Take a warm, welcoming owner with a built-in following from her years in a neighboring town. Stir (or shake) with a cool interior, set against jazz music in the background. That’s the recipe for Anna Maria’s Wine Bar, a newcomer to Rye’s bustling restaurant scene.
Owner Anna Maria Santorelli was ready to take some time off after closing her eponymous Larchmont restaurant, Anna Maria’s, in August after 13 years of business. “I wasn’t looking to open a new place; I was planning on going on vacation for a while,” she recalls.
A chance meeting with an area realtor led to a different path. “This spot gives me the opportunity to do a number of things a bit differently,” Santorelli says, adding that the wine-bar concept appealed to her because of the growing popularity of small-plates dining. “I’m giving [customers] the chance to have something delicious and quick while they sip a cocktail or glass of wine.”
Speaking of wine, the curated list offers approximately 10 whites and 10 reds, plus a couple of rosés and sparkling wines. “I chose an international wine list, offering a variety of styles, which pair well with food, but also drink well on their own,” says Santorelli. (There’s a short list of signature cocktails, too.)
The menu is ideal for sharing. We tried the pop-into-your-mouth-sized crab cake balls, served with a delicious siracha aioli, and a tre colori salad with a tart lemon vinaigrette and shaved Parmigiano cheese. There’s a great selection of meats and cheeses, and dishes that speak to Santorelli’s restaurant background, such as a creamy burrata wrapped with prosciutto and the cannolo Siciliano, filled with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips.
You’ll want to sit and linger over your food and drink, as the atmosphere at Anna Maria’s Wine Bar invites conversations. Black and gray accents complement the wood-framed walls, and there’s a nook in the back with a couple of high-tops. Other seating options include the centerpiece bar, with its great retro lighting and white tile backdrop; banquette seating; or space along the window counter looking out on Purchase Street.
Happy Hour features some special appetizers, and look for events, such as wine tastings and live music. “I look at this place like I’m inviting people into my home,” Santorelli says.