Walk into Wilton Manor’s Naked Grape and wait for your eyes to adjust. The dimly lit, cozy atmosphere has soft café-esque music in the background with friends and couples huddled intimately at tables. Two older women smile over yellow white wine and a cheese plate while men at the bar laugh a bit too loud, reminiscent of someone who has drank a little too much. But in a good way, of course.
“Every wine bar or cheese restaurant has to have its own identity,” said Naked Grape Chef Caleb Ben-Avram, slicing cheese in an intricate, precise manner. I just asked him what makes his bar stand out over everyone else’s. “The cheese is high quality. Everything is house made. I don’t buy anything premade.”
There is no TV or Wi-Fi at Naked Grape.
“Our attitude here is, ‘talk to each other,’” smiled Ben-Avram, his eyes crinkly kindly in the corners. The Naked Grape is the antitheses of a noisy sports bar, filled with millennials taking “one more” picture, only to snap at least 8 more.
Ben-Avram is a unique chef. He colored hair for 25 years, and after moving to South Florida from Ohio, he decided to run his own show as a chef. The culinary research he has done include Google searches and classes, such as certifications he is getting through the American Cheese Society.
His recipes are just as simple: Some he created, and some are adapted and tweaked to his liking. His motto is, “Can I do this with the resources I have?”
Judging by the flow of smiling customers and the positivity radiating from the restaurant, he certainly has succeded.
Spanish Chorizo Braised in Tempranillo $10
This is a popular Spanish tapa that is made with fresh Spanish chorizo seasoned with smoked paprika and other seasonings, then braised in Tempranillo wine and topped with Marcona almonds and shredded Manchego cheese. (Image: Flickr user Jules)