Don Bauder 7:30 a.m., April 23
New wine bar in Talmadge
Romeo and Julieta's Wine Cafe is open for business.
I Followed a tip out to Talmadge’s sleepy neighborhoods and the unlikely corner of Monroe and 47th. There, lo and behold, sat Romeo and Julieta’s Wine Cafe, new (and only) kid on the block for wine, espresso, and Polish-inflected tapas. It is super new, mere weeks old, but I already like what I see.
The outside’s not much to look at from the vantage point of a darkened evening, but the warm interior is airy, well-lighted, and outfitted with the abundant exuberance of the excited owners. I suspect it will improve with a little patina.
It’s seems to be a labor of love, perhaps even a family affair, and the proud, eager, somewhat nervous energy that the staff display is endearing in its earnestness. I couldn’t help but notice the admiring glances the proprietors cast about, taking in the sight of customers sipping wine and noshing on the smallish plates of food. There was a certain degree of unpolished amateurity about the place, but I think that’s acceptable when that’s accompanied by a degree of raw talent.
Short on my usual appetite, I tried an order of pierogies with bacon, which could be stuffed with half-a-dozen varieties of meats and vegetables. The dough, supple and chewy but never tough, was dead on and the choices of fillings were all equally good, although I particularly liked the spinach and beef for its texture. Best of all was the mild cooling effect of the dilled cucumber salad served alongside, although it did release a lot of water by the end.
The wine list is short and not too expensive, though there is plenty of room for exploration. I managed to get a tasty glass of white Burgundy for $9.50, so I am not complaining! Beer drinkers won’t find much variety--the bar serves only two brews from Iron Fist--so anyone visiting Romeo and Julieta’s should be prepared to drink wine.
I believe that breakfast service is in the cards for R&J’s immediate future, but for now the name of the game is small plates and vino. They’re closed on Monday’s, but other nights the hours are 5-10ish, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes around as the kinks are worked out. Best to give them a call at 619-546-6919 and see.