Ladro Enoteca had been on my list of places to try for a while, and it seemed the perfect place to catch up with a friend after both having very busy summers. We arrived there at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday, just in time to grab the last table. While the space is small, the layout and design choices manage to make it feel more cozy rather than cramped. After we reviewed the menu and made our decisions, our perfectly attentive waitress quickly took our orders.


bordiga spritz and hugo. Photo by Caitlin Aylmer.Photo by Caitlin Aylmer.

For my drink, I chose the hugo ($12), purely out of love for elderflower anything. Initially wary of how elderflower would pair with mint, the drink won me over instantly. The subtle sweetness of the mint was such a fantastic and refreshing complement to the light floral elderflower. Combining the two with a bubbly prosecco made for a delightfully jubilant drink.

bordiga spritz and hugo. Photo by Caitlin AylmerPhoto by Caitlin Aylmer.

My dining companion went for the bordiga spritz ($12). He enjoyed the citrus element the orange slice added to the flavor profile and found it to be a quite tantalizing drink overall.

For our ‘snackettes’ we chose the summer sausage plate ($12) and burrata ($15).

Burrata surrounded by local sun gold tomatoes topped with crispy garlic. Photo by Caitlin AylmerPhoto by Caitlin Aylmer.

While the portion sizes are ideal for sharing, we took a different approach wherein I devoured the burrata plate by myself. In hindsight, it was quite a bit of cheese to eat by oneself, but the combination of the sungold tomatoes and crispy garlic alongside the rich burrata made it irresistible. I was told these particular tomatoes were sourced from a friend's garden that day, though produce from local Humbleweed Farms also makes frequent appearances.

Summer sausage plate with grainy mustard and pickles. Photo by Caitlin AylmerPhoto by Caitlin Aylmer.

My friend was equally impressed with his summer sausage platter. The acidity of the pickles and mustard paired well with the heavier summer sausage, which my friend described as being pleasantly flavorful.     

Bottle of Michel Michel and Blanxart chocolate bar. Photo by Caitlin AylmerPhoto by Caitlin Aylmer.

On our way out, I picked up a brightly hued bottle of Château Lestignac, 'Michel Michel' and indulged in a quick impulse buy of a small Blanxart milk chocolate bar. The wine proved to have a lovely savory citrus balance, despite its flashy coloration.

Overall, I was impressed with how cohesive and intentional all the elements of the dining experience felt. The small group sizes (no more than 4, please) was helpful to ensure everyone in the party could truly be present and engaged. There was not a dizzying array of drinks with coy names, nor a culinary encyclopedia of menu items.

At Ladro Enoteca, there are a few thoughtfully selected mixed drinks, a good array of ciders and beers, and well-informed food pairings for these drinks. While the number of menu options is on the smaller end, vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, and carnivores can all rejoice: there is something to snack on for everyone. The greatest variety can be found in your options for wine, but even the literal wall of choices felt thoughtfully curated.

The focus of Ladro Enoteca is undoubtedly wine, which they do very well. However, what I genuinely appreciate — and would like to emphasize — is their effort to provide locally sourced and seasonally conscious food pairings. I hope the menu continues on in this way, and I look forward to trying new things throughout the year.

The next time you need a bottle of wine, allot yourself a little extra time to enjoy a sampling of what Ladro Enoteca has to offer.

Ladro Enoteca
1 E Main Suite 108
Champaign
Su-Th 2 p.m. to 9 p.m
F+Sa 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Top image by Caitlin Aylmer.