I remember a college professor lecturing about the idea of the "third place" - someplace that is neither home nor workplace - and he used the Third Place idea to explain the success of the series Cheers. Everybody needs a place where...everybody knows their name.
I have a few contenders for my Third Place, but I don't have a neighborhood bar or regular after-work spot...which is okay, because I'm not interested in procuring my very own bar stool, but there is something to be said for having a familiar, consistent spot to grab a drink after work, and while it may not be exactly Third Place material, I am growing quite fond of Bar Veloce.
My office is in the far west 30's, where there are scant offerings in the way of either food or drink. If you need to catch the LIRR, it's convenient, but if you want a nice lunch or a happy hour, you are likely left disappointed. It's not a far walk to Chelsea, however, and on several occasions now I've ended up at Bar Veloce, on 7th Avenue, and had lovely, lovely glasses of wines with good, not-too-filling nibbly things. The wine list is Italian (almost exclusively) and glasses range from $8-$14, with both white and red getting fair representation (Italian whites are my new project; I recently have become a fan of Falanghina - a grape I don't know much about - and whites from Lugana...the other night I was drinking a Lugana that was sort of apple-y and toasty but still nice and crisp and I honestly don't even know what grapes are grown in Lugana, other than what Google tells me, which is Trebbiano).
There are the familiar cheese and cured meat plates, and what looks like the familiar bruschetta/tremezzini/panini menu, but what I like about the menu at Bar Veloce is that the bready items come on what is really closer to flatbread than Italian or French bread. On a recent night a friend and I had cured tuna bruschetta topped with pickled red onion and delicious fig, prosciutto and pine nut bruschetta that was the PERFECT blend of salty and sweet, with just a hint of nutty.
The space is sleek and fills up quickly, however it manages to feel full without ever seeming crowded. There is just one sommelier/bartender behind the long bar with a small wait-staff serving and taking orders from the bar tables scattered against the far wall of the long, narrow space but the service never seems to slow down. Bar Veloce originally opened in 2000 in the East Village, and I've yet to visit that location, but the Chelsea spot (there is also a Soho branch) makes me very happy and while bartenders may not yet know my name, it's possible that in the near future, they might.
Bar Veloce has three locations and accepts all major credit cards.