So sexy at L’Apicio, Manhattan’s newest über cool restaurant

Maybe because it’s the hottest new restaurant in Manhattan… Maybe because its wine list is organized by white, red, and orange… Maybe it’s because everybody who’s anybody in the NYC scene was there last night… or maybe because owner Joe Campanale is just so damned good looking…

You just can’t help but feel sexy at L’Apicio, named after L’Apicio Moderno, the landmark eighteenth-century cookery book.

The restaurant just opened last week and Alice, Paolo, and I were lucky enough to snag a table.

How can you not love a restaurant that has Donati Malvasia frizzante on the list?

Everyone in Manhattan is talking about the Arpepe Rosso di Valtellina, recently landed on the island.

Friggin’ brilliant… just friggin’ brilliant… I loved it.

I’ve known owners Joe, August, and Katherine since 2005 when we all worked together during some heady times in the New York wine world. It’s so great to see their immense success as they build a new Italophile, enogastronomic empire. They’re among the nicest people in the wine and food biz and I love them and what they do. And I learned last night that Katherine’s husband, chef Gabe Thompson, is from Texas! We’re looking forward to seeing them in Austin…

Oxidative Clairette and octopus at Marea

From the department of “life could be worse”…

What a thrill to dine last night at Marea with Alice Feiring and Paolo Cantele, two of my favorite people in the world.

The food was spectacular and I was surprised to see that they’ve expanded their list greatly to include an impressive French selection (the first time I visited the focus and concentration was purely Italian).

Alice’ choice was 2007 Château Simone white, my first taste of this extraordinary expression of Clairette. It took a while to open up and I reserved a glass to drink at the end of the meal, when its fruit really began to show brilliantly.

The pasta at Marea has been consistently superb in my experience there. The long noodles with shellfish and calamari was great.

My selection was the 2001 Pepe, still very tannic and dark but utterly delicious, with that rich mouthfeel unique to Pepe’s wines.  I’ve tasted a lot of Pepe lately because we currently offer a vertical at Sotto in LA (where I curate the wine list) and these wines always inspire me.

Tonight we’re heading to Joe Campanale’s new restaurant L’Apicio and then to visit one of my best friends in the NYC wine and food scene… Stay tuned… 

Loved the Kabaj Rebula (Brda, Slovenia) @anforanyc thx @joecampanale cc @bluedanubewine

Was very geeked to share a glass of rocks, fruit, and spice at Anfora in Manhattan with owners Joe and August (I’m a fan… of the place and the dudes).

Found this cool write-up of the winery by the folks at Blue Danube Wine in California.

Dell’Anima: a new favorite wine list and a lucky son

Posting in a hurry this morning as I head out to a busy day of meetings and working meals and tastings in NYC but just had to share the FANTASTIC wines I tasted last night at Dell’Anima. That’s owner Joe Campanale and his mom, DellAnimom, who does all of Joe’s social media. Joe, a friend, is such a sweet and talented dude and I simply adore his mom. They work together closely and she is a delight.

The place was packed with downtown glitterati, raw scallops, and black truffles.

1999 Vermentino BY THE GLASS! I was blown away by how much life this wine had in it. Joe’s got a fantastic BTG program, with a lot of stuff from the 90s…

So geeked to see this wine by Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema in the market. Perfect with my risotto alla pilota.

If only more people knew Gianni Brunelli’s wines, we might achieve peace in the Middle East.

La Stoppa’s Ageno is one of my favorite wines of all time. Drank it with dessert.

Tracie P’s pici

In the wake of a comment on this blog by Tracie P (while I was in Tuscany) sharing her yen for some Tuscan pici (long noodles made with only flour and water), my good friend Federico aka Fred (export director for one of my favorite Montalcino wineries, Le Presi) appeared one day with two bags of dried pici by Panarese for me to take home.

Last night for dinner, Tracie P defrosted some of her excellent ragù and used it to dress a few nidi (nests) of the pici (also called pinci).

On the back of the label, the only ingredients listed are durum wheat flour and water. There’s something about pici, even when dried (and not freshly rolled out), that makes them ideal for meat sauces (or mushrooms). For all of their humility, the purity of the saltless flour and the texture of the noodles create a sublime pairing with the richness of the sauce. Simply delicious. We paired with a grapey, bretty, easygoing Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that was remarkably fresh and bouncy for an 06. A perfect Tuesday night dinner, catching up on the TV shows we missed (Tracie P sacrificed herself and did NOT watch the season finales of True Blood and Mad Men so that we could watch them together… THAT’S how much she loves me, she says).

How did I manage to get the pasta back without any breakage?

I used my cowboy hat, of course! I packed the bags of noodles on either side of the “crown” of the hat in my carry-on. It worked like a charm! That’s me, btw, above, outside the famous Osteria al Cappello in Udine, where hundreds of hats (cappelli) hang from the ceiling. (Photo by Joe Campanale.) The owner asked me if I’d give her my hat for her restaurant. “Un bel cappello,” she said. “A fine hat.”

“Naw,” I told her. “This hat will be riding home with the San Diego Kid back to Austin.” I’ll post more on the AMAZING MEAL I had at Osteria al Cappello in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, we’re sending lots of love to Pam and Melvin Croaker today. Melvin, you may remember, gave me my cowboy hat late last year.

The virtual sommelier strikes again: Castell’in Villa ’82

Above: 1982 Castell’in Villa at Dell’Anima in Manhattan.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them: I’m just “keeping the world safe for Italian wine.” A number of my friends have suggested that I use the line as a tagline for Do Bianchi and maybe one day I will.

In the meantime, I recently received an email from John, who lives in San Diego but was headed to Dell’Anima in Manhattan for a special dinner with his wife:

    I recall reading something about a friend of yours emailing a picture of the wine list at a place in San Francisco, and you gave some sage advice. I hope I’m not being presumptuous, but I was wondering if you could take a look at a list and see if anything jumps out at you. We’re back in NYC for one night this Friday (Sept. 19), and are eating at Dell’Anima.

I took a quick look at owner Joe Campanale’s excellent list and there were a number of great options, at different price points. But the wine that really spoke to me, at a palatable price point, was the 1982 Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico.

Today, John writes:

    We had a great dinner at Dell’Anima Friday night. I’ll save the complete report for when we meet in person, but Joe came up to greet us … and then we decided on the Castell’in Villa ’82, which he poured a bit of into our glasses and then decanted. An Amazing Wine Experience! … It evolved beautifully for the whole hour it took to drink.

    I finished The Accidental Conoisseur on the flight back, and it was fun to see Rosenthal’s quotation on p. 210: “Are there any great Chiantis anymore? There’s Castell’in Villa, okay – but practically nothing else.”

That’s what we do over here at Do Bianchi… just keeping the world safe for Italian wine, one wine lover at a time.