Hot Spot: VINeataly, Leeds

VINeataly is the new Italian oasis down on the canal at Granary Wharf in Leeds. A new waterside living development for Leeds, Granary Wharf compromises apartments, a Double Tree by Hilton hotel with SkyLounge, Brazilian gaucho restaurant Fazenda, authentic Japanese cuisine from Wasabi Teppan-Yaki, real ale pub with live music from The Hop and Out of the Woods coffee shop. The majority of the site is situated in a tunnel complex which is known as the Dark Arches, built in 1866 above the River Aire to house the new city train station. It’s a monumental feat of engineering… and very eerie!

Dark Arches photo by Colin Metcalf

VINeataly is the newest of these establishments, an Italian wine bar with a difference that opened in February this year. It is Leeds’ first “enoteca gastronmica,’ a concept that creates an approachable, relaxed and easy going atmosphere serving superb food and quick bites and nibbles. It’s a deli slash bar slash wine shop slash restaurant and being completely new to the area, you have to try it to understand what a unique place this really is.

VINeataly is located in the end arch facing out onto the central square of Granary Wharf over looked by Bridgewater Place over the canal and river junction. Its outdoor space is fantastic, a perfect Saturday afternoon spot! Slick and stylish black canvas barriers enclose the space sheltered with large cream parasols. The glass front follows suit with the other venues under the Dark Arches.

Upon entering VINeataly, a bright red Vespa invites you in along with a warm Italian welcome from our host for the afternoon, Alex. We ordered vanilla lattes at the counter and seated ourselves on wood and steel stools at a green legged high table by the door. Downstairs at VINeataly is split into a few different areas – a wall of fine Italian wines runs along the left hand wall separated by an extended bar with seating on both sides. The seating continues along the painted concrete and bare brick wall to the right adjacent to the open kitchen.

Sanded wooden floors run horizontally across the space and make you think of re-used wine barrels and rustic Italian vineyards. Industrial chairs provide seating at the lower tables and vary between uncoated and distressed white finishes and bottle green metal light shades are centered above each table. The interior design is the work of Lifeforms interior design agency based in Kent, developing a style that is natural and earthy but with a sophisticated edge. Touches, like a large rustic clock and menus in wooden clipboards, help push this earthen feel. Little things like free Wi-Fi also added to the authentic homely feel.

Facing out onto the seating is the brilliant open kitchen displaying a wonderful selection of meats, cheeses, deli paninis and pasta dishes, pizzas and Italian style nibbles – Stuzzichini. The bar forms part of the kitchen, being behind a backlit marble counter and lined with plenty of drinks choices on the bare brick wall.

After our first look around the space, we were well and truly ready to order and tuck into some authentic Italian delights!

Two paninis where ordered, a Rustico: slow roasted sucking pig with herbs & garlic, mustard and salad, and the Salame: Italian salame, smoked Caciotta cheese and mayonnaise both on the VINeataly bread. We also tried one of the Stuzzichini nibbles, the dry cured Tuscan ham with homemade focaccia bread.

Served on suitably rustic wooden boards, it was amazeballs! Like seriously good! There wasn’t a single morsel we didn’t like and when we couldn’t finish it all, it felt wrong to leave leftovers.

After lunch we checked out the produce of the Artisan Deli, located towards the back of the space selling cheese, charcuterie, squid ink pasta, sauces and truffle oil. Presented in stacked vintage food crates, the “Artisan by Diva” label has been running since 2007 as a side business to the Diva Italiana Bar & Trattoria in Pudsey, also by owner Mattia Boldetti.

‘Round the back of the kitchen a staircase leads to the upstairs space, opening out to a small second bar and a great feature wall surrounding a black Chesterfield style sofa and concealing the bathrooms. Covered in branding cut from wine pallets and crates it created a brilliant focal point to the dining space.

In contrast to downstairs, the majority of table legs up here where all white, but the industrial chairs continued. The floor was concrete but the rustic wood continued in the wall panels above the staircase. You could also get to see the great vaulted ceiling of the Dark Arches spanning the whole space. It felt much more industrial upstairs, what with the addition of the huge silver tubing of the kitchen below and the industrial styled metal light shades.

On arriving back downstairs, Alex was keen to show me what VINeataly really had to offer. The fantastic chefs had laid out a sample of their Stuzzichini including mozzarella pearls, pizza and olives. They also graciously presented a selection of VINeataly’s finest meats including dry cured ham and Porchetta.

VINeataly also sells fine wines by the bottle including its own white and red. The original and innovative addition of wine dispensers lets you try a wine before you buy a bottle and as members of The Association of Italian Wine Sommeliers, each wine is hand picked forming part of an extensive collection. The in-house sommelier is available to help you choose the right wine to suit your dishes.

VINeataly is an exceptionally unique venue, providing access to out-of-the-norm food and drink in a relaxed home-from-home setting. The ‘enoteca gastronimica’ concept currently rides the latest movements in social dining trends, with many consumers preferring a more authentic and relaxed feel to the traditionally structured ‘sit you down three course restaurant meal’. This modern dining experience offers a democratisation or rare and unusual food and wine, making it available and accessible to all. Being able to sample regional specialties is key to the success of this little slice of Italy in Leeds. VINeataly combines all this across two floors of comfortable, authentic surroundings with a warm staple Italian welcome that instantly makes you feel part of the family. Their informal approach to serving food in a traditional enoteca helps to keep the food prices sensibly low, adding to that homely feel.

After a truly enjoyable afternoon at VINeataly, I would certainly recommend this new venture to any visitor to Leeds with a love for all things Italian… Bellissimo!

Thanks to Anthony for this detailed review of the interior scheme and food & wine offered at VINeataly.  As always he’s put his photography skills to great use and produced wonderful montages for us all to enjoy.  Nice work Mr H!  This is the first in a series of Hot Spot posts by Anthony for Scarlet Opus and we look forward to his next Hot Spot review (which he’ll be photographing during London Design Festival in September).

You can keep up-to-date on VINeataly’s latest special offers and deals via their tweets: @VINeataly Or via their website: www.vineataly.com

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