Corked Wine Bar & Steak House

Corked Wine Bar & Steak House
By Cathy Kiley

There is a new star on the rise in downtown Bethlehem and it promises to shine for a long time. Chef-Owner Giuseppe “Joe” Grisafi has taken his vision to a new level with the opening of Corked Wine Bar and Steak House at 515 Main Street. Having honed his culinary skills at his and co-owner father Nicolo’s Roma Ristorante and Taste of Italy both off Catasauqua Road, the Grisafis have brought a unique and exciting buzz to Bethlehem’s Restaurant Row.


We were impressed with Corked from the minute we entered. The atmosphere is electric. Corked’s bar was chock-a-block with an eclectic mix of smartly dressed post work revelers and partyers starting off the night in this interesting new place. My husband Tom and I made our way passed the more intimate cafe lounge and found a spot at the bar where Corrine mixed an icy Cosmo for me and a perfect Manhattan for Tom. Corked Wine Bar is anything but routine. The Grisafis have transformed the long-vacant Morning Call building into a metro mecca of unique style and fun while, at the same time, creating a steakhouse with a Lehigh Valley feel and an attitude all its own. Oh, and we’ve yet to talk about the food!


We were shown to a comfortable blue leather banquette in the dining room by hostess Kali. David, our professional and charming server, arrived to explain the menu that specializes in Pat La Frieda Steaks and meats (renowned third-generation, family owned meat purveyors established 91 years ago in Brooklyn, N.Y.). Steak offerings included four and eight ounce Filet Mignon as well as a 14 ounce Ribeye; 12 ounce New York Strip and a 24 ounce 40-Day Aged Prime Tomahawk Ribeye all prepared to order and served with a choice of toppings and sides. Also available were all natural Amish Veal Chops and Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. There are numerous selections other than steak including Rosemary Herb Chicken with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies; Twin Pan-seared twin Lobster Tails with fingerling potatoes, roasted corn coulis and garlic butter; House Smoked Scottish Salmon with creamed spinach, saffron rice and olive tapenade to name a few. Interesting pasta options are also available and all entrees are served with house bread and an American Wedge salad.


For appetizers, Tom ordered Oyster Shooters and I the Potato Leek Soup both of which were specials for the evening. My soup was rich and creamy and served piping hot. A bit of Napa Cabbage added a different spin on a traditional soup recipe and, together with the freshly baked bread David delivered to our table, this was a terrific starter. Tom’s four very fresh, succulent oysters were served shooter-style on a wooden serving board in individual glasses with peppered vodka, a wedge of lemon and Tabasco. Tom loved them.


Other interesting appetizer choices on the menu that night included a Meat and Cheese Board; Shrimp Limoncello; Prawn Cocktail; Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Dijon Mustard Sauce and Smoked Gouda Lobster Mac and Cheese. For those with lighter appetites, combining an appetizer with one of Corked’s salads options or Brick Oven Pizzettas would be sure to please. Better yet, order up a bunch of appetizers for sharing while tasting one or more of Corked’s 32 wine selections available in three tasting pours – 1 ounce, 2.5 ounce and 5 ounce.


Our American Wedge Salads arrived next. The fresh wedges of iceberg lettuce were served with cucumbers, onions, Maytag blue cheese and a slightly creamy white balsamic and Maytag dressing. Tom doesn’t eat anything that even resembles cream so he asked for olive oil and crumbled blue cheese instead. They were happy to oblige our special request which, in my opinion, is the sign of an eatery that truly wishes to please its clientele. The salads were delicious.


We sipped our wine while taking in the decor. Exposed exhaust pipes against a stark black background accent the glowing wine coolers and the shiny floors glisten despite the obvious foot traffic. I loved the leather placemats on the dark walnut tabletops. They give a very clean presentation. The cafe lounge transforms into a late night meeting place with great music that changes from Sinatra to disco as the night goes on.


David arrived with our entrees. I had already chosen the Short Ribs before leaving home from Corked’s on-line menu and I am so glad I did. Braised in red wine and served with root vegetables roasted al dente, Yukon mashed potatoes, topped with a bit of broccolini and lightly fried onions, the lean ribs were absolutely fall-off-the-bone delicious. I very often cook with root vegetables. They add a special sweetness to all of my comfort food preparations and that is the taste this dish conveyed – pure comfort – on a cold winter night. I was happy to take home half of my portion to enjoy another day. Tom ordered a four-ounce Filet Mignon that was served perfectly to medium rare as ordered. He selected side of Saffron Rice to accompany the selection of fresh vegetables and said his meal was just great. We both enjoyed our meals and our Hogue Genesis cabernet went perfectly with both.


Restaurant Manager Josh Baer stopped by our table. Josh grew up in Bethlehem and graduated from Johnson and Wales with a degree in culinary arts and business. He returns to manage Corked after eight years at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Radnor. Tom and I both admired the “brigade”-style service, where everyone works together to get the job done, and it’s very obvious that Josh, the servers and the owners run a very tight ship.


Our waiter David Serfass recommended that I try the Creme Brûlée for dessert which I dutifully did although I could bearly eat another bite. The Creme Brulee was scrumptious served with a fresh berry and pear compote. Tom passed on dessert but we both enjoyed coffee to finish off the meal.


I was happy to chat for a moment with David whose parents own Bethlehem’s Snow Goose Gallery and about whom I’ve written for the magazine. And, David and I met before when he was my waiter for a previous review a while ago at another restaurant.


Our service was super and I am sure we will meet again!


We really enjoyed our evening at Corked Wine Bar and Steakhouse. I must say again that Corked was only open a short while when we dined and we could not get a reservation earlier than 8:00 p.m. So call early. This is a great spot. The urban feel, great mix of music, friendly atmosphere plus wonderful food and service perks up the senses and makes you realize that this restaurant promises to become a new destination on any night of the week.


Corked Wine Bar and Steakhouse is located downtown at 515 Main Street in Bethlehem. Please visit for reservations as well as updated menu, wine availability and other information.

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