The Spot: Il Vinaio
270 West Main Street, Mesa
The Hours: Il Vinaio's happy hour is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day
Perfect for: A long, leisurely happy hour over wine or a quick cheap bite before an event at the Mesa Arts Center
The Interior: Inside, Il Vinaio is simple and gorgeous, with wide, open space. If you're lucky, one of the restaurant's cushy booths will be open — it was pretty quiet when we came in on a Thursday afternoon. Simple details including yellow stained-glass windows and ornate chandeliers add to the bright ambiance at the restaurant.
The Food: Il Vinaio offers a long list of appetizers for $5, from the hummus plate to a roasted veggie flatbread. The happy-hour menu does offer some Italian dishes, but is a little more generic than the more Italian-focused dinner menu.
We started off with the bruschetta ($5), which came with three slices of garlic bread piled high with juicy diced tomatoes, Parmesan, and chopped basil. The bread definitely came with a solid punch of garlic taste, but was also very oily. Still, we enjoyed the substantial snack.
Unfortunately, Il Vinaio's shrimp shooter ($5), which came with three shrimp in a shot glass of spicy bloody mary mix, did not stack up. The shrimp tasted chewy, never a good sign when it comes to seafood. And the bloody mary-like concoction inside the glass was just okay, though it did offer a nice spicy kick.
The Drink: The restaurant's drink specials during happy hour apply only to beer and wine, with $1 off beer and $2 off glasses of wine. The user-friendly wine list is divided into white wines, red wines, and bubbly wines, including vino from Italy, California, and France. All in all, the wine list offers a nice range of options. Glasses of wine during happy hour will cost you around $6 to $8.
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Beer (all bottled) is definitely the more price-friendly option during happy hour, and there's some variety, with options for those who like sweeter brews, including raspberry cider ($3.50). We went for a simple Stella Artois ($3.50) and appreciated Il Vinaio's presentation — as in, the waiter poured the bottle into a chilled glass in front of us.
Conclusion: Il Vinaio is a nice, even romantic, spot on Main Street in Mesa, right off the light-rail stop. We were able to get two decently-sized dishes and a beer for under $15, which is respectable pricing for happy hour. The food didn't exactly knock our socks off, but we'd return to try some of the other happy hour dishes, such as the restaurant's Sriracha deviled eggs.
Don't Miss: The bright, breezy ambiance Il Vinaio offers, perfect for a long afternoon with a glass of wine by your side.
Skip This: The pseudo-shrimp cocktail with not-so-impressive shrimp.