The most serendipitous discoveries are often hidden in plain sight.
Last weekend, as we fled the neon, fist-pumping mayhem that was South Beach and Downtown, Top Chef alum Bret Pelaggi's Uvaggio reminded us that the best dining experiences come from the most unexpected places. Located smack in the middle of Miracle Mile, the wine bar and restaurant is so unassuming that if you blink you'll miss it.
Billie Holiday's voice carried through the space as the small, personable staff stood eagerly by to share their extensive knowledge of the 100-plus wines you wouldn't suspect they carried.
Sommelier Heath Porter and Chef Bret Pelaggi
The list itself is as unpretentious as sommelier Heath Porter and wittily divided into approachable categories like "Plus sized wines, full bodied", and "Awww, you brought flowers," from which we sampled the fragrant and buttery bouquet of a 2009 Ribolla from Slovenian vineyard Marjan Simčič ($6 for 3 oz.; $12 for 6 oz.; $48 for a bottle).
After making the acquaintance of a J.L. Chave Mon Cœur 2010 Côtes du Rhône ($12 for 6 oz.), our curiosity was piqued by the 13-dish menu designed to highlight the qualities of the wines--a concept they refer to as "tasting backwards."
The sous vide Rabbit's earthy flavors pair well with fragrant white wines
The dishes do more than "highlight"--they elevate the wine. Cases in point: Veal sweetbreads with gnocchi, beech mushrooms and gremolata ($16) enhance the J.L. Chave Mon Cœur's peppery tones; the Barboursville 2012 Reserve Viognier's ($14 for 6 oz.) apricot notes accentuate the earthy sous vide rabbit with fava beans, spring pea puree and sunchoke gratin ($17).
At Uvaggio, there are no gimmicks, no frills, no crowds, no wine snobbery--nothing that took away from the great wine and delicious food, or satisfaction of discovering a real gem.