Beer buffs have long had places to wet their whistles in the Christmas City, most notably the Bethlehem Brew Works, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. But what about wine lovers? Don't they deserve a place to call their own?
Joe Grisafi, chef and co-owner of Bethlehem's Corked Wine Bar and Steak House, thinks so. The restaurant held a soft opening Oct. 18 at 515 Main St., the former site of The Morning Call's Bethlehem bureau.
"Sure, they could find a suitable glass of chardonnay or merlot at most bars around here, but is suitable really sufficient?" asks 31-year-old Grisafi, a resident of Whitehall Township. "We serve premium wines in various size pours, so someone who may not want to pay around a $100 for a bottle can still enjoy a taste for around $5."
Corked features eight Napa Technology wine machines, each holding four wines that serve three different size pours: 1 ounce (taste), 2.5 ounces (half) and 5 ounces (full). The wine list, which Grisafi says will change regularly, currently ranges in price from $2 for a taste of Pio Pinot Grigio to $360 for a bottle of Opus One Blend.
Beer aficionados are hardly left high and dry with 20 specialty beers on draft and countless more in bottles. A cocktail menu plays on the restaurant's location with names such as "Bethlehem Star" and "Main Street Manhattan."
For those looking to pair their beverage with food, Corked serves an array of tasty dishes, including appetizers such as a meat and cheese board, bacon-wrapped scallops and smoked gouda lobster mac and entrees such as free range chicken marsala, twin lobster tail and spicy rock shrimp linguini.
Of course, the steakhouse's main draw is its "fresh cuts" (featuring Pat LaFrieda meats), including a 4- or 8-ounce filet mignon, 12-ounce New York strip steak and 24-ounce prime tomahawk rib-eye.
Grisafi, who co-owns Corked with his father, Nicolo, and business partner, Lee Yeh, says work on the 6,300-square-foot space began last November. The trio aimed to give the 210-seat restaurant a "high energy, urban atmosphere" with rich colors, flat-screen TVs and modern décor.
"We want everyone — guys, girls and couples — to enjoy a delicious meal and leave feeling like they had a fun night out," Grisafi said.
The father-son pair also operate two Hanover Township, Lehigh County, restaurants: Taste of Italy in the Valley Plaza Shopping Center on Catasauqua Road and Roma Ristorante in the Airport Center shopping plaza.
Corked is Bethlehem's second wine bar, following closely on the heels of Artisan Wine and Cheese Sellers, which held a soft opening during Musikfest at 55 W. Lehigh St. (in a renovated train freight house).
Hours, which Grisafi said are likely to change, are 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Info: 610-625-9463.
In last Sunday's column, I included the recent departures of two of Corked's neighboring stores, Shuze and Mixed Bag on Main. Fortunately for downtown Bethlehem, it seems more businesses are coming than going.
Next door to the shuttered Shuze, Little Italy on Main is hoping to make a name for itself within a sea of other downtown Italian eateries, including Mama Nina, Molto Pazzo, Marlo's, Nick's, Rosanna's and Penn Pizza.
"We'll be catering to everybody — people on the go who just want to grab a slice, as well as people with a couple hours to spare who want to enjoy a nice meal," said chef and co-owner Joseph Jurkivo.
Jurkivo, who also operates Bethlehem's That's Amore on Schoenersville Road, and his brother-in-law and business partner Jack Randazzo, who also operates Bethlehem's Broad St. Pizza, are overhauling the former Alando Kenyan Cuisine and Re-wired Cafe space for a tentative mid-November opening.
On the bottom level of the Main Street Commons, two businesses recently opened their doors.
Next door to Intrigued Salon, Lehigh Vapor opened Sept. 21 in the former space of Keystone Homebrew Supply, which moved to Bethlehem's South Side in the spring.
The business, owned by George Blandford of Catasauqua, carries an array disposable and rechargeable electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) and accompanying accessories, including more than 50 flavors of e-liquids with varying levels of nicotine (0-18 milligrams per milliliter) such as cherry cheesecake, fuzzy navel and vanilla caramel.