You've just paid $50 for a pair of $250 shoes at Nordstrom Rack. And snagged a $25 necklace that looks like a million bucks at Bloomingdale's outlet. How convenient that the ideal place to celebrate is right at hand in the same shopping center.
At the new Spuntino Wine Bar and Italian Tapas (the offshoot of a New Jersey "concept" restaurant), there's no need to commit to a big meal. Instead, sit down to a small plate or two. Maybe more. Choose to share or refuse to share. There are plenty of interesting wines by the bottle and glass -- even a few on tap.
Indoors, the quasi-industrial look is defined by metal, subway tile, wood and brick. Outside, you can sit at a table, although the view is a parking lot.
As you sip your wine, perhaps you'll want to nibble on some cured meats and cheeses. Or try some of the compelling bruschettas. One -- topped with seared tuna, chili peppers, olives and lemon zest on a slice of baguette -- is a real eye-opener. Another refreshing combination features watermelon, ricotta, fennel and fresh mint. So right for summer.
From the roster of small individual pizzas, the Margherita pie presents a somewhat watery tomato sauce and too-soft crust. Opt, instead, for the Funghi, a lush, garlicky white pizza with cremini and Portobello mushrooms, fontina and truffle oil. Or try a bowl of pasta, ample enough to qualify as a full meal. Spuntino makes a classic spaghetti carbonara with bacon, peas, egg and a little Pecorino Romano. It's as rich as it is satisfying. Hearty yet meltingly light are ricotta gnocchi with a homey braised wild boar ragout.
But the attractively plated charred octopus over faro comes up a bit short on octopus. And meatballs stuffed with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto are curiously dense. Go, instead, for the tender, delectable grilled marinated lamb chops.
Better by far than the somewhat oily-tasting ciambelle -- house-made sugar-dusted Italian doughnuts served with dipping sauces -- is a warm apple crostata with salted caramel and vanilla gelato.
You can share this finale -- but you might not want to.