Half price bottles on Tuesday nights: It was a happy surprise when we picked up the wine list at Mille Lire and general manager Roger Bissell told us the good news. Bissell has put together a list of temptations beyond my budget at the Uptown Italian restaurant, but on a Tuesday, it was go time for the 2012 Fattoi & Figli Brunello di Montalcino, now $48.50 instead of $99.
It made a soft, supple partner to the bold flavor of lamb meatballs ($14) and gnocchetti sardi ($23). And it got me thinking about other restaurants that quietly offer deals on wine — the places where you can dine well and, if you're smart about it, enjoy a splurgy drink from an interesting list.
There's Al Biernat's, the Highland Park power-player steak house, where wine deals are an off-the-menu thing: Ask your server about the "featured bottles" any night of the week, and you'll hear about big names at almost retail prices (which doesn't mean they're cheap). At the moment, for instance, 2015 ZD Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is $75 instead of $120 on the list.
Just across the street, bottles are half price on Mondays at Carbone's, Julian Barsotti's ode to red-sauce Italian cooking. The regional Italian list is mostly under $100, so you can snag gems like the 2013 Querciabella Mongrana for $28.50 instead of $57, which I did late last year. Half of Highland Park seems in on the deal and you can't make a reservation for less than six; go at lunch or after 8 p.m. to avoid a wait.
It's a strange fact of life that Texas wines are almost impossible to find on Dallas lists. Not so at Billy Can Can, Victory Park's modern Texas canteen, where Matt Ford's menu is matched with bottles from some of the state's best winemakers. Have supper early, 5 to 7 p.m., on a weekday, and you'll find a classy version of happy hour, where Texas wines by the glass or by the bottle (and Texas beer, and some Texas spirits) are half price. That means $4.50 for a glass of 2015 Hilmy Cellars Chenin Blanc, or a bottle of 2016 Tempranillo from the lauded McPherson Cellars for $18 instead of $36.
At another modern Texas restaurant, CBD Provisions in the Joule downtown, bottles from the regular wine list are half price on Sunday nights, and that includes the 2017 Grower Project Trebbiano from the Texas High Plains for $30 instead of $60, along with other adventurous bottles from California, Oregon and France, such as Fausse Piste Fish Sauce Muscat Blanc Pet Nat from Willamette Valley for $35 instead of $70.
Finally, it may not be wine, but if you're into sake cocktails you can dip into Nori Handroll Bar in Deep Ellum on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night and have them for half price, including a snack. That's $5 for a Tokyo Mule, with sake, ginger beer, cucumber and lime, or an Elderflower Sake Tonic, plus a nibble such as shishito peppers, edamame or squid salad from chef Jimmy Park.