Molinari’s in Southside Bethlehem opened last evening and we stopped in for some pics and to check out the menu/drinks list. Let’s start off with a quick overview of the menu. They have it broken down into antipasti, salad, soup, pizza, pasta, fish, meat, and sides. The menu is varied, including authentic dishes and ingredients (pine nuts, hazelnuts, pesto, Italian cheese, etc). Owner Fran Molinari says the menu will change with the seasons.
The drinks list is interesting to say the least. Easily the most inclusive Italian beer list I’ve seen anywhere, they’re sporting Nuova Mattina, Moretti, and Peroni on draft. The General Manager noted that they may have more craft on in the future. The beer bottle list is very impressive, spanning many styles and price ranges. Some of these bottles have rarely been seen in theUS, let alone in this area. Thanks to B. United imports and Shangy’s, Molinari’s is enjoying a great beer selection. The only additions I’d make here are the Xyauyu series (although it is very pricey) from Birrificio Baladin and an assortment of offerings from Birrificio Montegioco, perhaps tied with Baladin for best Italian brewery out there.
The wine list is varied, including some oft-forgotten-about varieties. With prices ranging in the $6.50-$7 for a glass area and $22-$56 for bottles, the prices aren’t astronomical. Although there are many different varietals to choose from, it’s baffling to me that there’s a lack of Barolo, Barbaresco, or any other Nebbioli-heavy wine on the list. Some other oversights include big Super Tuscans, Moscato, and any sort of sparkling or dessert wines (Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti). Also of note is their WineKeeper system, which keeps their by-the-glass bottles nitrogenated and stable for long periods of time. Update: Check below for a note on the wine selections from the owner.
Their liquor selection is decent, including some Italian offerings like Cynar (artichoke bitters), Aperol, Campari, Fernet Branca, Averna, Galliano, Nardini grappa, and Tuaca. Such ingredients are essential in a proper Italian bar, as digestif and aperitif drinks are staple of Italian lifestyle. Another cool detail is Molinari Sambuca. The Molinari company, no relation to the restaurant owners, produces one of the best Sambucas in the world. The restaurant family toured the Sambuca facility inItalyand subsequently serve the beverage in their bar, complete with Molinari Sambuca barmats and small liquor glasses.
Desserts include Italian staples like gelato and after-dinner coffees. Mr. Molinari stated that the restaurant, due to construction setbacks, is still a bit behind on artwork and signage. He hopes to have the artwork rectified within a week and have signage up by the end of December. Responding to the fact that the past two restaurants in that space (Lucky Duck Diner and Steel Mill Grill) didn’t last very long, Mr. Molinari said that the atmosphere, street presence, and social media campaign will all help to bring people in the door. Stay tuned for a review in the coming months.