2930 NE Killingsworth

Sometimes after I get home from a restaurant, I remember clearly why I used to sit alone on the floor in my apartment eating Tostitos and cold baked beans for dinner. The outside restaurant world is so often such a loud, glaring, horrible "Red Robin" sort of place, with annoying waitpeople that say things like, "You still munchin' on that Boca burger?" or, "Howz-about a delicious hunk of blackbottom pie for desert?" That shit makes me want to move to bloody Sibera and live in a fishing hovel or an igloo.

Grolla, however, is the antithesis of everything I hate about the world, and restaurants for that matter; it's calm and gratifying, like a bubble bath with a glass of Merlot in hand, in a room filled with candles and floaty music.

The deal is that they're a wine bar, with a ton of great reds and whites, all of which your server can describe in depth. The menu is light, simple, and satisfying, with a limited number of items, but always something worth eating.

The tomato slices, with authentic fresh mozzarella and vinegar, are splendid and run about six bucks, and the salads, cheese tray, and sandwiches are uncomplicated and divine. The Grolla sandwich is also particularly tasty, with turkey and bell peppers on focaccia with a sweet Asian slaw on the side. After our dinner, they asked if we'd like some fruit, and brought out the cutest little plate of apple slices, strawberries and dried fruit. More places should have so much thoughtfulness and class.

The décor is ornate yet mellow, with big, heavy wooden tables and chairs with shiny fabric covers on them. Tall, folding doors give the restaurant the feel of a French outdoor café, while inside it's dim and relaxing--and even has a fountain. The dining room teeters between feeling like the inside of a medieval castle, and a spa or fancy soap store.

The real wonder of Grolla is that it transports you. It's this little place on Killingsworth across from a cruddy U-Haul outlet, down the street from 10 different run-down mini-marts; but whether you're on the sidewalk or indoors, you feel like you're in some elegant city you've never been to.