Pranzo Bistro Vegetarian Wine Dinner -- Willoughby, OH

Last night we made a spur of the moment decision to drive up to Willoughby to enjoy the once a month five course wine dinner offered at Pranzo Bistro. Once a month Cleveland Wine Tastings hosts a five course wine dinner featuring a different winery and themed menu. Dave and I are both vegetarians and it's not often that we see a multiple course dinner that's all vegetarian. We were pretty excited and although Willoughby is about an hour away, we drove up after work.

All of the wines were from Luca Wines an Argentinean Winery with high elevation grown grapes. Luca is a family owned winery and is named for owner Laura Catnea's eldest son. Laura combines Luca's grapes grown from old vines and oak aging to create one of a kind wines which were the subject of our pairings last night.

Course 1: Green Bean Salad tossed with toasted walnuts and house made vinaigrette paired with Reginato Rose of Malbec. It was fun to start with something bubbly, the Reginato Rose of Malbec was a nice palate opener and paired nicely with the clean flavors of the salad. The salad was served with vinaigrette made from 8-year old vinegar stored at Pranzo.

Course 2: Vegetable Polpetta made with potatoes, zucchini, green onions, and pecorino romano over avocado aioli and arugula. This course was paired with Luca Chardonnay. The Luca Chardonnay was the only white wine that we had during any of the five courses. It starts with 100% chardonnay grapes from high elevation 21-year old vines. The wine is then aged in oak and stainless steal barrels, the oak helps give it a little toast, whereas the stainless steel barrel gives the wine some of those pops of green apple and melon.

We didn't know what to expect from this course, because neither of us was sure what a polpetta was, but the delightful little potato fritters that we were served might have been my favorite course. The cakes were fried, but crisp, not greasy.

Course 3: Eggplant Rollatini, eggplant rolled with ricotta, fresh basil, and marinara. This course was paired with Luca's Double Select Syrah. The Double Select Syrah starts with 50-year old vines at a high elevation, meaning the deeper roots help to give more minerality to the finished product. The Double Select Syrah is aged in two ways, the first portion of wine is aged in new oak barrels, the second portion of wine is aged in two year oak barrels. The wine is then combined to form the finished product. 

Eggplant Rollatini is a classic, so it's hard to go wrong with this course. I appreciated the portion size on this one, it was just enough to get me officially ready for my main course. The fresh basil was divine. 

Course 4: Cacio e Pepe was the main course -- fresh semolina pasta tossed with pecorino romano, acqua cotta, cracked black pepper and fire roasted tomatoes and carrots. This course was paired with Luca's Malbec made from grapes harvested from 47 year old vines, the pepperiness of the Malbec paired very well with the black pepper in the Cacio e Pepe. 

This was an interesting course, the pasta was served with a light white sauce. The fire roasted carrots took on a sweet flavor, whereas the fire roasted tomatoes were juicy and savory. The black pepper throughout really brought out the spice notes in the Malbec.

Course 5: Frutti di Bosco was the final course and it consisted of blackberries and strawberries dipped in chocolate over mascarpone cheese. Dessert was paired with Luca Beso de Dante a red wine blend made of 50% cabernet franc, 35% malbec, and 15% cabernet sauvignon. The big and bold finish on this wine pairs nicely with chocolate, making it the perfect way to end our evening.  

Dessert wasn't saccharine sweet which was the best way to end the wine dinner. The sweet tartness of the berries and the mascarpone cheese was just enough to leave me feeling like the meal had reached it's completion. 

Adam from Cleveland Wine Tastings said that this was one of the most well attended monthly wine dinners at Pranzo Bistro and I'm happy that the vegetarian plates were able to draw such a crowd. As I mentioned before, we registered the morning of the event and had no issues getting a seat reserved. For the wine dinners at Pranzo you'll need to register online at $10 per person to hold the seat, after the dinner you'll pay the remainder of the balance which is $40 per person. At first Dave was a little put off by the $50 per person price tag, because that's more than we typically spend per person on a night out. But when I reminded him that the breakdown was about $10 per course including the wine, he decided that it was a really good deal. 


  1. Replies
    1. Everything was delicious, we're looking forward to going back if they host another vegetarian or vegan event!


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