Just when you fall in love with that scrumptious bite or sip of heaven you can't live without at Vino Nadoz Bistro & Wine Bar, some other decadent thing comes along to steal your heart.
The Richmond Heights hotspot is full of surprises, from delicate small plates and hearty entrees to exotic and luxurious wines that are amazingly easy on the wallet. The brainchild of Steven and Kathy Becker of Steven Becker Fine Dining, Vino Nadoz offers an eclectic lineup of domestic and foreign wines, as well as local, seasonal beers, cocktails and other adult beverages to complement local foods that come almost completely from within a couple hours' drive of the bistro.
“We're very focused on what we can get locally,” says chef Chris DiMercurio. “That can be hard to do in the winter months, but in spring and summer, 85 percent, at least, of our ingredients are local. To prepare something that's from here – exclusively here – it's worth it. You can taste it, definitely.”
DiMercurio uses traditional and molecular gastronomy techniques to coax the best flavors and textures from fresh, locally sourced foods. He admits to being enamored with the convenience of his immersion circulator, which allows him to use the sous vide method to slow-cook items like pork belly and even steaks and scallops while he prepares other foods.
“It's a lot more versatile than people think,” DiMercurio says. “Once you know the little ins and outs, it's an amazing tool, and in a small kitchen it's a huge time- and space-saver. It's enhanced what we do. I mean, I don't even like salmon, but if you sous vide first (followed by a quick sear), it yields something tender and soft. The Jail Island Salmon is like velvet.”
Keeping a local focus means DiMercurio’s menu reflects the best of what's available within 75 or 100 miles of Vino Nadoz at any given time. He makes changes to the menu about twice during a season as ingredients are harvested, then usually overhauls at the beginning of the next season. It may be Carolina Gold and Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes taking the spotlight in a seasonal salad one month, and a winter vegetable bruschetta the next.
The same theory goes with Vino Nadoz's wine program. DiMercurio and food and beverage director John McGuire meet regularly to discuss the ingredients on hand and determine how best to choose wines that play well with the current menu. The two meet with up to five or six wine purveyors daily – each with a unique perspective and selection of products – and rarely buy more than a case or two from each.
“We're constantly rotating,” he says. “We may buy six bottles here, 10 bottles there. It keeps our wine program very diverse. People can always come in and try things they've never had before. If it doesn't work out, we can sell it or use it for something else.”
“Most restaurants have a somewhat static wine list because it's too difficult to do that when they're serving such a large customer base. Being small lets Vino Nadoz try a more diverse selections in smaller quantities.”
Vino Nadoz wines are also available for retail purchase, most for less than $20 per bottle.
The restaurant hosts wine dinners at 6pm on the first Tuesday of each month, during which wines from different regions or purveyors are featured and paired with local, seasonal dishes.