With a mellow setting and calendar full of activities, Tuscan Market & Wine Shop in Arlington Heights aims to be a hangout for drinkers and Italian food lovers, while also offering a full retail shop for patrons looking to enjoy food and drinks at home.
Motif: Grab a seat at the marble bar and you can alternate between watching sports on TV and the chefs at work in the small open kitchen. Walls are painted in warm gold and red hues with a mural showing wine barrels. The large retail area sells wine and beer, along with olive oils and wine accessories. Browsing is made easy for wine novices with extensive descriptions offered for each bottle.
Crowd: The spot draws small groups of smartly dressed thirtysomethings. Reservations aren't accepted, but mingling is encouraged if you have to wait for a table. One of Tuscan Market's most popular events is the Book Club, where authors come to discuss and sign their books.
Food: The menu mixes wine-friendly eats, such as cheeses served with nuts, fruit and olives, with a full selection of Italian fare including caprese salad, ravioli, lasagna and meatball sandwiches that gives the whole space a pleasant garlicky smell. Along with a full-service dining area, there's also a deli stocking meat, cheeses and microwaveable pastas so you can get your dinner to go -- the staff will even recommend a wine or beer to pair with it. If you've got a sweet tooth, make sure to try one of the owner's homemade cookies.
Liquid consumption: While domestic and international wines are the focus of Tuscan Market & Wine Shop, the spot is as much a beer bar as it is a wine shop, offering a huge selection from breweries including Dogfish Head, O'Fallon and Lagunitas. Most beers are available by the bottle to either drink in-house or take a six-pack to go, but there are three taps serving a constantly rotating selection. When one runs out, a new one is brought in and the chalkboard menu is changed.
If you're looking to expand your drinking knowledge, the shop regularly hosts beer or wine classes with food pairings. In fact, its annual Spring Fling Wine Tasting Extravaganza on Saturday, April 13, is sold out.
Service: One of Tuscan Market's managers was behind the bar when we visited and came over to check in as soon as we sat down. When it turned out that one of the drafts we wanted was nearly out, she gave us the last of the beer we ordered and a taste of the next keg they rolled out on the house. Along with being generous and attentive, the manager was also very friendly, coming over to chat and show off her own impressive beer knowledge.
Parking: Street parking can be hard to find, so you may need to drive around a bit.
Overall: Tuscan Market & Wine Shop is a great stop for a night out or to dine in.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.