natural wine bar, which is not new to NYC, since an overseas research trip for Le Crocodile, his upscale French restaurant inside the Wythe hotel in Brooklyn. He was impressed by the tabacs in Paris, or well-worn cafes where customers hang out to smoke and drink coffee and wine. It’s similar to how New Yorkers treat their favorite bar, he says, and he wanted to merge those ideas into a sunny corner spot on the Lower East Side, complete with a large neon namesake similar to tabacs he visited. “I wanted it to be almost as if somebody had inherited a tabac from older relatives, but was updating the food and beverage offerings to be something that was more in line with how the younger demographic was eating and drinking today,” Neidich says.
Le Dive will be open for dinner hours on weekdays and lunch and dinner on weekends to start, although Neidich plans to extend operating hours until 2 a.m. most nights. “New York’s nightlife is back and I think that it’s actually been back for for a while,” says Neidich, who opened the Nines, an upstairs restaurant meets supper club in the same space as nightclub Acme, to much acclaim earlier this year. “It feels very much alive and customers are very much enjoying themselves and celebrating the opportunity to eat and drink and interact with friends and strangers.”
Le Dive is open Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.