Fine wine, a unique menu and a cozy relaxing atmosphere draw many patrons to the new establishment.
Story and Photography by Paula Antolini
Aug 17, 2014 2:17PM EDT
Bethel Selectman Richard Straiton and Bethel Chamber of Commerce Board Member Jessica Castro welcomed the new owners. Owners Linda and Mike Rizzo thanked everyone and invited all those present to drink some wine. People entered excitedly to get a first glimpse. It was almost immediately a packed house as the afternoon progressed.
Bethel is fortunate to have a wonderful new wine bar / Italian-style cafe as a quaint gathering place to enjoy good company and a large selection of fine wine, beer, and a small plates and tapas-style menu.
As you enter, the completely renovated interior has the “wow” factor, exuding warmth and ambiance, making you want to linger forever. It offers several seating areas including a bar, intimate tables and chairs in three rooms, and several comfy leather sofas and chairs up front.
Bethel residents Linda and Mike Rizzo are a lovely personable couple who make patrons feel as if they are welcoming them into their home instead of a wine bar/cafe.
Mike’s experience with wine began early in life. He said he and his sister grew up making wine with his father, and added, “Wine has always been a passion and an interest of mine. A few years back my wife and I, with some friends, took a trip out to Napa Valley. She fell in love with it and it was something that I’ve always wanted to do…and we thought what better place than in our little town of Bethel. We love Bethel, we love Greenwood Avenue, we think it has so much potential. Any time you go to another town people talk about what a great downtown we have and we just wanted to expand on that, and honestly, hopefully others will follow.”
Linda said, “We wanted to keep it in our home town because we believe the more you support your home town the more you get revenue going, and we need it, so we wanted to definitely stay in our home town.” She also said, “We found this house [business location], it was small, because we didn’t want big, and the town was really helpful in helping us in put it all together in a way that kept it in the ‘historical’ manner, but also let us do what we needed to do to become a business as well, and here we are today.”
Wine making is still a family affair with Linda and Mike and their children, and his sister and family, Linda said, “who still make wine to this day.”
The establishment has a substantial wine menu which includes white, red and sparkling wines from all over the world such as Italy, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and more, as well as a wine selection from the Napa Valley in California, and Port wines, beer, and liqueurs.
“We wanted a variety of all the different nationalities, or regions, so to speak, and there are literally thousands and thousands of wines out there, so we have to limit it down, and basically every wine you see on the menu my wife and I have tasted, which is fun.” Mike said. He was hesitant to pick a favorite wine but he did say he was partial to Cabernets, particularly the Napa Valley Cabernets. “Being Italian I’m partial to some Italian wines also,” he said.
They will be rotating the wines every month so they have fresh new choices for people to try, but there are a few staples that will always stay, Linda said, and the menu will rotate with the seasons too, and have frequent specials.
The 227 Wine Bar also serves some fabulous desserts. Linda named a few, “a goat cheese cheesecake with a red wine reduction, a creme brûlée with a Nutella spread, a chocolate espresso mousse, cannoli and more.”
A quote on the wall by Robert Mondavi reads, “Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.” This just about captures the feeling of the new 227 Wine Bar.