This upscale dining hotspot in Geneva looks to grow upon 10 years of serving quality, time-tested steak, seafood and drinks.
A 10-year anniversary can be a rarity in the restaurant business. Wildwood, 477 Third St., Ste. 190, in Geneva, reached the milestone in April, and for good reason. Its successful balance of time-tested recipes, quality service, innovative specials and exciting events has carved it a well-deserved spot in downtown Genvea.
Patrick Neary, owner and wine director, isn’t looking back so much as he’s looking forward.
“It’s all about doing what you do well,” says Neary. “But now we want to push the boundaries even more.”
Wildwood keeps its classic upscale American menu fresh with seasonal specialties and modern twists. Between its elegant main dining room, outdoor courtyard and urban lounge, it can seat more than 200 guests around white-linen covered tables. Menu cornerstones include the oak-grilled steaks and chops, and fresh fish and seafood. An award-winning wine list, beer selections and spirits promise the perfect pairing for any dish.
Before he opened Wildwood in 2006, Neary spent decades as a financial consultant traveling the world, at one time living in southern Europe. He took note of the standout qualities and dishes of his favorite restaurants, developing a sophisticated palate for food and wine. When he left the consulting field, Neary knew he needed a new project to keep his workaholic personality engaged.
“I’m not someone who’s going to retire, so I started thinking about what I could continue doing for years and years – and I always liked the vibe in great restaurants,” he says. “I liked the seasonal menus, healthy drink pours, great wine selections and ample portion sizes. So when it came to Wildwood, the thought was to incorporate a lot of the things I’ve seen in my travels.”
After launching Wildwood on Geneva’s lively Third Street, Neary has continually adapted the restaurant to meet valuable customer feedback, current trends and changing economic conditions. Two years after opening, Neary added a private dining room, capable of accommodating up to 80 guests for a meal or 120 guests for a cocktail party.
Wildwood also has taken advantage of live entertainment and trendy holiday dining. Special family-style meals are served on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Easter and Mother’s Day. Neary’s current focus is making seasonal changes in brunch, lunch and dinner menus and expanding Wildwood’s craft cocktail offerings.
The menu at Wildwood stays balanced between red meat and fresh fish. It’s perhaps best known for its steaks, but Neary says seafood dishes are served in equal numbers. From the start, customers have been drawn to the bestselling Door County whitefish, covered with shiitake mushrooms, leeks, sun-dried cherries and a white wine butter sauce.
As a five-year winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, Wildwood boasts one of the largest and most diverse wine menus in the region. Its bar stocks more than 300 wines by the bottle and 30 by the glass – not to mention more than 100 varieties of bottled and draft beers, specialty martinis and cocktails.
“One of the things I think Wildwood excels in is that we are really attentive to our loyal customers and that keeps us consistent,” says Neary. “We always have had the same suppliers and kept the same portion sizes, which isn’t always easy. But we want to reward those customers by giving them the same great experience every time.”
Interacting with customers is perhaps Neary’s favorite part of the job. He spends most nights talking with diners and helping them find the perfect pairing for a meal. After years of drinking wines in Portugal and much of Europe, Neary is happy sharing his experience and taste with others.
“It’s easy to find expensive wines that are good, but the fun is finding a value-priced wine, one that maybe nobody knows, that’s a really good wine,” he says. “That’s the fun: when you find a unique item that really stands up well.”
Neary plans to introduce a loyalty rewards program this spring in honor of the restaurant’s anniversary. It provides frequent diners a 10-percent discount. A new Wild About Wine Club offers members a hand-selected wine every month, along with access to other wine events.
Wildwood is open for dinner daily at 5 p.m. It’s open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays and serves brunch on weekends.