Shortly after his Bridge Ten Brasserie shuttered in February, Dave DeSimone decided to follow T.H. Palmer's famed advice: "'Tis a lesson you should heed / if at first you don't succeed / try, try again."
DeSimone's new space — Open Bottle Bistro on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside — is a much cozier interpretation of a French-style restaurant than Bridge Ten's South Side space. "It's a little more casual, like you might find in a wine bar in Paris or Madrid or Rome," says DeSimone. "We don't have white tablecloths."
A big draw of Open Bottle Bistro is the highly curated wine list, with every bottle selected by DeSimone. He's a credible guide, too: DeSimone's weekly wine column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has been a source of local wine knowledge for more than 20 years.
DeSimone says customers can expect a rotating list of about 15 reds and 15 whites. He says that he favors wines that are either un- or lightly oaked, which lets the true expression of the grapes shine through. In line with the vibe of the restaurant, the selections tip quite heavily toward France — DeSimone's area of expertise — but also branch out to Italy, Spain, Austria and Australia.
"It's fun for me to dig out wines that you're not going to find at other places," he says.
The wines are organized into categories like "Robust, Dark Fruit" and "Elegant and Refreshing." However, DeSimone says he also plans on being on hand to help steer people in the right direction. "I love talking about wines," he says.
Although the wine is the prime focus of the drinks list, DiSimone also retained John White, a single-malt expert I wrote about in January, to enlighten customers on the finer points of brown spirits.
DeSimone says that his plan for his new venture is pretty straightforward: "We're going to offer people great wine, great food and great service — and hope they'll want to come back."