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…

Bats! Bats! Bats! And awesome 2001 Inferno

From the “this blew my mind” department…

Last night Tracie B and I were the guests of the lovely LeVieux family, whose daughter-in-law Laura and I grew up together in La Jolla. They live in Austin in a high-rise on Lady Bird Lake (which until recently was called Town Lake and isn’t a lake at all but rather a bend in the Colorado River).

I had heard about the famous Austin bats that emerge every night at dusk but I had never seen them. Wow… bats! bats! bats! They put on quite a show last night — even for those at the dinner party who consider themselves veteran bat spectators.

Watch the videos and you’ll see.

Mrs. LeVieux made her excellent Julia Child osso buco and so I brought a bottle of 2001 Balgera Valtellina Superiore Inferno, which sang in the glass. We’re at the peak of summer temperatures here in Austin and so we served it at cellar temperature. Its tannins were masculine yet gentle, its fruit voluptuous, a fantastic more-mineral-than-earthy expression of Nebbiolo.

The osso buco was tender and fell off the bone and the gelatinous marrow paired superbly with the rich but light-in-the-mouth wine.

Thanks for reading and happy Sunday to everyone!

Angelo Gaja, please call me!

From the “just for fun” department…

I like to call him the Giuseppe Baretti of Italian wine writing: my friend and colleague Franco Ziliani (pictured above holding two bottles of would-be [wood-be] Nebbiolo by Giorgio Rivetti) is one of the Italian wine writers I admire most and the feathers he ruffles with his excellent blog, Vino al Vino, often belong to the princes and princesses of Italian wine.

He reminds me of yet another great Italian writer, a Renaissance master of satire, Pietro Aretino: if anyone deserved to borrow Aretino’s motto flagellum principum (flagellator or flogger of princes) it would be my dear friend Franco.

Franco recently posted the above photo together with a post in which he lampoons a Nebbiolo producer (well, should we call him that? his wines don’t really taste like Nebbiolo at all) who — for Franco and for me — represents everything that is wrong with the world of Italian wine today: Giorgio Rivetti is a “wine wizard” and master of marketing who created wines expressly for the American market with little consideration for the great tradition and great people of the place where he makes wine. (You may remember my post on the Spinetta Affair.)

Not long after he posted the photo and satire, he received a phone call from the “bishop of Barbaresco” (who, incidentally, had recently anointed his disciple Rivetti as a member of a putative “national team” of winemakers who will lead Italy into the world cup of the future). Evidently, messer Gaja has forgotten the meaning of irony and satire — notions and literary figures cherished by the ancients and rediscovered during the renewal of learning and then again in the age of enlightenment.

This week, my partner Alfonso Cevola (aka Starsky) and I had some fun with it: Angelo, please call me!

In other news…

Yesterday, Franco sent me this photo, snapped in Maroggia, at the foot of the alps in the Valtellina, where Nebbiolo finds one of its finest expressions.

I moved to Texas for one very special lady only to discover there’s a little bit of Texas in everyone… Thanks, Franco!