We may have a winner. The reason I modify is because, "Emilia" 2038 Madison Road, Cincinnati 45208 (513)-843-5773 is certainly starting out as a fun, first class Italian Wine Bar, with excellent food and wine. The service is good, and after a bit more training and familiarity with the wines, will also be above average. Pricing is reasonable and the "pour" is decent.
They opened a week ago and four of us went at approximately 6:45 PM last evening, at that time we were offered our choice of two tables. By 7:30 the place was full with a short wait unless patrons wished to be seated at the bar, where food service is also available.The pricing of the "ala carte" menu is $10 to $14 for the specialty salads( a small salad is available at $2 to accompany dinner items) and $15 to $17 for the Pasta's. There are skewers of Shrimp, Lamb and Chicken for $12 to $14 and Pizza's at $12 to $14. Bar snacks, cheeses and Dolce(sweets) cover most of the other food items. Wines are Whites, Rose and Red, all Italian, and some by the glass( 2 sizes) and all with full bottles available.
I started with a glass, approx a 5oz pour, of Barbera d' Alba( medium red) but unfortunately was brought a Rose. It was returned promptly and replaced correctly. That was the only "slip up" of the evening. Nothing major.
For dinner I enjoyed the Avocado and Grapefruit salad, crisp romaine, cucumbers and ricotta shavings with 4 or 5 pieces of ripe avocado but only two small part sections of grapefruit. The salad had a nice balsamic vinaigrette and make a good opening salad course.
My Pasta was Squid Ink Spaghetti, made in house as are all the pastas, with roasted( sweet) corn, scallions, squid( bite sized) in a light and slightly spicy jalapeno oil. The dish was delicious and our table and visitors, from another table, who we knew, all took a tastes. The portion size, while not hugh( goody), was plenty. For dessert we, 4, shared an order of perfect Fried Ricotta Fritters served with homemade marmalletta(marmalade) and chocolate sauce. The fritters were crisp on the outside, but not at all greasy, and soft and silky inside.
Marilyn had the Black Pepper Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce. I took a taste and found it wonderful. The other couple had a "Pizza con Speck" and the Shrimp and pancetta skewer. It was an auspicious opening, for a new spot, to which we will return.
Other spots, since we are out and around, have been "Terry's Turf Club" 4618 Eastern Ave, 45226 (513)533-4222 for what I consider the best burger and fries in the area, although that evening I had a shitake mushroom sandwich with grilled onions and Mango-Jalapeno sauce. Our group(5), one from Barcelona( age 14) who we took to have the quintessential meal, devoured 2 orders of "well done' French fries for starters, terrific.
"Mecklenberg Garden" 302 East University Ave. 45219 (513)221-5353), where the food though not wonderful has improved, for a night "under the vines", in the beer garden. That night we started with a warm soft pretzel with mustard dipping sauce and a medium dark Germany beer. I had Hungarian Grilled shrimp, just what the name implies, shrimp with Hungarian spices, while Marilyn split a hugh Wiener Schnitzel with the other women.
Last but not least, what do you expect, the Oriental Wok-Hyde Park and another outstanding Chinese dinner, for 7, starting with Chinese Ribs, followed by Lobster and a steamed Salmon in scallion and ginger sauce and an order of the nights special "shrimp and grits", how Chinese can one get.