SCOPO DIVINO Wine Bar: “The Divine Purpose of Wine”

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Scopo Divino quite literally means ” the divine purpose of wine.”

For the last five years, Scopo Divino Wine Bar and Restaurant have won every award in the book.  Out of the gate, they earned the “Best Wine Bar” award a few short months after their opening in July 2016 and continuing receiving it every year as well as several other choice food, wine, and hospitality awards.

Why?

This was a question I asked Tim Hayman, the owner of Scopo Divino when I met him last week on-site, where we chatted about wine and food at his restaurant. First off, Tim is a people person. He is interesting to talk to and conversation flows effortlessly (like, well, wine).  Steeped in wine culture, he is an oenophile who developed a taste for wine as a pre-schooler when he accompanied his parents on wine outings, visiting wineries in Northern California, and even at that young age was sampling different varietals with his parents!

As a student, he studied  Italian Literature and screenwriting, intending to have a career in the arts or movies.  But that changed when Tim entered the advertising world. It was here that he realized he wanted to have his own company. He just wasn’t sure what it would be.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

With a  passion for wine and wine culture, he was also gregarious and when working in the service industry he found he loved throwing parties and entertaining people. Was it possible to bring all these passions together… perhaps as a wine bar?

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Starting with an extensive spreadsheet that he designed with multiple categories including lighting, food, service, ambiance, wine, and many more columns, he began doing on-the-ground research visiting at least 100 wine bars, analyzing each one, then adding his findings to the spreadsheet, thereby building the outline for his intended brand.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

It was this process that defined the experience that he wanted his customers to enjoy when they entered Scopo Divino.  There’s a secret ingredient, though, that none of the inspirations could have possessed: Tim’s warm personality which pervades every facet of his wine bar, making everyone feel like a guest in his own home.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Finding an available location in Pacific Heights on California Street near Divisidero in San Francisco, he set about transforming the space into one of the most attractive interiors for a wine bar, incorporating the information that was distilled from his spreadsheet. The interior is warm and inviting with an extensive bar for socializing and drinking wine

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Tim loves maps, and invited Marie Bencivenga, a well-recognized multimedia artist, to paint custom murals on the walls, representing maps of several wine regions, “from where wine is done well” (a quote from Tim) — giving an instant message that Scopo Divino sources the best wine from vineyards all over the world for their wine library.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

The artist added elements like mermaids, sea urchins, dragons, and ships, reminiscent of hand-drawn antique maritime maps. 

Pressed tin ceilings and soft lighting add to the ambiance. To one side, are upholstered sofas and chairs for those who want to settle in and relax.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

The interior design was so exceptional that it was featured in the magazine Haute Living.

 The wine library, an extended wine fridge along one wall houses about 140 bottles of diverse varietals from the best wine-growing regions of the World, is constantly changing. He also offers about thirty-six wines by the glass. Tim has cultivated a number of distributor relationships, giving Scopo Divino a rounded selection of curated wines unique to his wine bar: a combination that will not be found anywhere else.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

A Sommelier Level 1, Tim is knowledgeable about his wines and then, of course, his palate should be well defined as he’s been tasting wine since he was a toddler!  He also calls himself a Wine Therapist, explaining that people drink wine to enhance or change their mood,  celebrate an occasion, or just for pure enjoyment. Because he and his staff know their wines, they are able to match the feeling or the occasion to the right wine. Or, they may suggest a flight of wines, to broaden the experience, if you’re “in the mood!”

Kristi Neff, his assistant, is also a Sommelier 1 with extensive knowledge in wine sales, and equally competent to carry out” therapy,” guiding customers through their choice of wine.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Initially, wine was the main focus, accompanied by charcuterie boards but very soon, the food service was extended to what is now a compelling menu with wine pairings that are a feast unto themselves.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Thus enters executive Chef Matthew Russell Woods, a transplant from New Orleans. He’s steadily honed the menu, with each food item paired with a suitable wine recommendation.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

He joined Scopo Divino with a  history of working with illustrious chefs from New Orleans and San Francisco and has added New Orleans staples to the menu, such as beignets for the Sunday brunch, alongside Catfish Benedict with a Cherry Bellini. Executive Chef Woods has a mantra: “it’s not the ingredients, it’s how you prepare the food,”  suggesting a deep sensitivity for his craft.

 

There are three menus: a drinks menu, a kitchen menu, and a brunch menu. It is unusual for a wine bar to serve a comprehensive brunch, but with a fine chef, this menu excels with 10 bottomless drinks and a tantalizing New Orleans style menu to accompany it.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Happy hour daily is from 3.00–6.00 pm, and attracts people on their way home from work. During this time, the happy hour oyster deal is half-price oysters with drinks, which are in turn discounted 20% — more like a steal than a deal!

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Everything at Scopo Divino has been well researched and there is a reason the hamburger, on its own, has won its share of awards and has been described as “a burger to rival all others, one of the best in the Bay Area”. It embodies traits shared by every menu item: each element of the burger is exceptional, from the special brioche bread roll to the way it is buttered, toasted, and seasoned, then layered, with its double patty, atop other ingredients and offered with curly fries or a scrumptious side salad. In 2021, it won the Bergey Burger award from 48 Hills, named after its namesake Jefferson Bergey, to honor him after his 100th performance at Scopo Divino on Monday nights.

Photo credit: Scopo Divino

Fitting with Tim’s love of parties and entertaining, Scopo Divino also has a music program incorporating live music. The workweek is defined musically as:

Tuesdays 5.00 – 8.00 pm, Simon Butler Trio, Jazz/Funk

Wednesdays 5.00 – 8.00 pm, Kit Ruscoe Trio, Funk

Thursday 5.00 – 8.00 pm, rotating two bands: Alacrito & Ritmo de la Musica, Latin Jazz

Saturdays 4.00 – 7.00 pm, Rotation of all the bands

Sundays 4.00 – 7.00 pm, Steve Nelson Trio, Jazz/Swing

Note: While it has not been possible to do the normal Risque performance during the pandemic, Jefferson Bergey has continued to perform every Monday, online only. Once the band can return to performing inside, Risque Mondays and Bergey will be back.

That spot can’t help but be happening, being in the heart of a downtown urban neighborhood. Locals love these events and drop info glass of wine, or wine and dine with live music to mingle with neighbors and friends. And for Tim, all of his interests have finally come together: a place where he can enjoy serving fine wine while chatting to his guests and throwing a party every night.

If you are looking for the ultimate Wine Bar experience, with a date, a friend (or a bunch of friends making up your social pod) paired with excellent wine, good food, and lots of fun, it is Scopo Divino in Pacific Heights.

 

Photo. Scopo Divino.

Until Covid restrictions are lifted, outdoor dining with tables on the sidewalk, limited indoor seating. Take-out and delivery.

Scopo Divino

2800 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
T: (415) 928-3728
Monday – Friday : 3pm – 9pm
Saturday – Sunday : 11am – 9pm
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.scopodivino.com

9 thoughts on “SCOPO DIVINO Wine Bar: “The Divine Purpose of Wine””

  1. So this is where you hang out!! Very good taste & your blog makes me feel like a night out with a good glass of wine and a burger. Great read.

  2. Phyl: This blog post/restaurant review of Scopo Divino is enormously inviting, delicious in its descriptions of the gorgeous atmosphere, opportunities to taste delicious wines and menu selections (I want the beignets right now, or the hamburger would suit me just fine, etc. etc.) Plus dining with music in the background –Bellisimo. A ‘must experience’ soon aster ‘lock down’ is over!! Glorious photos and writing—-Thank you!!

  3. Giselle Sutter Sponholtz

    what a fabulous review! I cant wait to go and try that Luscious burger!!! Perhaps this “wine Therapy” will allow all of us to forget the past 12 months?

  4. Davida,
    Doesn’t it remind you of the “olden days”?
    So much we took for granted like dining out with good food and wine, and music in the background?
    I am optimistic we will ge getting back to “thoe days” in a few months.
    Thanks for reading.
    Phyl.

  5. Giselle,
    I’m with you – signing up for wine therapy!
    Thanks for tasting — I mean reading!
    Phyl.

  6. Giselle,
    I’m with you — signing up for the wine therapy!

    Thanks for tasting — I mean reading.
    Phyl.

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