by Cheryl Baehr
This week's review invites my compatriots on this side of the Missouri to make the jaunt across the Blanchette Bridge to old town St. Charles' Bella Vino Wine Bar & Tapas (325 South Main Street, St. Charles; 636-724-3434).
Before my visit to this quaint little tapas spot, it had been years since I had spent any time in the St. Charles historic district. To be honest, in the 30-plus years that I have lived here, I can count on one hand the number of times that I've been to Main Street -- and that's with my hand giving the peace sign. My trip to Bella Vino showed me what I had been missing: cobblestone streets, quaint bookstores, chic boutiques and sweeping views of the majestic river in its icy winter glory.
Did Bella Vino make as good of an impression as its neighborhood? Here is a sneak preview of my thoughts -- the full review will be online tomorrow and in this week's issue.
The river that separates St. Louis from St. Charles County may as well be as wide as the Pacific Ocean. At least that is the impression I got from most of my friends when I asked them to accompany me to Bella Vino, the new wine bar and tapas restaurant on St. Charles' historic Main Street. Judging from their reaction, Earth City might as well be the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
This should not be, as it's impossible to not be taken with Bella Vino. Owners Ashley Morrison and Jackie Miller, longtime restaurant industry veterans (their resume includes Aqua Vin, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Busch's Grove) wanted to create a comfortable and warm space, and they nailed it. Bella Vino is located in a converted two-story house. An outdoor fireplace and rustic wrought iron furniture greets diners as they walk up the brick stairs to the front door, and inside the place is tiny -- tight, in fact -- with tables placed close together around the fireplace in what was once someone's living room. The place made me feel like I was on a weekend getaway at a bed and breakfast.