Food & Drink

Vino and lobster-stuffed calamari await

Unlike the dates you will take to his new place, Barrel Wine Cantine head man Victor Passalacqua is totally into keeping things casual indefinitely, a serious u-turn from his fine-dining days. The "no B.S.", half wine shop/half 'hood hangout is quaintly outfitted with communal tables Victor made himself from glass-covered doors, plus 450+ wines you can either sit down with or take home, without promising that you don't want to see other wine bottles anymore

They're shunning the standard mega-distributors, meaning you can expect hand-picked, "hard to find anywhere else" varietals like 2003 Chateau Carbonnieux, 2004 Terralsole Brunello Riserva (96 on Wine Spectator!), and Veneto Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio, all available at near-retail prices with just a $10 corkage fee if you stay -- not to be confused with a $10 Corky fee, which is just what they charge at Best Buy for Life Goes On DVDs

And although Victor maintains "this is not a restaurant", it sometimes seems like it miiiight kinda be a restaurant, as you can order imported Genoa salami, cheeses like Saint Agur and Port Wine Derby, plus specials including foie gras, lobster-stuffed calamari, duck & pork galantine, and other dishes he promises "will change when I feel like it", also the rallying cry of really crappy nannies the world over

A full menu's also in the works (it'll incorporate local seafood and Homestead-picked produce), as is a beer list they promise won't have any of the regular swill, and a lineup of sherries and ports, which are the best place of all to go if you're trying to keep things casual.