Bar Bene: A Hidden Gem in Hudson | Bars | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Bar Bene: Hidden Gem in Hudson
Images courtesy of Bar Bene Hudson
Among the businesses on Hudson’s Warren Street is Sisters Hudson, a small purveyor of home goods, pretty purses, and elegant jewelry. Peek through the open etagere that forms the back wall of the shop, and you might be surprised to find Bar Bene, an elegant, Midcentury Modern-style wine bar serving up carefully curated wine and small plates worthy of any aperitivo place in Italy.

Aligning with the quirky, distinctive feel of this riverside city, Bar Bene has two unusual entrances: You need to either walk through the boutique, or head down a brick alleyway a couple doors down to reach the rear entrance of the bar.

A sandwich board outside Bar Bene recently summed up the bar in a tongue-in-cheek nutshell:

Business in the front
Party in the back.
We’re the mullet of wine bars.
“I’d always dreamed of doing something like this,” says Marie Wong, who opened Bar Bene and Sisters Hudson (run by her sister, Jenny Homer) in August 2021. “I’ve always had a love for wine bars, especially in Italy, where people visit wine bars for a glass of wine and a small plate of something to eat before dinner. I fell in love with Rome in my early 20s. I wanted the bar to have an Italian name, and Bar Bene (good bar) just seemed light and fun, the way I wanted it to be.”
click to enlarge Bar Bene: Hidden Gem in Hudson
Images courtesy of Bar Bene Hudson
The “secret” alleyway entrance leads to a spacious outdoor patio with low-slung, wrought-iron chairs and tables as well as a back entrance to Bar Bene. “The speakeasy format was not planned, but we love it,” Wong says. “That was an organic design that came about when we were working on the building. Now, people can shop and sip!”

Wong’s foray into Hudson came about by accident. “I didn’t know about Hudson at all; I lived in New York City, and I was traveling upstate and stopped for coffee, and just fell in love with it,” says Wong, who’d toiled in a supper club years ago but otherwise worked in the corporate sector. “I researched the area and it just all unfolded from there. I had my dream, and now I just knew where I wanted it to happen.”

To help bring her vision to life, Wong pulled in her friend Alison Sideris, a set decorator from Chicago who’s worked on series like HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” “I knew I wanted a Midcentury Modern look: warm, comfortable, lounge-y,” Wong says. The duo succeeded: Colorful, curvy armchairs flank a fireplace and walls that are all painted in the same moody shade of teal, picked up from Wong’s favorite Helen Frankenthaler artwork. Burnt-orange tufted bar stools invite a seat at the long bar, which is topped by leathered quartzite.
click to enlarge Bar Bene: Hidden Gem in Hudson
Images courtesy of Bar Bene Hudson
Once the decor was in place, Wong began planning the wine list. Luckily, she had a great source in bar manager/sommelier Eric Hill. “I met Eric after I bought the building—he was working at Wine Spectator in New York City, and I was a member there,” Wong says. “Then COVID hit, and he ended up in Kingston. By that time, I was looking for a bar manager and sommelier. It was kismet; I couldn’t do any of this without him.” Hill curates a thoughtful, Euro-centric wine list. “He changes most of our offerings on a regular basis,” Wong says. “He looks for smaller vineyards from Europe, Australia, and California wine country. And we’ll get only a few cases of a particular wine. We like to keep it moving.”
click to enlarge Bar Bene: Hidden Gem in Hudson
Images courtesy of Bar Bene Hudson
(L-R) Sommelier/bar manager Eric Hill, Bar Bene owner Marie Wong, and Sisters Hudson manager Jenny Homer.
Bar Bene offers 22 selections by the glass, from a French Malbec from Georges Vigoruoux ($13) to a South African Sauvignon Blanc from Ntskiki Biyela ($14); by the bottle, you’ll find 21 choices in Europeans, Australians, and Californians, including a 2018 Portuguese Alvarinho ($42) and a French Pinot Noir from Domaine Emmanuel Giboulot ($98).

Discreet symbols following some of the wines on the list denote which vintages are sustainable, biodynamic, vegan, or organic, and Hill is happy to educate visitors on the importance of such methods in viticulture.

Complementing those sips, Bar Bene serves up snacks and small bites. Cheese plates (single cheese boards, $8, or a three-cheese selection for $22) have choices like Coperthwaite from Churchtown Dairy in Hudson and an aged Alpine from Hawthorne Valley Creamery in Ghent. Charcuterie, like prosciutto di Parma, and pâté de campagne from Cheval Farmstead & Dairy in Hudson can be ordered singly ($8) or in threes ($22)—or order a full charcuterie and cheese board for $42. Small plates include lemon hummus with bread crisps ($8) and a barrel-aged feta plate with marinated artichokes, black olive tapenade, and fire-roasted red pepper ($12). If you have a sweet tooth, try the affogato ($7) with crema vanilla gelato from Sleepy Hollow’s Artigiani Del Gelato.

Like the wine list, the menu is changed up often. “We had chili for the winter season,” Wong says. “We’re going to have a caviar and champagne pairing in the springtime.”

Look for trivia nights on Mondays, hosted by Hill, and feel free to bring your best furry friend, Wong encourages. “The bar is fun, comfortable; people bring their dogs and hang out,” she says. “A lot of people in Hudson own dogs, and they are happy they can bring them to Bar Bene—especially to the outdoor space.”
click to enlarge Bar Bene: Hidden Gem in Hudson
Images courtesy of Bar Bene Hudson
The tucked-away bar is no longer a secret, and Wong couldn’t be happier. “People are more aware of us due to word of mouth,” she says. “Just last week, we had a couple in here from Brooklyn who said they’d heard about Bar Bene when they were in Brooklyn, and knew they had to try us when they visited Hudson. That’s all I could have hoped for.”

Bar Bene
538 Warren Street, Hudson
Hours: Monday and Thursday, 4pm-11pm; Friday through Sunday, noon-11pm.

About The Author

Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson loves writing about the Hudson Valley. When she’s not walking rail trails, she’s freelancing for Chronogram, Upstater, and other local publications, and entering writing contests.
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