The mood inside Louie’s Wine Dive is as festive as the colorful chairs on its patio.
The new eatery, which recently opened where the Iowa Bakery Café was located on University Avenue, has become the new neighborhood hot spot, and appeals to many walks of life.
Its corner spot in the small strip mall features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto University Avenue. Dark wood, neutral walls and a large bar with fully-stocked shelves fill the space, which holds several large tables, perfect for gathering with friends to enjoy a few bottles of wine and food.
Louie’s was opened by Jason Kapela, a former executive chef at BRAVO! Cucina Italiano at Jordan Creek Town Center (he has two partners who live in the Kansas City area). The idea for the eatery was to create a lively, comfortable space where people could gather to enjoy good wine and food. Seeing that nearly every table was filled when we stopped by at 5:30 p.m. on a Monday, we’d call the idea a success.
The menu is an eclectic mix of creative classics, including lobster poutine (French fries with a lobster gravy and mushrooms), shrimp and grits (Iowa grits with Berkshire bacon, shrimp and Maytag cheddar cheese) and Four Park Ragu (La Quercia prosciutto, Berkshire bacon, pork shoulder and a sausage slaw with veggies served over gnocci). Salads, pasta, flatbreads and a long list of appetizers are also offered.
We started with a sampler plate of bruschetta for $8, which included two slices of each of the four kinds offered. The bread was crispy and perfectly toasted. The toppings (mozzarella cheese and roasted tomatoes, basil and balsamic glaze; roasted portabello and red peppers with chevre and arugula; jerk chicken with jicama salsa and pickled onions; seared flank steak with Maytag blue cheese and onion relish) we perfectly cooked, and the balsamic glaze was the star — deliciously sweet, savory and sticky.
At the recommendation of our server, I tried the Porchetta, a Berkshire pork shoulder stuffed with La Quercia prosciutto, fresh sage and fontina cheese, and served over “drunken” carrots and small diced asparagus. The pork was fork tender and melted in my mouth like butter. When I cut into the pork near the center, the salty, crunchy prosciutto was a nice change of flavors. The dish was comforting, but a reasonable size, so I didn’t feel stuffed and bloated after finishing it.
My friend tried the Louie’s Cobb Salad, a large mix of Romaine lettuce, pulled rotisserie chicken, Berkshire bacon, perfectly ripe avocados, local eggs, olives, sun dried tomatoes, cucumbers and onion tossed in the restaurant’s own Green Goddess Dressing. The salad was light and fresh, and the rotisserie chicken added more flavor than a chopped breast would. The dressing was light and slightly tart. The sun dried tomatoes, instead of sliced Romas, were a nice surprise.
We also ordered a half carafe of house red wine for $11, which filled each of our glasses twice. As expected, the restaurant offered a long list of wines, several which will change often.
If you’re looking for a spot to hang with friends after work and enjoy a few bottles of wine and carefully prepared, grown and produced food, Louie’s is the place.
Louie’s Wine Dive
Find it: 4040 University Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Info: 777-3416; louieswinedive.com