Steak Tarzana

Arcwood Wine Bar Pairs Ambitious Food With Fun Vibe in Tarzana

Tarzana’s Arcwood Wine Bar hits the trifecta, delivering food and wine, service and setting.

The west Valley isn’t short on wine bars, with Vino Wine & Tapas Room and Unwind (formerly Peasant Wine Bistro) as options. But new California-inspired Arcwood Wine Bar is certain to be a standout— thanks to the fantastic food and convivial vibe.

Housed in the former 118 Degrees spot, Arcwood is run by longtime hospitality pro Hitesh Ambalal and wife Trina. Hitesh also co-owns Founder’s Ale House in Beverlywood. The duo brought in friend Avner Levi from Cento Pasta Bar to design the ambitious menu and helm the kitchen.

When we say fantastic food, the first thing that comes to mind is the eatery’s seafood-packed Paella de Mar, well worth the 25-minute wait. A partially traditional pan of saffron-stained bomba rice is fully loaded with chorizo, prawns, mussels, plenty of herbs and a squeeze of grilled lemon. There is also a vegetarian version.

Avner has a way with meat. His dry-ages the rib eyes for a minimum of 21 days, along the way wrapping each steak with a towel and misting it with a mix of Jack Daniel’s and honey. When cooking time comes, the chef sears each steak in a cast-iron skillet with butter, rosemary and garlic. Each steak arrives on a wood platter with ramekins of sea salt, olive oil and chimichurri—an herbaceous salsa with Fresno chile kick. Trimmings from the rib eye are used to create a tartare, served on buttery grilled bread with tonnato (creamy tuna) sauce and parsley.

If you’re looking for a simpler pleasure, their Wagyu burger is a winner. Arcwood grinds Australian Wagyu beef in-house, incorporating chuck, short rib and navel. Each seared patty features grain mustard Cheddar and sweet mustard aioli and comes on a steamed Puritan Bakery bun with a side of house-made zucchini pickles.

Avner previously worked for Bestia and Sotto and has some serious pasta skills. For a recent special, he made ridged potato gnocchi with spicy pork sausage ragu, Parmesan butter and chives.

Arcwood is also a great place to grab a plate of chicken wings. “Unicorn wings” are crispy chicken wings tossed with an umami-rich sauce made with equal parts black garlic and garlic, hoisin, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Aleppo pepper.

Wine bar standards at Arcwood include mix-and-match plates of cheese and charcuterie. Also on the menu: a single dessert that is seasonal in nature. During our visit, that meant a pavlova with strawberries, soft cream and lemon zest.

Arcwood’s wine list boasts more than 60 selections, from California and all over the world. There are more than 30 by the glass. This isn’t the kind of wine bar where you’ll find some rare, obscure bottle. Instead Hitesh features vintages from 2009 or later, all designed for immediate gratification. Each wine is listed with the year of production, place of origin, key tasting notes and cost. During our visit, Hitesh was especially eager to pour a pair of Italian reds: Le Sughere di Frassinello from Rocca di Frassinello in Tuscany and a 2015 ripasso from Speri Valpolicella in Veneto.

Hitesh shares, “I don’t go to restaurants for the food. I don’t go to restaurants for the drinks. I go for the interactions, the people and the experiences.” At Arcwood, patrons are in for all three.

18636 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, 818-794-0946

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