April 16, 2014

Nov 8, 201209:22 AMTable Talk

Sneak Peek: Vino Volo

Nov 8, 2012 - 09:22 AM
Sneak Peek: Vino Volo

Photo by Emma Patti

What a relief—no boarding passes or x-ray scanning required prior to visiting the newest Vino Volo, the wine bar that’s opening its first non-airport shop at Bethesda Row on Friday, November 16. (After sampling the food and wine, you may, however, need to unbuckle your belt, but that’ll be strictly voluntary.)

The first Vino Volo opened in 2005 at Dulles International Airport, and since then, the California-based company has grown to 18 boutique wine bars in airports around the country, including a second location at Dulles. The places not only offer wines by the glass and wine flights (tastes of three wines), but sophisticated nibbles and upscale atmosphere. They sell bottles of wine as well.    

Tristan Kindy, the general manager of the new Bethesda location, says the company was getting lots of requests from customers who wanted to see the wine bars in non-airport settings. Given the familiarity of the company in this area, plus the proliferation of wine drinkers, a Bethesda locale seemed like a good first stab. Another urban wine bar is planned for Tysons Corner in 2013.

With woodsy colors and materials, the interior of the new 2,500-square-foot space—which seats 96—was designed to look rustic. “We wanted it to feel like you’re stepping into wine country,” said Kindy.

As such, one wall is covered with a huge three-dimensional sculpture made from the fronts of wine crates. A television screen in the middle of the creation will show pictures and videos of wineries—no sporting events, Kindy said.

A chandelier made from wine barrel rings hangs over a VIP table in a dining alcove, and with tables and soft lighting, the wine shop area can turn into a private dining space that resembles a wine cellar.

Like the other Vino Volo wine bars, the focus is on harder-to-find wines, made by small, family-run wineries. The shop will sell about 180 bottles from around the world, as well as closer-to-home selections from Maryland, Virginia and New York. Sit-down guests can choose from 30 wines by the glass, and five wines on tap (yes, served from a keg).

As for the food, the airport menu has been expanded to include small, thin-crusted pizzas, and a few more involved dishes such as bacon brittle, roasted bone marrow (served with local Virginia chutney and Himalayan salt), pan-seared thyme chicken, grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce, a mixed vegetable sandwich with goat cheese, and a couple more salads.

Consulting chef David Shalleck was brought on board to organize the kitchen and tweak the dishes, which will be made from scratch in Bethesda (the food served at the airport locations is cooked at outside locales, and assembled on site). Shalleck is owner of Volochef, a San Francisco-based culinary production company that does food styling, recipe development, TV shows (including working with local celebrity chef Jose Andres on the PBS series “Made in Spain”) and more.  

Vino Volo’s marketing specialist Sarah Evans said that Vino Volo eschews snobbery over wine, striving to be a place for people who just love the drink. “Our approach is to be very approachable,” she said.

7243-7247 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, 301-656-0916, vinovolo.com

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About This Blog

Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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