The atmosphere at Sbrocco is established immediately upon entering the building. Soft music plays throughout the restaurant from the moment the door opens. The restaurant is dimly lit with small tables and a full bar. The dinner crowd enjoys its meals at the tables, with a glass of wine in hand, of course.
Sbrocco Wine is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It features a total of 33 wines by the glass and 100 bottles ready to be served at the restaurant. The retail wine shop located in the cellar has between 500 to 600 labels from white and red wines, sparkling wines and port wines, which are considered a dessert wine.
The wine bar is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Formal wine tasting takes place here. There are plenty of wines available to sample, all set out in the bottle so the taster can read about it. Different representatives from wine companies or employees are available to help the taster fully experience and enjoy the wine. There are also informal tastings called wine flights. Instead of one full glass of wine to taste, the tasters choose three different wines to taste in smaller amounts that add up to one glass of wine, allowing them to sample more than one wine without having three different glasses. This is often done over a meal.
Sbrocco also attends the Des Moines Farmer’s Market every Saturday. There, Sbrocco representatives take anywhere from four to eight bottles of wine for people to sample.
The Holiday Show, its biggest wine event, takes place on Nov. 13. All of Sbrocco’s wine holders show up for the largest tasting event in Des Moines. This event features from 120-140 different wines open to taste. There are also discounts and special buys available for this day only.
Sbrocco isn’t only about wine. The shop features a full bar with wine and other liquor so that there’s something for everyone. They also have cheese plates where customers can pick four different types of cheese from the menu, including cheeses like Asiago Pressut, Cambozola, Machego and Gouda. The menu lists what wines go well with the cheeses.
Sbrocco serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The lunch menu is generally composed of sandwiches. The manager, Kevin Adams, calls them “American classics with our own little twist.” Lunch is not overly fancy or overpriced, running around $8 a meal. The dinner menu is more of a bistro format with small appetizers and larger entrees such as duck breast, sautéed skatewing. and seafood stuffed polenta.
Sbrocco features wines from many different countries all over the world. They also try to use food items that are fresh locally, so the menu is changing nearly every season.
Sbrocco Wine has only been open for two-and-a-half years. Previously, the Sbrocco family owned it as a produce and grocery market. The store was reopened as a wine bar and wine shop on June 5, 2008, and although the Sbrocco family has no affiliation with the new shop, their name was kept to honor the previous business.
Since the transformation from groceries to wine, Sbrocco has only changed slightly to serve more food than originally planned. However, the theme of a fun and relaxing wine bar that isn’t overpriced has not changed.
While Sbrocco doesn’t hold many major awards, Adams is not at all concerned about this.
“It’s more important that the people in the seats are happy,” he said.
Photos: Connor McCourtney