Caffe Dolce: Where Price and Passion Meet

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

Ninety-nine bottle of beer on the wall, they say, but at Caffe Dolce it’s wine you’ll see — beautifully arranged on the wall behind the counter. However, under the guidance of Jerod Peitsmeyer, Caffe Dolce’s Wine and Beer Director, a patron at their neighborhood location (Brooks and Beckwith) can easily pick from over 100 bottles of beer or wine, pass it around, and be merry enough to sing the rest of the song.

Opening their second location in September 2008, Caffe Dolce is founded on fine dining with informal flare, at everyday price points. From traditional Italian coffee services to pasta made fresh every day, Caffe Dolce wants to immerse its patrons in global, edible pleasures and pair them with the best wine and beer for each dish and each palate.

“I wanted to create the largest list of beer and wine I could with representation worldwide,” explains Peitsmeyer, who has served as Wine Director since the neighborhood location opened and who took over the management of their beer selection after that position was vacated in late 2010.

“I’m a home brewer myself, so I wanted to put my passion for beer into our menu and make it part of our dining experience,” Peitsmeyer explains. With 60+ bottles of wine to choose from, 25+ wine-by-the-glass options and well over 50 beers from around the world, including six beers on tap, it may seem that making a choice for what goes best with your Veal Osso Bucco would be difficult. Not so, thanks to Caffe Dolce’s hands-on training efforts with their staff. Every evening after close, one to two bottles of beer or wine are opened for staff to taste and discuss.

Dedicated to value, the vast majority of bottled wines are $60 or less, but you will find a couple over $100 if you’re feeling especially celebratory. With the beers, it’s much less – ranging from $4 to $15 a bottle. In the last 3-4 months, beer sales have doubled, thanks to Peitsmeyer’s efforts, and he’s changing his beer and wine menus about every week to reflect what’s available andtrending.

“It’s my goal to find the best bottle of beer or wine at the best price,” says Peitsmeyer, “and if I find something really good, I’ll buy them all so we can serve them to our customers. I’m sourcing what’s not available everywhere else.”

Peitsmeyer’s next effort to improve his beer service is sourcing all the proper glassware for each style of beer he serves. Like wine, beer devotees nose, swirl and swish in order to bring out the subtleties and complexities of craft beer, and having the right glass can vastly improve the experience.

To educate their customer base, Caffe Dolce offers monthly wine tastings on the third Tuesday of each month (typically) from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the tasting are $20, which includes access to 5-6 different appetizers and tastings of 10-12 wines. Seating is limited, so it’s best to reserve your spot early. To be notified of upcoming events, you can sign up for Caffe Dolce’s newsletter at the restaurant or online.

Earlier this year, Caffe Dolce partnered with Blackfoot Brewing Co. for a craft beer tasting, and Peitsmeyer has plans for hosting about four beer tastings a year, with perhaps one or two brewer’s dinners.

So how well do you know your “beerware”? It’s much more involved than steins and pints. Here’s a link from BeerAdvocate.com for the “101” on beer glassware, and links for purchasing some of the more unique ones online.

Like this Drink It blog?  Chances are you’ll like these blogs by Missoula’s Drink It expert, Ryan Newhouse:  Tamarack Brewing Company, Montana Whiskey and Vodka, A New Brew in Town- Flathead Lake Brewing Co.  And check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

Click here to see Ryan’s “Drink It”archive.

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Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for WildGame.