A bottle of red, a bottle of white… some things never change in La Jolla

Before heading up to Los Angeles this week to work at Sotto where I curate the wine list, I stopped in my hometown of La Jolla, California, to have dinner with father Zane who was in from Indiana visiting my brothers down there. We decided to go to Carino’s Pizza on La Jolla Boulevard, a restaurant where the décor has not changed since 1971, when the current owner bought the joint and when my family moved to Southern California from Chicago (Remember when Annie Hall moves to LA eats in a vegetarian restaurant, smokes pot and uses black soap? That’s essentially what happened.) The place looks like a movie set and is still adorned by murals of Mt. Vesuvius.

The food at Carino’s is nothing to write home about. But then again, I was at home. I hadn’t been there in literally 16 years. The antipasto was exactly as I remembered it. Over breakfast the next morning mama Judy said, “honey, I hate to tell you this, but you smell like garlic. You should do something about that before you start your day,” she added. I guess it’s the kinda food that “sticks with you.”

Carino’s has a moderate corkage fee of $8 and so I brought this excellent bottle of 09 Toni Jost Riesling that my buddy Jesse sold me. I’ve been drinking a lot of Riesling this summer (and posting about it over at the Houston Press blog, Eating Our Words).The wine was bright and delicious, with a wonderful 12% alcohol. Great pairing for the antipasto.

The pizza hasn’t changed either. We had the peperoni with jalapeños.

I popped a bottle of 05 Benanti Nerello Mascalese from Etna, Sicily. This has been one of my favorite red wines this year: earth and black and red and berry fruit, with bright bright acidity, and that wonderful balance of elegance, lightness, and power that you find in the pharmacist’s wine (Benanti made his fortune in pharmaceuticals before becoming a winemaker).

Zane doesn’t drink red wine, so he didn’t have any.

He talked to me about the usual subjects: his expertise in aerophysics and the recordings arts, Israeli politics, and his legacy as a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Some things never change… Es muss sein…