We Review Alloro Wine Bar

“That’s as good a meal as I’ve had,” said Bear, the Master of Understatement, after my birthday dinner. I had wanted a special place to celebrate and although I didn’t get a complimentary dessert or a singing-and-dancing wait staff, Alloro Wine Bar & Restaurant was extraordinary by Coos County standards.

Alloro is a grown-up dining experience such as one would expect from Seattle or San Francisco. Owners Jeremy Buck and Lian Schmidt have strived to create an “enoteca” (wine library) with the best vintages Oregon and Italy have to offer. The extensive wine list also features selections from Spain, Germany, France, Washington and California. Lian is a sommelier (wine steward plus) and Jeremy is the head chef. Both studied in Florence, Italy; a fact which shines throughout the menu. Whenever possible the bill of fare features fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. The offerings change frequently according to what catch is in and which veggies are ripe. Every item is ala carte which means you can put together your ideal combination of dishes, but that also means the total cost of your dinner will add up fast.

Alloro Wine Bar & Restaurant

Appetizers are between $5-$12. Soups and salads are separately priced between $6 and $12. First courses (handmade pasta with assorted sauces and meats) run between $10-$15. Entrees are $19-$25 with the exception of their bistecca florentina, a T-bone steak served on a myrtlewood platter that costs $1.50 an ounce. Since the steaks are between 50 and 60 ounces this is an item to share with friends. The night we were there all of the sides (potatoes and vegetables) cost $5 and desserts were in the $6-$8 range. The wine list is magnificent and deserving of a column all its own. By the glass is $6 to $10 and bottles are $16-$165. There is also beer for $4. The liquor runs $8 for a liqueur to $15 for a single malt scotch.

The art brings one back to the lovely reality of the Oregon Coast. Karin Richardson’s media works hang in the front dining room with a sunny backdrop of earth tone sponge-painted walls. The back room features Susan Lehman’s lovely watercolors and acrylics. I had heard the restaurant was crowded and noisy which wasn’t our experience one busy Saturday night sitting in a booth in the hall between the rooms. Our waitress Christine was friendly and knowledgeable and seemed to know intuitively when we had a question or were ready to order. We knew what we wanted in wines, but I overheard Lian sharing her vast knowledge of grapes with another party. All they had to do was ask and she appeared. Bear calls this “spot-on service.”

For starters we had fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with Oregon bay shrimp and two tempura prawns ($11), Dungeness crab bisque ($12) and traditional Caesar salad with an egg, lemon and anchovy dressing, garlic croutons and reggiano cheese ($7.) The appetizer could have won a prize in an art show; it looked like a colony of cute octopi winking at us. But it tasted so good, light and flavorful that it didn’t last long enough to enter. I even ate the endive upon which it was served. The broth was rich with cream and sour cream goodness adding to the freshness of the crab pull. We thought we might have detected a hint of fennel in the mix. Whatever it was, it was so good I wanted to lick the bowl. The salad was amazing. There was no skimping on the dressing which I could tell had been mixed on premises.

Our first course was a halibut ravioli tossed with basil-pinenut pesto ($10.) While I wished it had more halibut, the pasta and sauce was clearly not out of a package. I got my halibut fix on my entrée, a baked halibut filet on a bed of local new potatoes and saffron-chive cream and Dungeness crab butter sauces ($24.) The fish was flaky and done and the sauce was exceptional, no skimping on the saffron. Bear ordered a 12 ounce New York strip steak with fingerling potatoes, and a choice of white truffle or gorgonzola butter. It appeared to have been rubbed with the same coarse grey sea salt used in their signature steak. Bear said it was served hot and as ordered. He recommends the gorgonzola sauce as a perfect finish to the dish. Again, the garnish was so good I ate all of the arugula. The bread was thick and yummy. I asked if Jeremy made it himself. Apparently it is ordered out but half baked in the kitchen.

Alloro Wine Bar & Restaurant

For dessert I had “Fire and Ice” ($8) and Bear ordered a cannelloni stuffed with sweet ricotta and fresh berries ($7.) The F&I had a little bit of everything for the birthday girl. It was a “volcano” of rich chocolate cake covered with hot dark chocolate fudge and topped with hand dipped chocolate covered cherries and vanilla gelato. Although the ice didn’t have the intense flavor I remember from my one trip to Italy it definitely sufficed and the rest of the dessert was heavenly. The chocolate is worthy of the connoisseur. Bear’s cannelloni was crisp, the cheese had the right amount of sweet and the blueberries and blackberries were overflowing the creation.

We shared a bottle of Antinori Bolgheri Vermentino ’06 from Tuscany (a white) for $37 and a glass of Rosa del Golfo, also Italian (a red) for $9.50. The Antinori was complex. Like some reds it opened up after breathing a bit to treat us to a well made, well balanced slightly sweet complex flavor. I think Italian whites are a well kept secret. The rosa also had a great flavor and smell complementing the steak and gorgonzola.

As we were leaving we noticed how crowded the restaurant had become. Another surprise. I had expected golfers, but it was more than half locals. We stopped to chat with acquaintances at the bar and I kinda wanted to linger and play, but I didn’t have room for another bite or drop. The bar was shiny and comfortable. The relaxed look on our friends’ faces confirmed they too were having an enjoyable Alloro experience. We added a $25 tip to our $147.50 bill ($172.50 for a night out) and vowed to come back again.

You can find them in Old Town Bandon at 375 2nd St and can call them at 347-1850. The Alloro is currently open 7 days a week from 4:00 - 9:30, but the hours vary by season, and they are closed in January and February. Four 1/2 happy Mongothumbs.

4 1/2 Happy MongoThumbs

Reviewed by Ducque August 2008

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