Food & Drink

Vidrio opens on Glenwood South with Mediterranean-inspired menu, decor

Vidrio opened Jan. 23, 2017, on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. The menu and decor are Mediterranean-inspired, including the hand-blown glass along the wall of the main dining room.
Vidrio opened Jan. 23, 2017, on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. The menu and decor are Mediterranean-inspired, including the hand-blown glass along the wall of the main dining room. jbanov@newsobserver.com

Vidrio has opened on Glenwood South, and owner Lou Moshakos pulled out all of the stops when it comes to its design.

The Mediterranean-themed restaurant is packed with what designers refer to as “wow factors.” And that’s what you notice before you even taste the food.

The restaurant, which opened Jan. 23, is on the first two floors of the same building that houses a Carolina Ale House, and it’s the antithesis of sports bar. With a theme of “Earth, Flavor, Wine,” the restaurant incorporates art in innovative ways.

Vidrio means “glass” in Spanish, which explains why the main wall of the dining room features more than 350 glass bowls and orbs that were created by artist Doug Frates, who owns a workshop in Ohio and trains veterans to blow glass. The orbs cover the two-story wall from top to bottom in a rainbow of colors with the phrase “A moment for the time being” painted below them, to remind diners to savor every flavorful bite.

The center of the dining room has huge rope chandeliers dangling from the second floor of the ceiling along with other structural mobiles.

In addition to the first floor bar, there’s one on the second floor. Together, they have 50 wines on tap and another 200 in bottles. There also is a cocktail menu.

The first floor bar is darker and more intimate, while the second floor bar is more spacious and has a variety of seating, from carved wood tables and stools to comfy leather couches. Or, you could possible squeeze two people in a chair that appears to be fashioned from a tree, limbs and all. The second floor also features private dining space and a dining room that looks like it could have been transported from a Mediterranean villa.

As for the food, the kitchen of executive chef Ian Sullivan and chef de cuisine Saif Rahman features shareable dishes and includes a variety of small and large plates with a combination of unexpected ingredients and flavors: roasted cauliflower soup with apple cardamom chutney, for example; black rice risotto with confit mushrooms; grilled prawns with grapefruit and winter greens.

Sullivan previously worked at the University Club in Durham and the Urban Food Group in Raleigh. Rahman worked with 21c Museum Hotel in Durham and World Central Kitchen by famed chef Jose Andres. You might see them in the kitchen, whose open window gives a peek into the bustle behind the scenes.

Mediterranean is interpreted broadly: Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Turkish, Lebanese and Moroccan. A menu at a media preview had a sampling of the dishes that normally appear on the menu. The beef tartare comes with a pomegranate gastrique, or drizzle. Couscous is found in the garden and salad portion of the menu and is sprinkled with dates, apricots and watermelon radish. Hand-rolled agnolotti, a large plate, is handmade pasta purses filled with mascarpone and parsnips.

The menu currently on Vidrio’s website has many of those dishes but has varied a few of the ingredients.

Small plates include green chickpea hummus, scallop crudo, chestnut gnocchi, mussels and wood-fired prawns.

Other large plates include seared salmon with pistachio pesto, grass-fed grilled ribeye and a rotisserie pork shoulder that’s brined in honey.

Small plates are $6 to $30 (the average price is about $12). Large plates are $18 to $28, though the ribeye is $60.

The restaurant comes from Lou Moshakos, a native of Lykovrisi, Greece, and founder of LM Restaurants Inc. (The restaurant imports olive oil from Moshakos’ village.)

The company is affiliated with 21 restaurants in the Southeast, including Carolina Ale House and Taverna Agora on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Vidrio is the “anchor concept” for Platinum Portfolio, a new group of “high-end, event-styled destinations,” according to the company.

Info: Vidrio is at 500 Glenwood Ave., Suite 100, Raleigh. It is open 4:30-11 p.m., Monday to Friday; 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 5-10 p.m. Sunday. Brunch will be served Sundays starting March 5. Go to vidrioraleigh.com.

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