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May 14th, 2014 MATTHEW KORFHAGE | Bar Reviews
 

Carmella’s: Mellow Mella

bar_4028(carmella)CARMELLA’S - IMAGE: cameronbrowne.com

Despite its generic brick, hardwood and neutral-green décor, Carmella’s (1320 SE Water Ave., 232-1633, carmellaswines.com) reveals unexpected comforts. And unexpected strangeness. Bedford will be the first to greet you at this Produce Row wine bar. He’s a little eager, but friendly, and remarkably well-mannered considering he was found on the side of the road. The pied-fur border collie hangs out at Carmella’s most days, sometimes parking near the front hearth, which is fired with real wood and stoked regularly. Above the hearth is a framed Model T license plate, found by owner Maggie Shippy next to an old tire in the train tracks that run underneath the bar’s floor—the presumed remnants of a terrible accident. Shippy will open a hatch in the hardwood to show you the tracks, provided you don’t look drunk enough to fall into the yawning chasm. The bar extends backward, to a room of circular settees and yet another wood-fired hearth, plus a third, long-tabled room in the back presided over by a push-pinned map showing the travels of Shippy’s grandmother, Carmella. The vast stores of wine—the menu is the length of a book, including 45 different bottles from Turley and 17 Châteauneufs-du-Pape—are hidden behind a ground-level bank vault door. It’s a mostly solo shop, and Shippy describes the wine a little breathlessly, like a music geek who’s been asked about her favorite Alan Lomax discovery. Despite the highfalutin vintages, the result is a bit small-towny, and three-glass flights run $15 to $18 for red, white, bubbly or rosé in regional variations. The bar plans to build a deck that will look out on the Water Avenue gravel pit. Drink some wine, watch the world get made new.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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