So I’m sitting at the Toledo Mud Hens game on Monday, lamenting the lack of a comprehensive “wine list”, when the guy sitting next to me with his two sons strikes up a conversation.
I could see his sons, so I got out my cell phone and showed him pictures of my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. His son, age 9, thought my granddaughter, age almost-8, was cute. (Does it really begin that young now?!? Time to put that girl on a short leash.)
The conversation eventually switched to wine, and my new friend told me that while he wouldn’t go to Fifth Third Field for a memorable wine experience, there were a couple of places around town that he and his wife liked to go for “date nights.”
“We like Georgio’s a lot,” he said, referring to a restaurant officially dubbed Georgio’s Café International. “They’re known for their seafood, but I love their beef stroganoff, when they have it: it’s one of their specials.
“I like it because they have a lot of wines by the glass,” he added. “My wife likes mostly reds, and I like mostly whites, so that’s a good way for us to go.”
I checked out the wine (by the bottle) list, and it includes most of the “usual suspects” you’d find on a list “developed” by a distributor—Mondavi, Sterling, Ravenswood, J. Lohr, et al. The international selections were likewise predictable—Joseph Drouhin, Louis Latour, Penfolds and, of course, Santa Margherita.
There were a couple of pleasant surprises, though: a Meritage bottling from Estancia, always a good value; and a nice Chateauneuf du Pape from Louis Bernard—both extremely food-friendly. There also were a couple of seafood-friendly Rieslings.
Almost off-handedly, my new friend added, “We’ve gone to a couple of wine dinners there.”
Indeed, Georgio’s had just recently hosted a dinner featuring the wines of Napa Valley’s Stags’ Leap Winery. A similar meal in Chicago would have cost $100 or $125, plus tax and tip. In Toledo, at Georgio’s, it was $75, all-inclusive.
Any other dining tips?
“Zia’s—if you like Italian.”
“Who doesn’t like Italian?” I replied.
“Good point. Zia’s is known for their family-style meals where you can share a lot of things. The boys love the meatballs. But my wife and I will go there sometimes by ourselves. She’s a big fan of the chicken piccata, and I like this dish that comes with a chicken breast, sausage and shrimp.”
A quick scan of the menu reveals that the dish is called Spiedini Misti, and is served with roasted potatoes.
The wine list features mostly Italian selections, but I also was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a handful of labels that we’ve featured over the years in the wine clubs of Vinesse: Brutocao…Bridlewood…Rodney Strong…Bliss.
The late John Denver famously sang, and Randy Sparks perhaps not so famously wrote: “Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio is like being nowhere at all.” It’s obvious that neither had ever been to dinner at Georgio’s or Zia’s… or, for that matter, attended a Toledo Mud Hens game.