Chef and owner Andrea Bozzolo, originally from Italy, saved me and my husband seats for date night and it was wine-derful. The vibrant space accommodating 20 people isn’t your standard wine shop. Wine down, snack on yummy and expertly paired cheeses (and more foodie findings!) and you’ll see that great minds sip alike. This vino oasis deserves a reservation for a cheesy and romantic date night.
Un-Brie-lievable: Malmosto meats my match with their mixed imported cured meats plate ($40), served with my new glutenous weakness, gnocco fritto, which are fried pillows of perfect bread. This platter features one-of-a-kind meats including Culatello di zibello ham, lonzino, bresaola and five others. Add a cheese plate (five cheeses, $25) and you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to Italy with mouthfuls of rare pecorinos from Sardegna alongside delicious other bites. Be sure to ask about the appetizer with black garlic truffle butter and Genova salami. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this one.
Time to Wine Down: You feel the passion from Bozzolo in the extensive wine list full of curated vinos from around the world. Bottle prices range from $38 for a 2020 Chardonnay Pearlston from South Africa to $750 for a 1990 Amarone Bertani. Bozzolo recommended the Vionier from Piedmont ($48/bottle), which won a gold medal at the Italian wine show in Verona. It was the perfect pairing for my palette.
I am exploding with excitement to share this gem I found while exploring the foodie findings in our community. The Bamboo Island Bar is full of good vibes and makes you forget that you didn’t fly to this dining destination; you were at home just a mere minutes ago (depending on traffic).
Un-Brie-lievable: The Monaco ($33) features a daily selection of cheeses and cured meats with fresh fruit nestled between nuts and crackers, pickles placed perfectly alongside sweet honey and house-made sauces that tie the tasty board together. But that isn’t the only board to browse. The Paris ($21) is home to a baked brie cheese with fruits, nuts, crackers, jam and looks like it should be in the Louvre next to Mona Lisa herself.
Time to Wine Down: While the wine list might not be the most expansive on our list, the gourmet food and lounge bar makes up for it with atmosphere and chic cheese dishes. Choose from 11 whites, six reds, prosecco and champagne or skip the wine altogether and order yourself a tropical beverage. We’re foodies, we make our own rules.
According to Chateau 13 Restaurant and Wine Bar General Manager Jenn Sayko, "The best wine education is a row of empty bottles." It's hard to argue with that. The brainchild of a champagne-filled night at Palmetto Riverside Bed & Breakfast, Chateau 13 transports you to a stellar cellar located, of all places, in Bradenton.
Un-Brie-lievable: You feta believe I’m ordering the to-go charcuterie signature box ($55). Bring it to a dinner party, take it to a beach picnic or transport it to your car to devour immediately. This box features chef’s selections and accoutrements, like house-made fig jam and cranberry pumpkin crackers to start, and serves up to four. These beautiful boxes can be ordered online – and wine, champagne or both can be added to your order.
Time to Wine Down: If you stay in-house for your cheese and charcuterie boards ($18-$46) you will have no shortage of wines to savor. Choose from over 30 selections by the glass ($8-$18) and over 150 bottle selections ($32-$350) focusing on French, Italian, Spanish and American wines. If you can’t decide, ask Jenn and she will be your partner in wine. She suggests Champagne Collet Brut, Gueissard Rosé or Guidobono Nebbiolo.
Tucked away at the end of Main Street in Lakewood Ranch, Fine Wine & Tastings offers “pour decision” makers like you and me a rotating monthly menu of 35 wines by the glass plus seasonal charcuterie and small plates. The family-owned and operated business hand selects every bottle that is consumed in house — which amounts to over 300 wine selections from around the world.
Un-Brie-lievable: You won’t be board with your small plate options here. From a cheese board with three assorted cheeses and seasonal accoutrements to a full charcuterie board with meats, nuts and picks, to the combination board, all wine-ers will be paired with tasty treats. Gluten-free crackers are available upon request.
Time to Wine Down: Happy hour is the time to wine! From 5-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, sip on $2 off all regularly priced 5 oz. wines by the glass. Be sure to check their Instagram page for upcoming events, wine tastings and special offers: I took full advantage of the 20% off Muga Rosado in March. Like they say, stop and smell the rosé.
Local live music, a long list of wonderful wines and cheese that has you thinking, “Nothing can get cheddar than this?” — nights in the Rosemary District just got oh so bottleful to me. Thanks to Theresa LaSalle, who opened the modern-meets-new world wine bar in 2021, you bet Shiraz this bistro made my list.
Un-Brie-lievable: Build your own charcuterie board for $24 ($8 per item, 3 item minimum). Choose cheeses such as the gorgeous goat cheese, pleasing pecorino with truffles, enjoyable edam and more, plus meats like soppressata and the magnificent meat that always makes its way to my boards, prosciutto. I like to add the baked feta from the tapas section.
Time to Wine Down: The bistro’s mission is “uniting the world through wine,” and I agree because wine is always the answer. The reasonably priced wine list is nothing to miss — but the daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m. makes me beyond bubbly. The menu includes house sparkling, cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay ($6) with light offerings like charcuterie bites ($6) featuring a wedge of brie and prosciutto on a crostini topped with an olive.
Emma B. Jolly has worked at Observer Media Group for five years as the digital fulfillment specialist with previous experience at Sarasota Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and even "The Jerry Springer Show" (yes, that's right). In her spare time, she enjoys doing anything near or on the water, being a cat mama and, of course, being a foodie with her new hubby.