“There’s no way this place has only been open three weeks,” I think as I walk into Vintage Enoteca, the new wine bar on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
It’s 7 pm on a Tueaday night and the stream-lined space is already dotted with couples, friends and solo imbibers sipping glasses of Alvarinho and nibbling on prosciutto-wrapped medjool dates and other small plates from the Italian-inspired menu. Their faces are stretched with a visage of comfort, as though this isn’t the first time they’ve been to the neighborhood spot. This could be their fifth visit in two weeks. They might even consider the chic room with its metal tables and black & white photography from local artist Blair Morton as an extension of their homes – a place to sit back and take a moment to just be.
As I find my seat at one of the high tables along the wall and accept a glass of lavender and blueberry flavored Prosseco (available during their weekend brunch), I feel a pang of longing for Vintage Enoteca to be an extension of my home as well. Co-owners Danielle Francois and Jennifer Moore, both former advertising executives from the East Coast, have created a familial place that is effortless cool – like a low key spot tucked away in the Village rather than on a chaotic strip of Sunset Blvd. Just being there makes me feel cool by association – like I’m in on a special secret that only me and the regular local patrons know about.
On this particular night, however, I can’t claim to be cool enough to be “in on the secret.” I’ve been invited to enjoy wines and bites courtesy of the wine bar/restaurant – starting with an egg and sausage bruschetta with preserved lemon that is featured on the weekend brunch menu. The appropriateness of the offering doesn’t escape me. Like everything on the menu, it is humble in its simplicity, but also sophisticated and chic – much like the appearance of the wine bar itself. The bruschetta is familiar in flavor yet still modern – freshened up by the presentation and addition of lemon.
I am similarly smitten with the familiar flavors of the ubiquitous prosciutto-wrapped dates stuffed with grana padano ($5), and the other jazzed up bruschettas ($6) that are made with La Brea Bakery bread. While the white bean hummus bruschetta with saba and smoked paprika is a classic preparation, the goat cheese version with caramelized onions and crispy prosciutto is the one I can most picture myself ordering again on a return visit. Paired with a crisp glass of Walter Hansel Sauvignon Blanc ($10) that could give the New Zealand Sauvs a run for their money this summer, it exemplifies just how good simple food can be when made with top quality ingredients.
The paninis and flatbreads ($10) follow the same pattern – classic, yet still interesting to hold their own with the thoughtful wine list featuring producers from Italy, Franch, Spain, Austria, California, and Washington. I am particularly fond of the assertive Spanish grilled cheese with chorizo, fontina and piquillo pepper, and the cauliflower flatbread with prosciutto, béchamel and gruyere. Others at the table prefer the earthier mushroom flatbread with fontina and thyme, but I can’t resist stealing another slice of the cauliflower version as I finish a pour of the Sean Minor Pinot Noir ($13).
“I can’t believe you’ve only been open three weeks,” I say to Danielle and Jennifer after the last crumb of flatbread is gone. I’m still shocked by the smoothness of their operation – the genuineness of each detail and the cool vibe that pervades every corner.
They can’t seem to believe it either – or believe that they are actually in LA living out their dream. Fortunately for them, they don’t need to believe it. Their regular patrons are already doing the believing for them.
7554 West Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA, 90046