Recently, my wife and I moved to Tarzana and have been scouring the neighborhood looking for delicious restaurants that don’t break the bank. We visited several that were quite the fail and then we found our current favorite. I present to you: Vino Wine & Tapas Room. Located on Ventura in Encino, this small, comfortable eatery whips up delicious fare.
We have been to Vino several times now and they have many different dishes and wines. Although their wine list has a nice array from different regions around the world, we usually pay corkage. We took my grandparents recently and had a wonderful time at a semi-private table near the back. I brought one of my favorite rosé Champagnes, Billiot, and it paired wonderfully with many of the tapas. Billiot is a grower champagne with grapes from Ambonnay. All Grand Cru juice, the value is outstanding. Pairing with the Billiot, we had Manchego, a thick slice of the cheese on a croqueta smothered with a sweet tomato vinaigrette. We also had Albondigas, a sirloin meatball on top of savory mashed taters. I love how rosé Champagne (or any rosé for that matter) pairs with so many different foods and can even cross over and pair with meats. The Billiot rosé is beautiful and offers a nose of dough, cinnamon, orange zest, and berries like raspberry and cherry. Full creamy bubbles and delicious lip-smacking acidity constitute the palate.
My favorite “big” small bite is the New Zealand Lamb Chop. I love pairing lamb with Syrah, and one of my favorite Syrahs is JL Chave Crozes-Hermitage from the Northern Rhone valley. It pairs magically with lamb. Soft tannins with tart raspberry flavors, all meshed together with fresh cracked black pepper, this is a classic French Syrah. Syrah is fast becoming one of my favorite varietals. It’s very versatile with food and I simply relish the peppery flavors. The chops are prepared with, what do ya know, pepper and herbs encrusted with a wine reduction sauce on top.
The ambience is terrific and on most weekends, they have live saxophone crooning at the front of the restaurant. The chairs are very comfortable and the service is super friendly. I like to describe the lighting as happy and dark. All wine is served in Riedel stemware (specifically, Vinum Extreme). For a less personal experience, there is always at least a small crowd at the bar where energetic conversations abound. I highly recommend checking Vino out, but make sure you come by and pick up a couple bottles from me, custom matched for your food.