lendale is one of the most desirable residential suburbs in Southwest Ohio, but most city-dwellers have few reasons to go there. We hadn’t been in years when we ventured to Glendale Square to try Piccolo Wine Room, adjacent to the shop Village Wines of Glendale (formerly Piazza Discepoli). Luckily, it was one of the last warm evenings of the fall and we scored one of the half-dozen patio tables. Manager Julia Piazza Porter welcomed and seated us, and took great care of us and the 15 or 20 of our fellow diners who spent the next couple of hours sampling wine and chef Aimee Saling’s six-item food menu. Both the setting and the bonhomie made for a splendid experience — and we enjoyed the food and drink, too.Although the wine shop has been open for 13 years and the wine room since 2005, hot meals have only been available since Saling came on board in December 2014. Ownership has recently changed hands, too, with Kate and Jeff Eberlein taking over in early November from the Piazza family. They will complete the transition with the new name — Village Wines — and a few changes to the retail side by the first of next year. But the wine room will remain as is, according to Porter, who also will stay on as manager.Conceived as a wine bar, Piccolo offers wines by the six-ounce glass ($7-$9) or two-ounce taste ($3-$4), or you can select a bottle from the shop next door and pay $10 corkage. Choices listed on a chalkboard include three sparklers, a rosé and about eight whites and a similar number of reds. If you bring non-wine drinkers with you, they can choose from a list of mostly local bottled beers.
We wanted to try as many wines as possible, so we created a couple of “flights” from the two-ounce tastes. My husband, George, went with whites — an Oregon pinot gris, a California chardonnay and a chenin blanc/viognier blend from France. The 10-Span pinot gris was his favorite and he had a little more of that with the meal.
I selected from among the reds after hearing Porter’s description of her favorites and sipping a couple of samples that she poured. My choices were a Chilean cabernet sauvignon, a malbec from Argentina and a California zinfandel, with the latter having a bit more character and bold fruitiness than the others — so the McCay Zinfandel was my best sip of the night.Porter told me that the list stays pretty constant, with marginal changes by the season and a few wines that are so popular with regular patrons that they keep them for months at a time or until the supply runs out. The featured wines were all in a mid-range quality and price level, and I’d have liked it better if they’d included one or two premium pours for the more adventurous drinkers. I’ve suggested this at other wine bars, though, and hear that there’s a problem for the house when they open something high-end for one party and then nobody else orders it, so it becomes wasted wine.Although the wine room operates Tuesday through Saturday, hot food is available only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a simple cheese plate and maybe a couple of other snacks earlier in the week. The menu rarely repeats from one week to the next but usually will include a soup and a salad, a hearty burger or meat dish and perhaps another sandwich and two or three entrées for a total of six choices.We tried four of them. George started with roasted garlic and corn bisque ($6), thickened with not too much cream and garnished with bacon — a delicious soup. I asked for a half-order of the salad, which was crunchy cashew and kale ($10 whole; $5 half). It was pretty much a perfect salad with contrasting tastes and textures provided by the main ingredients as well as goat cheese crumbles, thinly sliced red onion and toasted garlic breadcrumbs tossed with maple-Dijon vinaigrette. I hope chef Aimee makes it again when we’re out that way.
For our mains, he got the very good mushroom and asparagus crepes ($12) and I went for beef Bolognese ($13). We especially liked the crepes: two tender, warm pancakes surrounding sautéed mixed mushrooms, slices of fresh asparagus, prosciutto and melted provolone cheese. My bucatini pasta could have used a more generous amount of the tomato/ground beef sauce, but it was a satisfying dish that yielded leftovers to take home.No desserts grace the menu, but Porter told me that they will be adding a line of chocolates, and in the summer they had housemade gelatos. The overwhelming majority of Piccolo patrons drop in from surrounding neighborhoods, but the concept and execution make it worth a visit even from city folks.
Hours: 3-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 3-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.