Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bella Vino (Spring Branch, Texas)

SPRING BRANCH, TEXAS -- It was not purely by coincidence that my wife Diane and I stumbled across Bella Vino Wine Bar & Coffee and, as is the case with half the new places we have tried in the past year, we have Groupon to thank for making us aware of it. It just opened in January and is located inside the affiliated Bella Napoli Italian restaurant, which was happily celebrating its first anniversary the day we visited the bar.

Bella Vino's offerings include a great selection not just of wine and coffee but also of local and microbrew beers. It menu includes a nice selection of light fare, including appetizers/tapas, meat and cheese plates, sandwiches, and deserts. My wife and I opted to share a delicious cold artichoke and spinach dip, followed by a two-person antipasto platter dubbed "The Kitchen Sink" that included about 20 different kinds of meat and cheese (including prosciuto and mortadella), along with spiked olives and a few pepperocini, grapes, and strawberries. We washed it all down with a bottle of Francis Ford Copolla "Votre Sante" pinot noir, a full-flavored, light-bodied wine that was the perfect accompaniment to our meal.

What makes Bella Vino most appealing to me, however, is its "rustic chic" ambience, something that puts it in a league with just a handful of other places around Canyon Lake (e.g., the Silver Sage Grille). Part of its elegance comes from its wine-oriented decor and prints, each of which has its own story, and we enjoyed chatting with proprietress Michelle Wertheim and hearing some of those stories.

Go hear some of them yourself! Bella Vino is located at 13140 US Hwy 281 N., Spring Branch, TX 78070, and can be reached at (830) 228-5330.