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Posted at 6:39 PM ET, 12/ 1/2008

Zola's 'Sister' Debuts

By Tom Sietsema

A Two-in-One-Package: With the launch of Zola Wine & Kitchen, Penn Quarter gains a trendy new place to buy wine, and the executive chef of the related Zola restaurant around the corner gets a place to test recipes and teach cooking classes.

Dan Mesches, president of Star Restaurant Group, says the latest addition to his company is a way to "take some of the mystery out" of the wine buying experience. Wines suitable for, say, Asian meals or Christmas celebrations are displayed beneath one of four monitors depicting those themes. The 1,700-square-foot wine shop, dressed with white oak floors and a handful of stools, lounging cubes and a couch, is as cozy as they come. Think Starbucks, but sleeker and with more buzz: About 400 different labels, representing a world of finds, fill the racks.

The second part of the equation, the test kitchen, is visible from two large "spy holes" that punctuate one wall of wine. Mesches says the room, which can hold 30 people for a sit-down occasion or 50 for cocktails, will also be used for guest chef events and private parties.

"Zola's younger sister," as Mesches calls it, should come in handy when he and chef Bryan Moscatello prepare to open the company's next business, a yet-to-be-named Italian restaurant, in mid-February.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | December 1, 2008; 6:39 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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