Selected as the Best Restaurant in Tuscaloosa in 2010 by TuscaloosaRestaurant.com, Opus pairs its creative dinner menu with knowledgeable service in a modern, chic setting. Employing a variety of cooking styles and distinctive ingredients, the chefs turn out innovative plates such as tempura eggplant fries ($8) and red-pepper bisque with cauliflower and brie ($7). An artful display of wild-berry-glazed short ribs ($24) or a trio of sea bass, baked lobster mac 'n' cheese, and tiger shrimp ($36) extinguishes hunger, and freshly prepared apple bread pudding ($7) or vanilla-bean crème brûlée ($8) finish feasts. Crystal chandeliers and white tablecloths foster an elegant space for games of chess waged with the oysters du jour on the black-and-white checked floor ($10). Opus is open for dinner Tuesday–Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Patrick family first dabbled in wine-making on their 24-acre estate back in 2001, when only one other vineyard operated in Shelby County. After a few seasons of practice and success, they decided to officially dedicate a portion of their land to cultivating grapes, and formally established Ozan Vineyard & Cellars in 2005. In 2013, they expanded with additional vineyard viewing areas, event space, and a winery boutique.
Using a combination of grapes grown on their own land and sourced from the East Coast, Ozan currently produces a series of varietals, including riesling, chardonnay, Chilton County peach, Norton red, and cabernet sauvignon. Conceived of traditional winemaking methods in small lots of French and American barrels, the vinos develop multifaceted flavors and complexity before being poured in Ozan?s tasting room or into glasses on the picturesque outdoor patio.
Set on sprawling farmland, Vizzini Farms Winery bottles a diverse selection of wine crafted from West Coast and Alabama vinifera grapes. Daily tours sneak groups behind the scenes of the second-generation Italian family’s winemaking process, which yields riesling piqued with tropical fruits and pinot grigio that's as lively as a 30-piece kazoo orchestra. A charming tasting room recalls a sunny Italian café, with warm yellow walls, racks of wine, and bistro tables ideal for gathering over a bite of deli fare and Italian-style desserts. On warm days, the spacious patio is open for enjoyment, providing views of surrounding vineyards and breezes with notes of black currant, citrus, and oxygen.
A broad front porch stretches across the main residence at Hidden Meadow Vineyard, inviting visitors to kick up their feet, tip back a glass of fruit wine, and admire the verdant view. Owners Bill and Janette Bailey manage the small, family-run winery, which specializes in bottles made from muscadine, concord, niagara, and cynthiana grapes. Their roster of wines includes blackberry and blueberry wines as well as scuppernong, a sweet, old-fashioned white wine.
At The Pita Hut, diners look in on an open-air kitchen as creative chef Joseph Matta and a troupe of cooks craft Mediterranean meals with grilled and roasted meats, fresh produce, and handmade sauces. At dinnertime, the restaurant endures a moonlit transformation into Joseph's Table at The Pita Hut, and entrances eyes of evening foragers with a roster of dinner specialties during full-service suppers. Incisors sink into stuffed grape leaves ($10.99) bursting with a medley of lamb and beef tucked in with homemade yogurt. Shrimp adobados ($13.99) satiate tummy grumbles with a conga line of grilled chipotle jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon as tightly as the nylon-clad legs of an overweight circus bear. On a patio lit by intertwining strands of tiny white lights, drained wine glasses ($3.75) and baklava flakes ($3.49) disappear from tables by the capable hands of a nocturnal wait staff as pungent aromas twirl from snaking hookah arms.
Fried Alabama-grown green tomatoes, encrusted in cornmeal ($7), are a golden start to a journey through the Southern-fried favorites and European-pub classics on the dinner menu. The J. Clyde's caprese ($9) stacks Italian standards (fresh tomato and mozzarella) with Southern flavors (fried okra and pancetta), and the vegetable boxty ($13) subverts the Irish potato pancake by boxing locally-grown vegetables in a light European crust. Entrees such as grilled grouper, steak au poivre, and Bavarian sausage (entrees range from $8 to $23) satisfy any appetite for cullinary adventure. Or order off the comfort-food-filled pub menu to sup on steak and eggs ($15) or customizable pizza (starting at $9, with Alabama goat cheese available for $2 extra.)