Jul/Aug
2017

Al Fresco Dining: From downtown patios to neighborhood hangouts

Written by Nicole L. Czarnomski
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Because summer is in full swing, we wanted to find the best places for you to hangout and enjoy the perfect summer sip. We found 11 restaurants with patio and rooftop seating that offer fabulous happy hour specials so you and a friend or two can enjoy the warm summer air, along with a cocktail.

STREET LEVEL PATIOS DOWNTOWN

Victoria’s Ristorante and Wine Bar

Centrally located downtown, Victoria’s has patio seating for 50-60 people. Their house wine is La Terre, which includes merlot, cabernet, Chianti, Lambrusco, white zinfandel, chardonnay and pinot grigio and is about $7 per glass. On Wine Wednesday, you can indulge in a bottomless glass for $8. Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and house wines are only $4.50 per glass.

 

“Our favorite wines for the summer are chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, moscatos, rosés and sangria,” says Natalie Victoria, owner and operator of Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar. “Our customers love sangria in the summer, and blush wines have made a huge comeback.”

They have a wide range of food all made from scratch. Ryan Tator, manager, says, “It’s tough to recommend the perfect wine from our menu because everyone’s palate is different.” He says you can ask for a sample before you order a full glass.

Chester’s Kitchen and Bar

On the east end of Peace Plaza, take a seat on the patio at Chester’s. They offer happy hour rates Monday to Sunday from 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close with $2 off wine, beer and cocktails. A glass of wine is normally around $8 per glass.

 “We have a new jalapeno burger with a blackberry jam and candied bacon,” says Stacy Brambrink, service manager. “It’s topped with brie cheese curds that are absolutely amazing. It goes well with a house red,” she said.

Their house red includes Robert Mondavi Cabernet and Merlot. The house white wines are Robert Mondavi Chardonnay and Luccio Pinot Grigio. Some of Chester’s best sellers for summer include La Marca Prosecco, Chandon Rosé Split, sparkling wines, and Dr. Loosen Riesling. If you’re a lover of red wines, check out La Crema Pinot Noir and Alamos Malbec.

Salute Wine Bar & More

Salute is a great place in Peace Plaza to sit outside and sip wine. Their patio seats about 40, and happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. They have Trapiche house wines including chardonnay, pinot grigio, cabernet and Malbec. For happy hour, they pour six-ounce glasses for $4. Otherwise, the house wines are $7 for a six-ounce pour and $10 for a nine-ounce pour. 

The Sonoma Coutrer Chardonnay is their best-selling wine. It’s $15 per glass and pairs well with cucumber and feta bruschetta.

Terza Ristorante

Located on the southeast corner of Broadway and Third Street South, Terza Ristorante offers street-level outdoor seating. Wine is about $7 per glass for three ounces or $11 per glass for 6 ounces. Ordering by the ounce is a great way to taste a couple of different wines, if you are undecided. Their Guenoc house wines include merlot, pinot noir, pinot grigio, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. 

Happy hour at Terza is offered at two separate times, 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close. They also have half-price antipasti, including cured salami pizza or taleggio (cheese) and wild mushroom pizza. Bruce Paine says the prosciutto and fig pizza is also a favorite. “Pair it with a Charles Smith ‘Boom-Boom Syrah,’” he says. “It has a little spice to it and acts as a palate cleanser.” 

ROOFTOPS DOWNTOWN

La Vetta

Without a doubt, La Vetta has the best patio seating in town. They are located seven stories above Terza, their sister restaurant. It overlooks Mayo Clinic, the Plummer Building and Rochester’s beautiful skyline. They’re open year-round, and in the summer, they open up the glass garage door so everyone gets a taste of the warm, fresh Minnesota air. 

La Vetta offers the same house wines as Terza, and happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. La Vetta has their own unique menu. Kathryn Oeltjen and Nicholas Anthony, wait staff, were incredibly enthusiastic about the menu and had great things to say about the very popular Stars n Stripes burger. It’s a seasoned burger with brioche, bacon jam, cheddar, romaine, a tomato slice, Cajun onion and basil mayo. 

The Tap House

Although The Tap House isn’t known for their wines, they still offer a great selection. LaMarca Prosecco, St. Gabriel Riesling, Canti Moscato, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and William Hill Chardonnay are their white wines. And for the red wines, enjoy Apothic Red, Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir and a Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon. On average, wine is about $7 per glass. They don’t offer happy hour drink specials.

“The Stone Fruit Sangria and the Blackberry Mojito are very popular during the summer,” Natalie Victoria, owner, said. “The Tap House Caliente isn’t as recognized as the others, but it’s delicious. It’s made with jalapeno-infused Patron, pom-passion fruit puree, blood orange bitters and lime juice,” she said.

NEIGHBORHOOD HANGOUTS

Wildwood Sports Bar & Grill 

Wildwood, located in the back of Kahler Apache in southwest Rochester, has a patio that seats about 60 people. Their happy hour spans Monday to Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 3-6 p.m. There are no happy hour specials on wine, but for Wine Wednesday they offer $4 off per glass. 

Their wine menu includes easy drinking summer wines: Canti Sparkling Moscato, St. Gabriel Riesling, Candoni Pinot Grigio and Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re a diehard red wine drinker go for their Apothic Red or Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Merlot.

Twigs Tavern & Grille

Located in the pill hill area, Twigs patio seats 60-70 people. Their house wines are Big House Cabernet and Pinot Grigio. Wines average about $8 per glass, and happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. You’ll get $1 off wine during happy hour. 

“Our most popular wines for the summer are the Starling Riesling and the Sycamore Lane Chardonnay,” says Brianna Clement, manager. “These wines pair well with gluten-free parmesan crisps and onion rings.”

Forager Brewery

There are a few breweries in Rochester northwest of downtown, but the only one with wine is Forager, located near Barlow plaza, in between Kutzky Park and Cooke Park neighborhoods. Their rustic wood-fired pizzas pair well with their wines, which range from $7.50-12 a glass. 

Locally produced Cannon River Winery Sogn Blanc, made of Edelweiss grapes, a semi-sweet wine with  hints of passionfruit and floral, is available by the glass ($7.50) or bottle ($30). Forager’s wine list includes rich, berry reds and lighter white wines. Try their sangria made with Wisconsin distillery 45th Parallel Madison Avenue Orangecello, Arajan Armenian Brandy, red and white wine ($9 per glass) on a summer afternoon or evening on the patio at Forager.

Mr. Pizza North

Mr. Pizza North offers happy hour Monday to Friday from 4-6 p.m. and includes beer and appetizers. The house wines are named House and include chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, merlot and a red blend. Heather Jacobson, daughter of the owners and the baker said, “The more popular wines are tough because we have a broad list of popular wines that our guests enjoy.” The best sellers are usually cabernets, chardonnays, moscatos, Apothic Red, rieslings and Malbec. Wine by the glass is $5-10.

Mr. Pizza North celebrates Wednesday evening with “Wine-down Wednesday.” It’s a great night for guests to try new wines with friends. Jacobson said, “We offer half-price bottles of wine all evening!” 

“As far as food goes, I always recommend a cabernet or zinfandel with a meaty pasta or pizza,” Jacobson says. “A sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio goes well with a salad or anything with alfredo sauce.” 

“You don’t always have to drink what is recommended,” she says. “Many people drink what they really enjoy, no matter what they are eating!” 

Five West

Five West, one of the newest restaurants in northwest Rochester, has a patio that seats about 100 people. The house wines are Canyon Road Cabernet and Chardonnay, and they cost about $7 per glass. Happy hour spans from 3-6 p.m., Monday to Friday and 9 p.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday with a dollar off wine by the glass.

“Candoni Rosé is popular in the summer, and it pairs well with the chicken quinoa salad or the shrimp salad with honey and lime dressing,” Shawna Refsland, bar manager comments. “The Hakuna Moscato is another popular drink. It’s made with a moscato wine with Cruzan passion fruit rum, house-made cranberry syrup, topped with club soda and sierra mist.”

Whistle Binkies North and South (On the Lake)

Whistle Binkies has two locations, one northeast and one south, with patio seating. Both offer inexpensive and fantastic wines. Their house wines are Sycamore Lane Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet. The house wines are $3.75 per glass. Rachel Schnell says, “Bruschetta and tuna tartare appetizers are perfect with your favorite glass of wine.” 

Editor’s Note: This article is a sampling of some of Rochester’s downtown and neighborhood restaurants with outdoor seating. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive list.

 

 

Nicole L. Czarnomski is a freelance writer in the Rochester area who enjoys learning about wine from grape to glass.

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