“We are incredibly passionate about this business,” says Anthony Vai, who, with his father, Michael, and their chef and partner Brian Goewey, just opened flour + wine for dinners in downtown Glen Ellyn.
Goewey, who’s gained a following from stints at notable restaurants, is rekindling an early dream in his career, when he trained under famed chef Wolfgang Puck at one of his wood-fired pizza kitchens.
“He just fell in love with that style of cooking,” Anthony says. “Since then, he’s always wanted to get back to that. When he had this opportunity, he jumped on it.”
The partners have extensive background in the restaurant business, from intimate establishments to stadium operations.
Both Goewey and Anthony recently completed training in California on how to perfect Neapolitan pizza-making, moving beyond playing with fire to working the special grade flour that’s key.
“The finished product is absolutely phenomenal,” Anthony says. “A light airy crust with a little more of a doughiness to the center. We make our dough here. We also make our own mozzarella. Chef stretches it by hand daily. We like to do a lot of things in-house.”
Whether it’s the pizza or pasta dishes, small plates meant to be shared, salads or desserts, Anthony says the key is fresh, well-balanced flavors.
“We sourced the best vendors,” Anthony says. “Our prosciutto is imported from Parma, Italy — aged 18 months to be soft and tender with a nice, slight saltiness (and) delicate texture.”
It’s served with mozzarella and mixed greens tossed in light limonette on crostini, he says, noting a personal favorite is the rock shrimp and crab fritter.
“Rock shrimp is smaller, but sweeter,” he says. “We use lump crab meat, and we pan sear them and finish them in the oven, as opposed to deep-frying.”
At the bar, juices are squeezed by hand, and cocktails include Margaritas made with muddled watermelon. Craft beers have been selected from around the country, but a prime focus remains wine.
“We searched long and hard (for) interesting wines that people aren’t going to find a lot of places,” he says. “Being the guide to (a) great experience is what we want to be. To give you an evening out, so you enjoy and relax (with) great food and wine. It’s a simple formula, but it’s a lot harder to practice than to preach. We’ve got a lot of practice in it….more