They’re a sixteenth-of-an-inch thick, crisp (but chewy when you hit a raisin), and sweetly musky from rosemary. The crackers in the bread basket at Terzo are the things we think of first when planning a visit to the South Minneapolis restaurant. The biscottilike crisps go well with wine, cheese, and salumi, and can even stand in for dessert.
They were discovered by Danny Broder — a second-generation member of the family whose restaurants and deli dominate the intersection of Penn and 50th — when he was in northern Italy studying culinary arts and getting experience in restaurant kitchens. The crackers were served at a restaurant he worked at in Piedmont, and he adapted the recipe for Terzo.
The crisps wouldn’t be the same without the assistance of a large, fire-engine-red, hand-cranked prosciutto slicer like the one Broder saw on his trip. The family decided to order their own for Terzo’s kitchen. The thing is sharp and accurate, and in addition to serving its intended role, it slices the baked, raisin-filled loaves into prosciutto-thin crackers that go back to the oven for a final baking on their way to Terzo’s bread basket.
Sometimes it seems that bread service is fading into history, perhaps as a result of the gluten-free trend compounded by the tough economics of running a restaurant. Where bread is offered, it often comprises a few small slices served after the order is taken and quickly removed when the food arrives. But some establishments — Restaurant Alma and Lucia’s (photo below) come to mind, along with Terzo — are offering a creative assortment of house-made breads. We’ve seen this more often in the Bay Area, where it also appears that restaurants are competing to serve the best house-made butter as an accompaniment.
There’s much excellent bread to be found at local bakeries — Patisserie 46, Rustica, Aki’s, Baker’s Field, to name a few — and their breads are served at restaurants around town (when bread is served), but few restaurants make their own, and this leads to a certain predictability.
We usually don’t eat bread with our dinners at home, but one of the pleasures of dining out is biting into a fresh, wheaty slice with just the right amount of cultured butter, and maybe a grain or two of excellent salt. So we’re hoping that the bread (and cracker) basket has a long, yeasty life.
Terzo, 2221 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55419; 612.925.0330
If there’s one people on Earth whose identity is bottled in its wine, it’s the Italians. Their wine is proud, resilient, and intense. You can taste the soil of Montalcino in its sangiovese, or the salty Tyrrhenian Sea in a good verdicchio. It’s no surprise, then, that their beer culture is a little behind the times.
But look past the waterlogged Peroni and the indifferent husk of Birra Moretti: You’ll find that Italian craft beer is gaining momentum. And a few of these brews have found their way to Terzo Vino Bar. Besides an astonishingly comprehensive list of Italian wine, Charlie Broder (above) is curating a nice selection of local beer — Pryes, Fair State, and Tin Whiskers among them. On your next visit, though, make sure to taste his new-age crafts from the old country.
“Wine is my deal,” Charlie admits. “So, I’ve been focusing on beer that’s clean and balanced, and what fits as a style for us. But I want a broad spectrum of things.” The three Italian beers he had on recently were distinctly flavored and memorable introductions to that country’s crafts.
La Luna Rossa
Birrificio del Ducato
Wild ale, 8 percent ABV
La Luna Rossa ferments for two years with acetic and lactic bacteria along with Brettanomyces yeast. A portion of the brew ages on cherries for at least six months before being blended with younger beers and conditioned for another year. The result lands somewhere between a kriek lambic and a gueuze. Salty, yeasty and lactic flavors tug your tastebuds before fruit and malt lift the sip back into balance.
“We’ll always have a sour on now; it’s something I’ve wanted to do since we opened,” Charlie says. “La Luna Rossa is seriously sour, but when your palate acclimatizes to it, it’s amazing. It’s great with salty meats and hard cheeses.”
This stuff is wine masquerading as beer. A deep burgundy color pools in the center of the glass, fading to brown and clear on the rim like the shades of an old Barolo. It’s nuanced, delicate and unexpected, an Italian beer with a Belgian persuasion. The flavor recalls a nice Flanders red ale and is priced accordingly ($12), around what you’d expect to pay for a pour of Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge or Rodenbach Grand Cru. And since the beer is made just northwest of Parma, it’s no wonder how well it pairs with a plate of prosciutto.
Birra del Borgo
Pale ale, 6.2 percent ABV
ReALE EXTRA is an ultra-hopped pale ale. A bunch of late-addition hops give it a floral explosion over sweet, mellow flavors of biscuits and caramel from the malt. It’s from Lazio, Rome’s province, a region not exactly renowned for its beverages. “It’s so bizarre and so great,” Charlie says. “It’s like an Italian expression of American beer. But what they have access to in malts and hops is different than what we have. It’s European in style, but it’s big and structured.” We happened to kill the last of a keg during our visit. But Charlie has more in reserve, along with a keg of My Antonia, a collaboration between Birra del Borgo and Dogfish Head.
Amber ale, 7 percent ABV
Amber Shock is not much of a shock; it’s soft and toasty with a pleasant hazelnut aroma. Pair with a salumi plate and the lamb meatballs.
The story is all too familiar: owner of successful restaurant (or coffee shop, bar, food truck…) rushes to expand and diversify, and the new ventures don’t measure up to the original. Thankfully, the opposite is increasingly familiar, at least here in the Twin Cities: restaurateur branches out and the accolades and loyal patrons keep rolling in. Such local wizards include Isaac Becker (Burch, 112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa), Alex Roberts (Alma, Brasa), Russell and Desta Klein (Meritage, Brasserie Zentral), and Sameh Wadi (Saffron, World Street Kitchen restaurant and food truck). With their collection of excellent Italian establishments on the corner of W. 50th Street and Penn in Southwest Minneapolis, Molly Broder and her three sons also belong on this list. Their new porchetteria is further evidence of the family’s golden touch.
From a window cutout of Broder’s wonderful wine bar, Terzo, the family is slinging rich, succulent slow-roasted pork (that is, porchetta) sandwiches from 11am to 5pm daily. If you’re into tailgating, there are six large plastic chairs (but only one large umbrella) for chowing down right there in the parking lot. You can also, like us, lunch on the patio of Broders’ Pasta Bar, which offers plentiful shade, tables, and comfy chairs. It’s a great space for an impromptu picnic.
The porchetta sandwiches showcase high-quality, sustainable Fresh Air Pork from Grass Run Farms in Iowa, roasted to perfection and chock-full of wonderful porky flavor. All four options (three pork and one vegetarian) are served on chewy, grilled ciabatta that manages to be sturdy but not tough. Our favorite sandwich, The Rapini, includes garlic paisley aioli and stalks and leaves from the eponymous vegetable ($9). The refreshing rapini adds pleasant tang and crunch that cuts the richness of the pork and aioli.
A combination of porchetta, radicchio and currant slaw, and Calabrian pepper aioli, The Calabrian ($9) is well balanced (with spice from the peppers playing off sweet from the currants) and super flavorful. The tasty truffle mushroom and porchetta ($10) delivers an awesome umami uppercut. But lacking rapini, slaw, or some other fresh element (maybe arugula?), the fungi and pork option teeters on the edge of over-indulgence. Speaking of which, lest we forget: house-made potato chips ($2) are exquisitely fried and salted. They’re absolutely worth the added cost.
Porchetteria at Terzo Vino Bar
Takeaway Sandwiches in Southwest Minneapolis
2221 W 50th St
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Daily 11am-5pm CHEF / OWNER: Thomas Broder / Molly Broder BAR: No VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No ENTREE PRICE: $9-10
Broders’ Pasta Bar (along with its deli across the street) in Southwest Minneapolis is a well-oiled machine that serves up high-quality, reasonably priced pasta dishes that keep the crowds coming back. So, we were optimistic that Terzo, the Broder family’s new wine bar, wouldn’t disappoint. And it sure didn’t. Open just a few weeks, the family’s third venture is already firing on all cylinders and will likely steal clientele from its popular sibling across the street. Or, more likely, it will just draw more people to the corner of 50th and Penn to sate cravings for Italy’s finest.
The Broders completely renovated the space formerly occupied by Pierre’s Bistro to create a simultaneously cosmopolitan and rustic environment with Terzo (named, we were told, both because it’s the third of their outposts and for the three Broder sons). Casual observers will enjoy the thoughtful and comfortable decor, which allows a view of the gleaming charcuterie station, the long bar, and a wine cellar with beautiful doors made of salvaged wood, but true oenophiles are sure to have the creeping sensation that they are surrounded by referential items. That gorgeous driftwood on the wall is, upon closer inspection, dried grapevines. The delicate light fixtures and metal orbs hanging from the ceiling are, naturally, wine decanters and barrel ties. Water glasses at the table are wine bottles, lopped off to serve a new purpose. Like the last scene of The Usual Suspects, all the pieces seem to fall into place at once. When you start looking, it’s all wine.
Indeed, the wine program is as distinctive as the decor. General Manager Charlie Broder (above) curates the entirely Italian bottle list. Like Terzo’s menu and overall vibe, the list slants heavily toward Northern Italy. Over 40 Barolos and 17 Barberas from Piedmont make up a solid chunk of the couple-100-label strong cellar. There are plenty of super-Tuscans and Brunellos, as well as several French grape blends for those who prefer the comfort of a Cabernet. Still, we’d advise letting Terzo’s well-trained staff introduce you to some of the lesser-known grape varieties that have made Italy such a unique patchwork of regional winemaking.
Along with the bottles, Terzo features over 50 wines by the glass, nearly twice as many as some other very good wine bars in Minneapolis. They’re mostly in the $8-12 range, with a few good values on offer. All wines by the glass can also be purchased in a half-bottle carafe or a half-glass pour if you want to sample more widely. We loved the Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno ($6), a fruity red Tuscan blend that’s perfect for charcuterie sampling; the 2011 Lugana Ca’ Lojera ($9), a spectacularly easy sip full of tropical fruits; and the brilliant Inama Soave Classico ($15) that lately has people talking.
While less expansive than the wine list, Terzo’s menu is impressive nonetheless. Along with a revolving lineup of top-flight cheeses and cured meats, there are several bruschetta, vegetable, and seafood sides, and six entree-sized selections to choose from. Chef Thomas Broder’s refreshingly unfussy dishes feature exceptional ingredients in simple yet proficient preparations. Take, for example, herbed goat cheese stuffed Calabrian peppers ($5). Spicy, slightly sweet, fire-engine red peppers are sliced open, seeded, and filled with creamy chevre. Thin ribbons of celery add freshness and reduced balsamic vinegar brings richness. It’s a delicious, attractive snack.
Several other antipasti were very good and, with minor tweaks, would be great. Fried baby artichokes ($9) served with lemon aioli, almond, and mint, were golden brown, slightly crispy (unctuous but not oily), and delectable. We could’ve popped at least a dozen of these suckers — especially if they came with a few lemon wedges (although there’s lemon in the aioli, we pined to squeeze some actual juice over the dish). A chilled seafood salad with fennel ($10) was refreshing, but, like the chokes, needed more acid to brighten it up, and a couple scallops needed a little less cooking. Pistachio-crusted frog legs ($5) were tasty, but the nutty coating threatened to overpower the succulent meat.
The main dish we sampled, the pecorino flan ($15), left us panting for more. The flan was lighter than its namesake: Nearly a souffle, it was sturdy on the outside but all savory custard inside. It was served with a fava bean puree, perfectly cooked fava beans (firm enough to still be an assertive vegetable next to the creamy flan), roasted morel mushrooms, pickled red onion, and tiny cubes of pecorino, softened amidst the warm veggies. Rather than feeling like a collection of side dishes, as so many vegetarian entrees do, this was a balanced, carefully constructed dish, both gorgeous and satisfying.
For dessert, Terzo adds its own twists to familiar dishes. We loved the ricotta panna cotta ($8), in which the cheese transforms the vanilla bean custard just enough to distinguish this take from others served around town. Macerated strawberries, crisp rhubarb, mint, and sour lime sorbet added a jolt to the comfort of a brilliant panna cotta, making this a winning summer dessert. Although we enjoyed the affogato ($6) — Bull Run espresso poured over vanilla gelato — the proportions were a bit off; a woefully small scoop of gelato quickly melted into a double shot of espresso, leaving us with a glass of sweet coffee soup.
Only rarely does a restaurant shine in all departments — food and drink, service, and atmosphere — so quickly. The Broder family’s attention to detail and commitment to quality are inspiring, sure to keep destination diners and neighborhood regulars queuing up for years to come. If there’s a downside to Terzo, it’s that a tab can run up quickly if you keep the wine flowing and make a meal of the small plates. But, in the end, it’s well worth the expense.
Terzo Vino Bar Rating: (Excellent) Wine Bar and Small Plates in Southwest Minneapolis
2221 W 50th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55419
Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu: 5pm-11pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-midnight CHEF / OWNER: Thomas Broder / Molly Broder RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No BAR: Wine and Beer VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited ENTREE PRICE: $5-18