In Italian wine shops, it’s not just about grabbing a quick bottle on the go.
It’s also about loitering.
In this spirit, Rosebud’s wine-swirling cousin Umbriago is taking walls of wine and spirits and transporting them into a contemporary River North bar.
Currently in soft opening mode with an official opening next week, Umbriago invites you and your date to peruse cabinets of red wine up-close or from your perch atop plush red bar stools.
Modeled after an Italian enoteca, the rustic space sports low ceilings, hardwood floors and (in a nod to the US) a flatscreen TV above a built-in fridge stocked with chilled wines.
Sure, the bartender can mix a martini or pour you a nice glass of Italian wine, but the American in you wants an Umbriago Shake with vanilla ice cream and brandy.
In proper European form, extend the evening with shareable small plates of goat cheese gnocchi, cap steak with bone marrow ravioli, and veal tenders with rosemary and truffled pastina.
The wine shop lead-in having done its job, the rest is up to you.
6 W. Hubbard St. (N. State St.), River North
Price: 3 (out of 4)
Subway: Red Line to Grand
Hot seat: Secluded booths wrap around an alcove in the back of the restaurant.
Best bets: Summer salad with lamb bacon; fried giardiniera; fried gelato with Italian honey and whipped cream
Bonus: Almost 200 bottles of wine are for sale for less than $99.
Nearby: House of Blues; Paris Club; Hub 51