Unwine’d is a new wine bar bringing the downtown vibe to West Portal

The owners of Unwine’d hope to bring the energy of a downtown wine bar to what they call the city’s most “neighbourhood-y” neighborhood, West Portal.

“Here at West Portal, everyone knows each other. We all went to school together,” said co-owner Dino Lettieri, whose father owned a sandwich shop here, called Mr. Submarine, when Lettieri was a child. He and co-owner John Loufas, a longtime West Portal restaurateur, hope Unwine’d can become a new gathering place for the West Portal community.

The salon quietly opened this week at 9 West Portal Ave. It replaces another wine bar, Vin Debut, which closed during the pandemic. Lettieri and Loufas kept the bones of the space but made significant updates, including painting the walls a deep shade of blue and adding shimmering chandeliers throughout. A back room, which was used for private events in the previous version of the bar, has been opened up for regular seating, with banquettes and leather sofas.

Until recently, Loufas was the owner of Orexi, a beloved Greek restaurant in the area which closed this winter after 10 years in West Portal. He and Lettieri got to know each other because Orexi purchased products like olive oil, cured meats and vinegars from the specialty food import business that Lettieri ran.

Unwine’d draws on the previous professional experiences of both owners. Many of Lettieri’s Italian, Spanish and French imports will feature on the menu, while Loufas has brought some of Orexi fan favorites like grilled octopus, baked tiger prawns and spanakopita.

Snacks, not entrees, will be available (the kitchen is limited by its equipment), although there are hearty pinas – the pizza-like flatbreads whose dough is made from rice and soy flour. Chef Armando Marroquin, who also worked at Orexi, is in charge of the kitchen.

The wine selection, overseen by Loufas’ daughter, Katerina Loufas, is pan-Mediterranean, with plenty of wines from Italy, France, Spain, and Greece, as well as wines from California.

The owners are still working on the final touches, such as putting up a sign. No details yet, but the team plans to offer specials like $2 oysters and discounted glasses of champagne, designed to attract the after-work crowd landing at the West Portal Muni station, a block away. of houses. In addition to a menu by the glass that aims to be accessible, the owners also plan to offer more expensive bottles for special occasions, such as Dom Pérignon champagne and Opus One.

Eventually, they hope to add outdoor seating along West Portal Avenue. There’s a DJ booth in the back room, and they might have karaoke nights here at some point. They would like to incorporate a daytime element with espresso and lunch.

But they feel relaxed about the trajectory of the business, just as the name of the bar suggests. Primarily, the owners said they were excited to add a new destination to the community they love. “We like to say that West Portal is the last neighborhood standing in San Francisco,” Loufas said. “That has changed very little over the years.”

Without wine. Open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday and from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. from Friday to Saturday. 9 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco. Instagram.com/unwinedsf

Esther Mobley is the principal wine critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @Esther_mobley

David H. Henry