The chill of a recent Saturday afternoon sparked the idea of finding a restaurant with wood-fired pizza and a relaxed, romantic setting in which to enjoy it. But Neapolitan pizza turns out to be only part of the attraction at flour + wine in Glen Ellyn, where the rest of the menu is as inventive as its take on the Italian classic.
Our server delivered a carafe of water to our candlelit table and went over specials, which included a ricotta and honeycomb appetizer, which he described as a sweet bruschetta that could also pinch hit as dessert.
Keeping it in the back of our minds for later in the meal, we opted to open with the house salad, and never expected the wow factor. Sublimely fresh, the organic butter lettuce turned up pretty as a picture with ribbons of fennel, toasted candied pecans, Gorgonzola and a delicate house vinaigrette.
My dining partner picked the hanger steak accompanied by shallots, tomatoes, fennel, arugula, fingerling potatoes and citrus chimichurri. Cooked medium rare, it was flavorful and delectable, but we will order it medium next time.
With the word flour in the name of the restaurant, it was a welcome surprise to see gluten-free pizza crust and pasta as options. It was especially nice to hear the pizza would still be cooked in the wood-burning oven tucked inside the kitchen — a rare treat for the gluten-intolerant among us.
I ordered the “local sausage and raisins” pizza. Not only was the crust a far cry from often cardboard-like substitutes, but it was crispy from the hot oven with great texture that left you feeling anything but deprived. The high heat had caramelized the golden raisins to a succulent sweetness, a perfect complement to the tasty crumbled sausage paired with toppings of fennel, Romano, mozzarella and sesame seeds.
Curious to know if the sausage were available in the area, we learned from our server that it's made at a farm in Bartlett. The restaurant accepts orders from folks who'd like to purchase the bulk sausage to use at home. Yes, it's that good, and part of the eatery's mantra of buying local and serving the freshest of ingredients.
In addition to fresh-pressed cocktails, the bar features a thoughtful array of wines, as well as craft beers, including eight on tap. Flights are not available, but the bartender is happy to let people sample before they order.
We didn't leave enough room for the ricotta with local honeycomb, and when we asked when the special might be back, the server noted the owners are planning visits to both coasts to pick up new flavor trends for their ever-evolving menu.
Featured currently are substantial "small plates" meant for sharing, such as rock shrimp and crab fritters; burrata bruschetta, and meatball sliders, plus pastas and risotto. Salad lovers have such choices as grilled romaine with leeks and pancetta, or Scottish salmon with pears and fire-roasted grapes. The kids menu ranges from cheese pizza to salmon and filet.
As for the ambiance, brick walls and wood lend character to the two-level dining room off the wine bar. Flickering candles on tables and in wall cabinets add warm visuals to the inviting space, and are a subtle nod to the artistry a skilled chef can achieve with a little heat in the kitchen.
flour + wine
Address: 433 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn
Contact: Flourandwine.net, 630-793-9955
Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to midnight Friday; 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday; and 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday
Dress code: Casual
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.