CIOCCOLATA DI VINO
1801 Shattuck Avenue, Suite C
Berkeley, CA 94709
Open just a few months now, I’ve been eager to try this dessert-focused spot, ever wishing there were more options for post-dinner imbibements. Berkeley’s Cioccolata di Vino does have a Savory antipasti menu with some pleasing-looking Italian plates, but I’m not going for that… I want the namesake chocolate and wine experience.
Candlelit, playing a mixture of classic jazz (Ella, my Ella!), world music and even oldies, the space is soothing immediately, as are the sweet servers, if not exactly the occasional large groups that pass through (I was given the option to move if the large group was too noisy). But most moments were quiet, and to while a couple hours with a close friend in deep conversation over vino, dessert, candlelight and jazz, is magic.
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Equally squeal-inducing, the hot chocolate, of which I am a picky customer (MUST be dark, rich, not watered-down in any way), did not disappointment. I was particularly warmed by the Cinnamon and Spice ($3.50) version (there’s also a Sweet Vanilla, Hot Cha Chai, and straight up Cioccolato Caldo). Thankfully not sweet, it’s rich without being heavy and appropriately spiced. Ooh, la la.
And what about vino? In a thoughtful, reasonably-priced selection of bubbly, whites, reds, and what they call “stickies”, basically dessert wine, I find the 2006 Orange Muscat from Margaret’s Vineyard/ Robert Hall, Paso Robles ($5 glass/$42.75 bottle) is one you can’t go wrong pairing with chocolate. Clear and light, there’s spice on the nose and hints of orange blossom and tropical fruit to taste.
Best of all was the White Port from Bodega Bay Port Works, Kenwood ($8 glass/$48 bottle), a late harvest Chardonnay that hints of honey on the nose but has such strong, nutty flavors that send me into ecstasy when sipped along with the Torta al Cioccolato.
Good news: it’s open all day (from 11am on) so you can come in for hot chocolate and pastries, blissfully securing a buzz from chocolate instead of coffee.