Restaurant Spotlight - Lincoln Winebar in Mt Vernon
Article by Shannon McGraw
Photography by Justin Fox
Lincoln Winebar opened in Mt. Vernon in 2007 as a beautiful place to stop in and share a glass of wine with friends. In 2012, they expanded to include authentic Neapolitan style wood-fired pizza; pizza made from fresh and simple ingredients. Lincoln Winebar brought in the best when it comes to the brick oven used to make the pizza, bringing in an original Stefano Ferrara hand-built brick oven from Naples, Italy. The oven is heated to 800-900 degrees to bake the pizza in an impressive 90-120 seconds. Stefano takes such pride in his creations that when the brick oven had a small crack in the floor of it, he came to Mt. Vernon himself last year to repair it. Interestingly enough, though the oven was not lit for five days when Stefano stuck his head inside to repair it, the oven was still radiating heat.
Jesse Sauerbrei was a wine and beer wholesale rep and would pick up a few shifts here and there when the Lincoln Winebar went up for sale. His knowledge and passion for wine, and love of Italian food made owning the Lincoln Winebar the perfect fit for him. With the addition of the wood-fired pizza and live music, Jesse has created a charming and relaxing atmosphere that welcomes people in and is not intimidating to those that are not wine aficionados.
In harmony with their culinary roots, the staff at LWB has a commitment to using the freshest ingredients to provide the highest quality food. He has established a partnership with five local farms to use as many farm-to-table ingredients as possible. When produce can not be bought locally, he only uses the best available and brings in meats and cheeses from the finest sources. The dough used in the pizza is also simple, but full of flavor, and made with the highest quality Caputo “OO” flour from Naples, Italy and is mixed to form the perfect dough for firing. The crust is thin and crisp yet has a nice chew and a light char that balances the toppings well.
Jesse brought in Brett Scholl last year to help play chef and lend his thoughts on the creative side of the pies. Brett has had a roll in the local food scene for many years. Along with the five pizzas that are always offered, they feature three to four specialty pizzas each week. Make sure to look for their morel mushroom pizza coming in the next couple of months.
I stopped in recently with a few colleagues to enjoy one of their wood-fired pizzas and a glass, or two, of wine. The music was lively and full of energy, and the fellow patrons looked to be at home ordering up their favorites from the menu. I could tell the community has really become a part of the Lincoln Winebar and enjoys the new pizza and live music addition.
We asked Jesse for a recommendation in wine pairing to go with our meal. He suggested a delicious rosé. This is the perfect wine pairing for most of the pizzas offered here as it embodies a balance of light sweetness with a dry finish that compliments the flavors rather than overshadowing them. They offer at least a dozen wines by the glass along with their bottle selection, and 20-plus craft beers from around the world are also on-hand at any time. These menus change often so you can stop in and try something new.
We started off with ordering a charcuterie board featuring thin sliced duck prosciutto, wild boar salami, gin and juice salami made with lamb and juniper, smoked ghuda cheese, sliced sharp Wisconsin cheddar, burrata cheese, castelvetrano olives, kalamata olives and melba toast. I love the variety of cheese flavors and textures, especially the barrata cheese with its firm outer coating and creamy center, but I was unsure for a moment of the meats offered. I was so happy to have tried them! None of the meats tasted gamy as I thought they might, and the rich flavors paired well with the cheese offered. The castelvetrano olives were another wonderful surprise. The olives are fairly dry and have a much sweeter flavor then expected; the olive taste is very mild.
We decided to also share a plate of their house-made meatballs that are lightly topped with house-made marinara made from Italian San Marzano tomatoes, fresh arugula, and fresh grated parmigiano reggiano. The juicy meatballs have a perfect blend of spices to create a savory bite with just a touch of heat and the fresh taste of the marinara and aruguala brought it together.
We also opted to share a few of their main menu pizzas, the margherita, the house pork sausage, and the greens.
The margherita pizza is made with fresh mozzarella, san marzano tomatoes and basil leaves then baked in the oven for 90-120 seconds until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust has a nice light char. The margherita pizza is one that I have found to be the most popular for those with a less extensive pallet. The simple ingredients are classic of an authentic Italian pizza.
The house pork sausage pizza, made with locally ground sausage and seasoned in-house, was delicious. You can easily taste the difference in fresh, not frozen sausage being used as the spices were not overpowering and did not distract from the flavors of the san marzano sauce and parmigiano reggiano cheese.
The greens pizza is a simple yet flavorful pizza that will send you soaring into spring time. It starts with a thin crust lightly chard, then smeared with pistaccio pesto, nicely dressed with fresh arugula and grated parmigiano reggiano then finished with a light drizzle of olive oil.
The evening was wonderful and full of laughs as we chatted with owner, Jesse, about his pizzeria. As we say, until next time, which won’t be long.
Open for lunch Friday and Saturday 11-2 and dinner Monday – Saturday 5-9pm. Live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, along with an open mic night every 2nd and 4th Wednesday.
125 1st St West, Mt Vernon