redwhite+bluezz, a nightly confluence of wine, contemporary American cuisine, and live jazz music, won the Best Live Music Club and Best Wine Selection awards from Pasadena Weekly in 2011. Divided into The Grill and The Vintage Room, the decorated eatery fuels feasts with a menu of grilled beef, seafood, and chicken dishes alongside platters of artisan cow, sheep, and goat cheeses and trays covered in charcuterie, some cured in-house. Seasoned sommelier Russ Meek complements the eats by crafting his signature flight menus, which offer pairing suggestions from the expansive wine list, 40 of which are available by the glass. Sounds of humming horns, rattling drums, and strumming guitars reverberate in the jazz club, where heralded local musicians perform every night and during Sunday brunch. Dedicated to enriching entertainment, redwhite+bluezz hosts a slew of monthly events, including 90-minute flight school sessions that document the history, background, and embarrassing middle school stories of local wines.
Like the woman from whom it takes its name, Roxolana Restaurant captures the imagination. An Ottoman empress in the 16th century, the Ukrainian-born Roxolana earned fame and adoration by rising from slave to sultan's wife, then to puddle of borscht. Her namesake restaurant evokes the olden days with a décor of traditional Ukrainian folk art such as rushnyk, or hand-embroidered towels, and oberig, or decorative wreaths.
Roxolana Restaurant's father-son team of Ukrainian chefs grill succulent meats, lace dishes with housemade spicy cayenne-tomato sauce, and whip up desserts such as red-wine mousse. They match their traditional dishes with barbecue ribs and light lunch fare. A generous selection of wines and beers refreshes throats parched from struggling to pronounce entree selections.
The Nose Wine Bar collects rare and unusual vintages from across the globe, pairing bouquets with a range of hot and cold small plates amid the soft light of flickering candles. A rotating wine menu culls the creations of French, Italian, and Californian vintners and includes three-wine-tasting flights to tempt indecisive diners and three-headed wine critics alike. Rows of gleaming bottles line the walls as creamy leather seating surrounds intimate two- and four-person tables. On Friday and Saturday, live musicians vibrate wineglasses and awaiting eardrums with solo melodies.
The Bodega Wine Bar provides wine lovers a casual setting to share plates and try new wines with friends without requiring a deep grapey understanding. Fluff out your cheeks for a cheese plate's offering of the day's selections paired with crackers, nuts, and quince paste ($13) while sipping a glass of Ferreira tawny porto ($9) or one of Bodega's Private Label wines—a Paso Robles red and a Santa Ynez white ($8). While gargling bored doe merlot ($9/glass), snack on a smoked-turkey panini made with tomato, arugula, pesto mayo, and goat cheese ($10). Various pizzas are also available ($11–$13), and beer, cold sake, and soju cocktails await those who don't like wine but want to keep their tongues from shriveling up into a tongue-raisin.
Film producer Gale Anne Hurd knows how to set a scene. At Vertical Wine Bistro, she has outdone herself—glass bubbles hang from the ceiling, making the dining room feel as if it’s inside a glass of champagne. As if that weren’t enough, a floor-to-ceiling glass wine cellar divides the bar from the dining room.
When you walk into Bacaro, you're literally surrounded by wine. Look up and you'll see countless bottles encased in a glass display in the ceiling; look ahead and you'll see dozens more standing in neat rows behind the bar. A list of international, small-production wines fills one wall, scrawled on a chalkboard like a PTA's happy-hour menu. Rounding out the constantly changing selection is house-made sangria and an equally impressive lineup of international craft beers.
Executive chef Lior Hillel, who honed his skills at New York's illustrious Jean-Georges, prepares a menu that vibes with the focus on wine. Italian-style cicchetti?small-plate servings similar to tapas?are served in hot and cold varieties, ranging from poached shrimp in a citrus-chili sauce to a lamb-stuffed eggplant topped with lemon-garlic emulsion. These inventive sauces are some of the best parts of each dish, as the restaurant bottles and sells them both onsite and at Whole Foods and other local retailers.