Wine comes first — for inspiring menus and educating palates — at Kristin and John Jonna’s intimate and very cool Vinotecca Wine Bar & Restaurant.
Open since late January across from Birmingham 8 Movie Theater, Vinotecca is a delicious addition to the Oakland County dining scene. The on-premises Elm Room provides banquet and event space for up to 300 guests.
Kristin Jonna worked since childhood at her father John and Uncle Ed Jonna’s former business, The Merchant of Vino, purveyors of gourmet food and wine. After graduating from Michigan State University, she spent a year at Benziger Winery in California’s Sonoma Valley. She tasted wines and learned about the wine-making process throughout the state before returning to help run John’s Merchants Fine Wine.
She lives with her husband, Dave Eifrid, and children, Maya and Luke. The little ones inspired the name of the restaurant Kristin and John previously co-owned at this location. The Bird & the Bread had a “European comfort food-inspired concept,” including visible pizza ovens.
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Ron & Roman, architecture/design firm, worked with Eifrid, a professional “green” builder, as contractor for the original restaurant. Reused, repurposed and reclaimed items and materials were adopted wherever possible. Deconstructed red pine wood, salvaged from an 1880s house, surround Vinotecca’s “wine barrel” separate dining room.
More decor features are stainless cocktail squares anchored to black pipeline stands and drop lights fashioned from John’s vintage wine bottle collection. Hanging above the dominant bar are different mugs hand-blown at Glass Academy in Dearborn.
Vinotecca continues a family tradition of offering excellence in wine, food and hospitality — all found at a former Vinotecca restaurant, wine bar and retail store the Jonnas had since 2005 in Royal Oak. Their Vinology Wine Bar and Restaurant, open 12 years, remains in downtown Ann Arbor.
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Father and daughter delight in suggesting wine pairings with food. Pairings are also recommended on digital ordering pads. To enhance Red Shrimp, an irresistible shell-on appetizer prepared with garlic, chorizo and ancho chile, John gave me “off-dry” Riesling and drier Albarino of Spain white wines.
Vinotecca presents wine-tastings and “Wanderlust” events monthly that “explore the culture of a region through a classic food and wine pairing.”
Kristin samples wines and a complementary menu flows from there, under the direction of Executive Head Chef Adam Galloway. Portuguese wines are highlighted during March. April will focus on one grape, Pinot Noir, from everywhere. A benefit for Juvenile Diabetes is scheduled April 13.
Eating my way through the Vinotecca menu — comprised of globally influenced small plates, “shareables,” salads and entrees — I give highest marks to Dirty Pleasure Burger, with 30-day aged prime meat; Beets & House-Made Ricotta Salad; and a customer favorite, Curried Scallops and Pork Belly. Cowboy Steak, bone-in ribeye for two, also is popular.
Open 4 p.m. daily except Monday, with 10 a.m. weekend brunch, Vinotecca offers blues and jazz music Thursday-Saturday.
210 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham
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