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Lincoln Cellar
Not your typical wine barBy RICHARD PALOMA

Recently opened in Stockton’s Lincoln Center with its appetizing cuisine, incredible wines and stylish atmosphere is Lincoln Cellar, a wine bar featuring not only gifts of the vine but the extraordinary fare of executive chef Alex Moreno.

Though named a “wine bar” featuring an extensive wine list available by the glass, bottle or even with the 209’s first WineEmotion – a self-service dispenser that allows customers to savor various wines in two, three or five-ounce pours – Chef Moreno creates tranquil ambiance with an enticing menu of entrées or shared appetizers with a focus on local ingredients.

Moreno prides himself on going to local farms for his ingredients.

“My menus are focused off what’s growing here and right now,” said Moreno, who added the buying from local growers and farms cuts out the middleman. “It’s ideal to utilize what’s available to you locally. The San Joaquin Valley is a major agriculture producer for not only the nation, but the world.”

Also, Moreno uses 90 percent organic produce.

“Because I use local, my menus change seasonally,” Moreno said.

Moreno, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, uses his experience to artistically fashion a menu of American, French, Italian, and Asian fusion cuisine.

This time of year Moreno features a savory bone-in pork chop. Satisfying with a touch of sweetness, this chop is grilled and topped with a honey and ancho chile marmalade.

Also on the dinner menu are boneless short ribs braised in old Zinfandel served with a Fiscallini Farms of Modesto white cheddar and cranberry demi-glace and polenta.

“It’s the ultimate comfort food,” said Moreno.

On the lighter side, Lincoln Cellar offers a pancetta and spinach salad with caramelized onions, Chèvre goat cheese, candied almonds with white Balsamic vinaigrette topped with grilled prawns.

“I try to keep the seafood as local as possible too,” Moreno added, buying from Aloha Seafood of San Francisco with deliveries daily.

Selections include halibut from Half Moon Bay, Monterey calamari, Point Reyes oysters, and when available, salmon off the San Francisco coast.

On the seafood side, Moreno presents seasonal favorites of pan-seared grouper with couscous and Mediterranean grilled vegetables, winter leek risotto with grilled prawns and garlic cream sauce, or grilled yellowtail with sesame jasmine rice, braised bok choy, and spicy orange sauce.

Carefully curated wines at the establishment are first and foremost. By the glass or bottle, vintages not only from local wineries of Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles but also Argentina, Spain, and Italy are available.

With the WineEmotion, self-serve, wine dispensing system patrons explore 16 different varietals of wine by sampling various sized pours at the touch of a button.

If beer is desired, Lincoln Cellar delivers there too.

Moreno offers plenty of beer selections, including several locals on tap such as Hops of Wrath IPA, Baltic Porter and Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s Stockton Session Amber Ale.

Alicia Moreno is the restaurant manager and the partnership team of Maria Mills, Sue Arismendi and Joe Phillips all share their passion for great food and a relaxing atmosphere to make Lincoln Cellar an enjoyable experience.

Hours are: Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Lincoln Cellar is at 357 Lincoln Center in Stockton, call 209-594-1691.