Trulli yours, New York: 97 Barolo Massara and Ben’s new movie

best apulian pugliese restaurant

Last night found Alice, Paolo (in the photo above, left), and me at the table of New York restaurant maven Nicola Marzovilla (above, right), whose landmark I Trulli Enoteca e Ristorante has been one of the city’s culinary standbys since the late 1990s (when I first moved to New York).

We were joined by my good friend Ben (above, center) whose new movie, Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, will be shown at the great cinema d’essai, Film Forum, starting October 31.

(Click here for the trailer and click here for screening info and see the synopsis of the film below.)

Nicola’s been returning to his roots, he said, as we enjoyed his mother’s cavatelli with broccoli raab and orecchiette with rabbit and tomato. He’s running the kitchen these days and the menu has returned to its original mandate of classic Apulian (Pugliese) cuisine with flourishes of Sicilian and Sardinian.

We also got to taste Nicola’s new wines, including the amphora-aged rosé from Sangiovese grown on Nicola’s small property in Impruneta (not far from Florence). I loved this wine, bright and fresh and very food-friendly.

But the show-stopper was this 1997 Castello di Verduno Barolo Massara. Surprisingly tight and ungenerous with its fruit, it showed beautifully as it opened up, with notes of spearmint on the nose and dark earth in the mouth (it reminded me in style of the great wines of Giuseppe Mascarello).

Congrats, Ben, on the new film (I saw it in Austin at SXSW, where it was one of the most talked about films in the festival) and congrats, Nicola, on the new wines…

Now it’s time to get my butt back to Texas… There’ll be more New York stories coming just as soon as I get my feet back on the ground and wrap my arms around my girls… thanks for following along…


Gregory Crewdson’s riveting photographs are elaborately staged, elegant narratives compressed into a single, albeit large-scale image, many of them taken at twilight, set in small towns of Western Massachusetts or meticulously recreated interior spaces, built on the kind of sound stages associated with big-budget movies. Ben Shapiro’s fascinating profile of the acclaimed Berkshire-based artist includes stories of his Park Slope childhood (in which he tried to overhear patients of his psychologist father), his summers in the bucolic countryside (which he now imbues with a sense of dread and foreboding), and his encounter with Diane Arbus’s work in 1972 at age 10. Novelists Rick Moody and Russell Banks, and fellow photographer Laurie Simmons, comment on the motivation behind their friend’s haunting images. But Crewdson remains his own best critic: “Every artist has one central story to tell. The struggle is to tell and retell that story over again – and to challenge that story. It’s the defining story of who you are.”

Negroamaro: Italian grape name pronunciation project


This week is going to be “Apulia” (“Puglia”)* week here on the blog: after Tracie P and I traveled to the Veneto and to Friuli in February, I headed — for the first time — to Apulia where I spent a few days with my friend and client winemaker Paolo Cantele. That’s Paolo’s voice above, speaking the grape name Negroamaro.

When Paolo and I met for the first time nearly two years ago (when we first became friends), we had a long discussion on the etymology of the ampelonym Negroamaro, which Paolo and I believe means black black and not black bitter as subscribers to the grape name’s folkloric etymology often report. Here’s the post on Paolo’s thought and my treatment of the grape name’s etymon.

When I met with Paolo in February, it occurred to me that one of the most commonly mispronounced Italian appellation names is Salice Salentino: SAH-lee-cheh SAH-lehn-TEE-noh. I asked Paolo to pronounce it properly for my camera and hence was born the “Italian Appellation Pronunciation Project.” Note that Salice is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable of the word. (BTW, I’ve composed an overview of the origins of the toponym Salice Salentino here, for Paolo’s blog.)

Even though I’ve studied the grapes and wines of Apulia (and I even worked for 3 years as the media director for an Apulian restaurant in NYC, I Trulli), I’d never traveled to the region until recently. The thing that impressed me the most was the ubiquity of olive trees. I’ll have a lot more to say about olive groves and the wonders of Apulia this week (“Apulia Week” at Do Bianchi!). But in the meantime, you’ll note that in the videos above, the olive groves are endless as Paolo and I drive from Lecce along the highway to the airport in Brindisi…

* Even though editorial convention in the U.S. has popularized the usage of Puglia, the proper English toponym for the geographical district that forms the “heel of Italy’s boot” is Apulia (from the classical Latin Apulia or Appulia).