Coral Gables has been sorely lacking in the wine department for quite some time. Any true oenophile can tell you that there really isn't a place where you can sit, relax, and enjoy great wine from unique, boutique wineries. On Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 that all changed when Uvaggio opened its doors.
The cozy, bright wine bar, located at 70 Miracle Mile, focuses on small production wines paired with an impressive food menu. The decor is simple yet cheerful with high-top tables and a small bar with comfy, padded, leather stools. Blink and you might miss the unassuming storefront sandwiched between a couple of retail stores. Owner Craig DeWald, a former Human Resources executive, is aiming to create a casual, unpretentious environment for his customers with an emphasis on great customer service. "We're serious about the wine, serious about the food, but we are trying to create a relaxed environment where people can come hang out, sit, talk, and have an awesome bottle of wine and super great food."
The wine list is extensive with by-the-glass options ranging from $9-$19 with most in the $12-$15 range and bottles starting at $29. Each wine is accompanied with a lighthearted, quirky description that helps the customer get a better feel of what they are ordering. Wines are divided into sections with titles like "light and sassy" and "you zesty thing!" which contribute to the playful atmosphere. Don't be fooled by the offbeat titles and descriptions though, the wine list is made up of some impressive wineries from all over the world and really abides by DeWald's desire to feature smaller production wineries. "What we are really looking for when we choose our wines are wine makers that really capture the place they're at or the grape they're using." DeWald has employed advanced level sommelier Heath Porter (aka Head Wine-O), who has developed world-class wine and beverage programs at renowned five-star resorts such as the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia and the Diamond Head Grill at the W Hotel in Hawaii, to develop Uvaggio's varied wine list. You’ll see Porter bustling about talking to customers, finding out what they like, and sometimes even letting customers try a taste of a wine that he is enjoying at the moment.
The food menu is ambitious with dishes such as Braised Beef Short Rib with a black licorice tea consommé, black olive soil, and Meadow Creek cheese pomme puree and Sous Vide Rabbit with sunchoke gratin, spring peas, fava beans, and black truffle oil, and it does not disappoint. The dishes are meant to be shared and but there are also several that can double as an entrée if you're hungry or just feel like being greedy.
Other standout dishes include the Pork Rillete Terrine with pickled vegetables and toasted baguette and the Octopus “Naranja Agria” with aji Amarillo, papa bravas, and jicama. Divine! Top Chef alumnus Bret Pelaggi helms the kitchen and has created the eclectic menu around the aromas and flavors of the wine. "We did a lot of tastings of the wines and sort of built backwards from that. We tasted a bunch of wine and took notes about what textures, what aromas, and what spices we tasted and as we wrote, you can almost see a dish start to form." Many of the descriptions of the wines by-the-glass include a food pairing which takes the guesswork away for customers! Pelaggi’s creations are something that you would expect out of a high-end restaurant without the price tag or pretentiousness.
Uvaggio has also begun weekly wine tastings which are held on Saturdays from 4-5pm. Guests can taste 6 wines that revolve around a varietal or region for $30. These wine tastings are a casual, fun, and slightly educational way to learn about wine. Also to not be missed is their nightly aperitivo, or happy hour, from 5-7pm which allows guests to score a bottle of wine and a charcuterie and cheese plate for only $30.
For those that prefer cocktails and beer, Uvaggio offers several low-alcohol cocktails and six beers on tap including Wynwood Brewing Company's Pops Porter.
Uvaggio is a wonderful addition to the Coral Gables dining scene and is already becoming a favorite among the locals. Cheers!
70 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
( Photography by Ginger Monteleone )