As Felipe Gomes's new restaurant was being built, he happened across a boarded-up room downstairs. Though the 600-square-foot room, dusty with a half-century of disuse, contained only boxes of aged financial records, Felipe instantly saw the space's potential. The drywall and plaster were torn down to reveal yellow-brick walls and walnut beams, which became the foundation for Aroma Mediterranean Restaurant's wine cellar. Now the space is fully remodelled; beyond a doorway entangled with grapevines, a vault built into the floor displays 220 bottles of wine visible through heavy-tempered glass. Nearly 100 more bottles of wine shelved along the walls vie for tasters' attentions with flashy magic tricks and labels boasting various international origins.
Diners sift through a menu equally inspired by international flavours. Portuguese and Spanish recipes transform fresh seafood, duck, and steak into entrees steeped in inventive sauces, such as the chef's favourite—calamari stuffed with chorizo and breadcrumbs in an Andalusian-style sauce. Servers can deliver meals in a courtyard-esque dining room or a private room where video conferencing enables patrons to dine with family or etiquette instructors halfway around the world. Guests can also learn to re-create their meal at home by visiting the eatery's on-site cooking studio, whose classes demonstrate the art of the four-course meal.