Lento, Village Gate, Rochester

Since moving back to Rochester over the summer, I’ve been trying to taste my way through the different restaurants and bars in the city. This, it turns out, is a daunting challenge. It appears that during my ten-year absence, Rochester has exploded with dozens of restaurants, many of which use local ingredients, have interesting menus, and provide intriguing wine lists. With an empty stomach and open mind, we set our sights on Lento.

About Lento

Lento is an upscale casual, restaurant, located in Village Gate in the Neighborhood of the Arts. It has a strong focus on local and seasonal food, which is reinforced by a large chalkboard sign listing all their local partners that greets you as you enter. The menu, designed by Executive Chef and Owner Arthur Rogers, ranges from $8-15 for starters and salads, to $15-30 for main courses. The dining spaces are split into a more formal restaurant and more casual bar area, the latter of which I highly suggest because it has a great busy feel and gives you a a center stage view of the oyster prep area… yum, oysters.

Forge Cellars Dry Riesling and Oysters!
Forge Cellars Dry Riesling and Oysters!

We decided on Lento after hearing about their oysters- I can’t resist a good oyster, their pearlescent shine beckons me to partake in their fruit. It’s like taking a shot of fresh salt water, and being rewarded with a meaty, briny treat. We ended up starting the night with a dozen oysters, six Cupids Choice from Prince Edward Island, and six Tatamagouche from Nova Scotia.

Lento Wine List

What really impressed me about Lento was the fantastic, locally sourced wine list. Lento has a surprisingly great selection of Finger Lakes wine to pick from, including some of the newer and less well known vineyards. Its fairly normal now to see restaurants carry a Riesling from Dr. Frank’s or Salmon Run, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a range of white and rosé wines by the glass from New York.

Sadly, if you want a local red wine, you’ll need to order a whole bottle (or should you be happy because you’ll get a full bottle?). That being said, they have an impressive list of Finger Lakes bottles, including such wineries as Red Tail Ridge, Heart & Hands, Hermann J. Wiemer, Ravines, Element, Forge Cellars, Standing Stone, and more.

What truly made this experience was our waiter, Abby. Selecting a wine from a restaurant menu can be tricky if you’re not sure what each wine actually tastes like. For wines available by the glass, Abby was more than happy to provide us with a few samples of the different wines so that we could make an informed decision. Of these, I had recently had the Forge Cellars Rosé (made from Pinot Noir- nose of strawberry, red plum and balanced acidity) and the Weimer Chardonnay (buttery, apples, pear and great acidity). I sampled the Suhru Pinot Grigio (crisp lemon and lime, hint of grapefruit) and Forge Cellars Dry Riesling.

For dinner, I ended up selected the Forge Cellars Dry Riesling Classique 2013, which paired perfectly with the seafood starters and the lobster salad I had for dinner. The wine smelled of lime, white peach, and stone, which was balanced out by a higher acidity and minerality.

Local Wine Overview

Finger Lakes Wine: Yes!

  • White and rosé wines by glass
  • Red, rosé and white by the bottle

Price Range: $8-10

Range of Local Wines by the Glass: Nice range of dry and semi-dry wines, including Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir rosé

Wine Knowledge: Yes! Our waiter wasn’t a sommelier, but was quite knowledgeable about the different wines. She shared some observations about the wines without adding personal judgement, and we when asked to taste the wine she brought other options. Love that!

Want to learn more about the wines? Doug Hillstrom has a full review of each of these wines:

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