Cantele at Coppa, one of Boston’s sexiest

best italian restaurant boston

Above: for some, in-house charcuterie is a novelty. For others, like Chef Jamie Bissonette, it’s a necessity… a way of life… (image via the Coppa Facebook).

Boston-based Chef Jamie Bissonette “is not afraid to challenge diners’ palates with the daring nose-to-tail cooking (including calf’s-brain ravioli and blood-sausage pepperoni on pizza) at his intimate enoteca,” Coppa in Boston, wrote the editors of Food & Wine when their readers awarded him with the “Best New Chef” award in 2011.

Jamie and his partner Ken Oringer just got a rave review from New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells for their newest outpost in Manhattan.

And Coppa in Boston continues to stand apart as a charcuterie salumeria pioneer.

We are proud to report that Coppa is currently serving Cantele Negroamaro Rosé by the glass.

Cantele by-the-glass downtown Manhattan at Forcella

best pizzeria downtown manhattan

Above: Conceived by Neapolitan-born Giulio Adriani, Forcella quickly became a New York City standby for authentic Naples pizza.

“With only an oven,” wrote the editors of the New York Times in their review of Forcella, “Giulio Adriani established his reputation as a pizzaiolo in Italy and at Olio Pizza e Più in Greenwich Village. Now, at Forcella, Mr. Adriani has a fryer, too. With it, he creates his montanara pizza, a margherita with a crust flash-fried before being finished in a wood-burning oven.”

In a city that invented the “pizza wars” and where authentic Neapolitan pizza has been trending non-stop since 2007, Adriani’s accomplishment is no small feat.

The restaurant serves a number of classic Neapolitan pizzas together with downtown Italian-style comfort food (arancini, anyone, after a night of clubbing?).

A new Manhattan downtown classic, where Cantele Salice Salentino is served by the glass.

Cantele at Fritti, Atlanta’s hippest pizzeria

best pizza atlanta georgia

We still haven’t made it down to Atlanta to check out the city’s hottest pizzeria, Fritti, where restaurateur Riccardo Ullio makes genuine pizza napoletana.

We’ll have to add it to the Rolling Thunder Cantele USA 2014 tour for sure!

In the meantime, if you happen to be down south, you’ll find Cantele Rosato di Negroamaro and Cantele Salice Salentino by the glass at Riccardo’s excellent restaurant.

Fritti
309 North Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA ‎
(404) 880-9559
Google map

best wine list atlanta georgia

Images via the Fritti Facebook.

Spinasse in Seattle, above the gourmet fray with its thoughtful cooking

The last post from the Rolling Thunder Cantele USA Tour 2013…

stuffed onions

Above: The Cipollini con Pancetta, spring onions stuffed with slowly braised pork, were among the best things we ate on the tour.

You really don’t need us to tell you how great the food is at Spinasse in Seattle, where Chef Jason Stratton (winner of the 2010 Food & Wine magazine “best new chef” award) continues to rack up the glowing accolades from local and national press alike.

This dude is so good at what he does — and so is his front of house — that he can’t even get a bad Yelp review, for crying out loud!

tagliarini

Above: The restaurant’s signature dish, classic Piedmontese Tagliarini with Sage, fired on every cylinder. Simply pefect…

By the time Paolo and I got to Spinasse on the last day of the Rolling Thunder Cantele USA Tour 2013 — eight cities in nine days — we had already had some pretty spectacular meals.

But Chef Jason’s wholesome, authentic cooking was just the thing we needed to cure our palate fatigue.

This restaurant literally has everything going for it. And it’s even got hipster location in the heart of the über-cool Capitol Hill district.

pollo marengo

Above: Chicken Marengo, taken from a page out of one of Italy’s great cookery books, “The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well” by 19th-century gastronome Pellegrino Artusi.

But with all of its great food and grooviness, the thing that really got me about Spinasse was what a thoughtful restaurant it was.

This was not a willy nilly hodge podge of pan-Italian cooking. No, it was a well-balanced menu inspired by the great cuisine of northwestern Italy.

As much as I loved the cipollini and tagliarini (above), it was the Chicken Marengo, based on the historic recipe by Pellegrino Artusi, that really blew me away.

The chicken fell right off the bone and was juicy and tender. And you could taste the stock in the sauce without it being over salty.

But it was the fact that this dish was included at all that really struck me. It was utterly delicious AND it revealed that the team behind Spinasse has a deep understanding of Italian culinary tradition and its past, present, and future greatness.

I really loved this place… even after a week of eating at some of the other “best” restaurants in the U.S.

Chef Stratton and team: chapeau bas! I really loved your restaurant. Grazie…

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

Shelley Lindgren: paying homage to the woman who started it all

shelley lindgren

Above: On the second-to-last night of our recent Rolling Thunder Cantele USA 2013 Tour, Paolo and I managed to snag a table at Shelley Lindgren’s SPQR, her impossible-to-get-a-reservation Roman-inspired restaurant in San Francisco. That’s Paolo (right) with Shelley. They first met when Shelley was traveling through Southern Italy doing research for her book on Southern Italian wine.

Before there was Shelley Lindgren, no one thought it could be done: her all-Southern Italian wine list, which debuted at A16 when it opened in San Francisco in 2004, changed the way the wine world perceived Italian wines from Rome southward.

As legendary New York restaurateur Joe Bastianich put it in the jacket quote for the restaurant’s recipe and wine book (published in 2008), “Shelley Lindgren’s pioneering wine program at A16 has single-handedly brought recognition to the indigenous grapes of the Mezzogiorno.”

Until that time, Southern Italian wine was relegated to the “curiosity” and “misfits” pages of the great Italian wine lists. Yes, there were exceptions to this general rule. But for the most part, Southern Italian wines were considered — erroneously — as second-tier, “value” wines, not to be confused with the great wines of Italy.

When her all-Southern Italian list debuted in 2004, at the peak of the Italian wine and food renaissance in the U.S., it stunned the fine dining crowd with its breadth and its scope (I’ll never forget having a 1992 Gaglioppo there when I first visited in 2008).

Today, from Avellino to Lecce, from Vittoria to Vulture, Southern Italian winemakers and wine lovers all owe her an inestimable debt for having introduced a generation of Americans to the virtues of Southern Italian wine.

I, for one, could have never written my list at Sotto in Los Angeles, also 100% Southern Italian, a collection of wines that debuted in 2011. Thanks to Shelley, so many California importers began bringing in wines from Southern Italy and by the time that I got to the game, she had done all the heavy lifting for me by nudging importers to seek out and bring the wines to the U.S.

Thank you, Shelley, for your pioneering spirit, your superb wine knowledge, and for being one of the nicest people I have ever met in the fine wine and food trade.

We had a great meal and a great time at your restaurant.

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

A wild and crazy night at the wonderful Sotto in Los Angeles

mai pham

Above, from left: Paolo Cantele, Forbes travel writer Mai Pham (my super good friend from Houston who was in town celebrating her birthday with friends), and Jeremy Parzen (me) at the popular southern Italian restaurant Sotto in Los Angeles, where Cantele’s wines have been on the list and by the glass since the restaurant opened nearly three years ago.

It was a wild and crazy night at Sotto last Friday, November 1.

After arriving at LAX five hours late (a delay sadly due to the shooting there), Paolo rushed over to the restaurant from the airport to lead his guided tasting with guests.

I headed rental car agency and after waiting for nearly an hour and a half, I boogied over to the restaurant as quick as I could, arriving roughly halfway through.

Despite the hassle of our delayed flight (and missing our afternoon in Los Angeles where we had a number of meetings planned for Paolo), I was thrilled to present him and the wines: ever since we opened the restaurant — where I co-author the wine list — nearly three years ago, Paolo’s family’s wines have been featured on the list.

So it was a great experience for me to get to present my good friend and the wines I love so much to a sold-out crowd on the patio.

paolo cantele sotto los angeles

I’d like to thank all the guests, who were so patient with our late arrival. After waiting on the ground in Austin for more than six hours, it was such a pleasure for us to be received by such a great crowd.

And I’d also like to thank my partner Rory, with whom I co-author the list, and general manager Caitlin for keeping everything together even though we were running so late.

As crazy and hectic as everything was that night, we had a great evening and a great dinner at the restaurant.

No matter what the logistics, it all comes down to great food, great wines, and genuine hospitality. And Sotto has all three… in spades… I’m so proud to be part of the team there.

There are many Mezze Lune but only one in Half Moon Bay

half moon bay restaurants

Above: Many would argue that the view from Half Moon Bay on old Hwy. 1 in Northern California is one of the most beautiful along the west coast of the U.S. (image by Meg Lauber).

Mezza Luna
459 Prospect Way
Half Moon Bay, CA ‎
(650) 728-8108
click for Google map

There are many Italian restaurants in the U.S. called Mezza Luna. It’s probably the most popular name for Italian restaurants in America and there seems to be one in every major U.S. city.

But there’s only one Mezza Luna (“Half Moon”) in Half Moon Bay, California, one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

Chef José Marquez, together with partners Giovanni Marzocca and Roberto Pugliese, have been bringing authentic Italian cuisine to this picturesque town since 1993 when they first opened Mezza Luna.

Scrolling through the restaurant’s Facebook, you discover that the food is almost as beautiful as the view and that Chef José bases his menu on gastronomic authenticity and the unrivaled high quality of ingredients that you find in California.

And clicking through the website, you discover that Chef José, Giovanni, and Roberto serve Cantele 2009 Salice Salentino…

Buon appetito!