As the nation’s reigning Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar, Herbs & Rye has the virtue of consistency nailed—it has to when the staff is blazing through a stack of tickets on a wild Saturday night. Now an important artifact has been returned to its rightful place on the property. Owner Nectaly Mendoza has rechristened the smaller dining room Angelina’s Room. Long before Herbs & Rye opened in 2009, and preceding all previous incarnations as a Mexican restaurant or fried-clam joint, 3713 West Sahara Avenue was known as The Venetian. From 1955 to 2003, owners Lou and Angelina “Angie” Ruvo (yes, those Ruvos!) operated the old-school red-sauce Italian restaurant. As the story goes, Lou installed a beautiful stained glass sign reading “Angelina’s Room” in the doorway from which Angie would stand and keep an eye on business.
In December, Mendoza welcomed Angie, now 93, and her son, Southern Wine & Spirits co-founder Larry Ruvo, for her first visit to Herbs & Rye. Mendoza told Angie he had commissioned a replica of the sign he had seen in old photos of the place. Moved to tears, Mendoza says, Larry instead insisted that Herbs & Rye have the original sign, which Larry had kept safe all these years. Angie quickly pointed out her spot between the bar and her dining room, so it’s above that doorway that Mendoza has installed the original sign. Furthermore, Mendoza intends to have a mural of the original Venetian menu art painted on the wall. “It took us years to get [Angie] in here,” Mendoza laughs.
In addition to Angelina’s Room, Mendoza says Herbs’ famous flocked red walls will get some love in the form of framed photos of people from both sides of the bar. “Herbs & Rye will be dedicated to the people who have made it successful,” Mendoza says. And don’t be surprised if you see the man shopping for real estate—Mendoza states that he is aggressively seeking expansion for the little bar that could … and did.