January 18, 2011
First impressions of Enotria's wine bar

By Chris Macias

It's the Sunday night of a three-day weekend, so hey, why not check out the new wine bar at Enotria? You may have read recently how $1.5 million was sunk into Enotria's expansion, giving birth to a remodeled restaurant (which is set to open in February) and a new wine bar near the corner of Del Paso Blvd. and Arden Way which debuted Jan. 11.

There's definitely a "new wine bar" kind of smell when you walk in, with some paint still detectable to the nose. The room itself looks pretty sleek with its racks of wine bottles on the walls and shiny new bar. Business looked good on this night, with most tables being taken up in the early evening.

One thing that's also expanded at Enotria is its cocktail program. There's about a dozen drinks to be had on its cocktail menu, including a pink and "Sex and the City"-ish "Winter in Del Paso" (pomegranate, ginger beer, Canton liquer, vodka). The "Enotria Cadillac" (Galliano, creme de cacao, cream and simple syrup) came in a pint glass and looked just like a vanilla milkshake. The portion was certainly generous but seemed to be an overly filling way to start a night of eating and drinking.

The wine program features plenty of options, from a rich Cote de l'Ange from the Ch√ɬĘteauneuf du Pape to French bubbly (Piper-Heidsieck Brut) and domestic options from St. Supery, Paul Hobbs and James Blake of Amador. All wines are available as a 2 ounce taste, full glass or by the bottle.

Executive chef Anthony Brenes has crated a wide ranging bar menu with Latin overtones. Along with an earthy take on mac 'n' cheese with crab and mushroom, and the now requisite pulled pork sliders, you'll find grilled Argentine sausauge with chimichurri sauce and sopes de carnitas. Though the sausage was a tad dried out, the overall flavors we found were vibrant and invited sips of wine. The small plate prices are reasonable too, ranging from $6.50 to $12.50. But prepare to pay between $22 and $32 for entrees.

Enotria's wine bar shows plenty of potential and it'll be interesting to see how much customer traffic is gained. But for now, the wine bar itself needs a much more lively vibe. Maybe it was because of the Sunday night dreariness and cold, but apart from the hostess the staff seemed kind of sullen throughout service. This place needs more smiles and pep to make it feel like a real hot spot of food and wine in Sacramento.

We'll see how this all shapes up with more time.

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