About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lunch at SD26

San Domenico Ristorante on Central Park South was for 20 years considered one of NYC’s premier restaurants.  Under the direction of owner Tony May, one of the nation’s most respected restaurateurs, it was one of the cities hardest tables to obtain a reservation at.  I, however, was not a big fan of the restaurant.  It was a bit stuffy and formal for my taste.  Thus I was a bit skeptical when my friend Gabrio Tosti, owner of DeVino Wine Boutique, suggested we have lunch at SD26, the new iteration of San Domenico on East 26th St.  As I have a great respect for Gabrio's knowledge of restaurants and wine, along with friends Emil and Alan, I went their for lunch last week.  We were simply awed by the food.

NV Ca' del Bosco
The restaurant itself is chic, energetic and warmly inviting with a magnificent open kitchen under the direction of executive chef Matteo Bergamini (32 years young) who hails from Lake Garda, Italy.  Gabrio suggested that we put ourselves in the very capable and lovely hands of Marisa May, who along with her father Tony runs the house.   It was yet another great suggestion as Marisa orchestrated a meal that was the equal to the musical orchestral direction of the great Arturo Toscanini.  Gabrio, who consented to being sommelier for our lunch, started us with a perfectly chilled NV Ca' del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvée Prestige Brut, a wonderful entry-level sparkler from Franciacorta, Italy with a creamy richness that was oh so easy and delicious to drink.   I have enjoyed the wines of Ca del Bosco for years.  I find them to be delicious and very reasonably priced. This one should be widely available at about $32.

Marisa started us with Vignarola, a Roman Spring Vegetable Stew with White Wine and Shavings of Pecorino Romano.   A bit of research told me that this dish is only available for a few short weeks in April.  It was a wonderful combination of artichokes, fava beans & peas in a light brodo that whispered to me, “you are in for an incredible lunch.”

Menaica Anchovy Bruschetta
Tuna Duo
Incredible it was as Marisa next presented us with 4 magnificent appetizers to share.  The flavors and textures of each soared on the palate, beginning with Menaica Anchovy Fillets with Herb Cured Lardo on Bruschetta; This is bruschetta on steroids.  I must admit that while lardo may push your cholesterol limits, on occasions such as this one it would be a sin not to indulge.

Duo of Tuna: Carpaccio alla Pizzaiola: Green Olives & Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette; Tartare with Fresh English Peas & Smoked Sea Salt. What a remarkable combination.  The tuna was pristinely fresh and the pairing was a match made in the depths of the sea.
Grilled Octopus

Diver Scallops
Grilled Baby Octopus over Cicerchie (wild Chick Peas) Puree, Sun-dried Tomato & Rosemary Gremolata.  Fork tender, briny and delicious, the octopus melted in your mouth and threw a party for your taste buds.

Seared Diver Sea Scallops with Purple Potatoes, Sugar Snap Peas & Prosciutto Crisps.  Cooked to perfection this is a dish I could easily indulge in daily.

With these appetizers Gabrio selected 2009 Colterenzio Schreckbichl Blauburgunder Riserva St. Daniel Pinot Noir.  This was a delicious Pinot Noir from the Alto Adige region of Italy.  The unmistakeable feminine character of the wine reminded me of a good Villages level Burgundy.  It had an enticing earthy bouquet, pure fruit and a soft finish.  A wine to be drunk young and enjoyed.  A bargain at $20.

"Uovo" Raviol
Okay what follows appetizers at an Italian restaurant?  Pasta of course. Once again Marisa captivated us with 4 pastas from talented chef Matteo, including San Domenico's signature “Uovo” Soft Egg Yolk Filled Raviolo with Truffled Butter.  I will make no attempt to describe this remarkable dish, you simply have to taste it to experience it.

On a smaller scale were ethereal Sea Urchin filled Ravioli with Sauteed Piennolo Tomatoes and Fresh Peperoncino.  These tiny pillows of homemade pasta transported me back to Sicily where I first had sea urchin with pasta.

Linguine di Gragnan
The Linguine di Gragnano with Clams, Grape Tomatoes & Parsley, Smoked with Applewood took linguine with clam sauce to new heights as the flavor exploded with each al dente forkful.

For the final pasta we returned to land with an awesome Fettuccine with Wild Boar Ragu’ in Agrodolce Pickled Raisins & Cocoa Nibs.  Sublime.

Marchesi Di Gresy

I would have been a happy camper if we stopped here but the unsinkable Marisa May was by no means through.  Two main course tasters were arriving at the table.  Sautéed Veal Loin “Bergese”; Cipolline Onions and Asparagus with a Smoked Pancetta Cream Sauce and Barolo Wine Braised Beef Cheeks with Cardamom – Carrot Puree, Spring Onion & Grilled Polenta.  OMG!  These plates sung with pure flavors derived from great ingredients cooked simply.  The veal may have been the best piece I have yet to taste.  Along with these great entrees, Gabrio selected a 2008 Marchesi Di Gresy Barbaresco Martinenga.   While still young the wine had great fruit and balance and drank very well at this young age and will for many years to come.  $46.

Despite my cries of "uncle" Marisa presented us with 4 decadent and delicious desserts to conclude our meal.   They included Tiramisu with Espresso Sauce; Pannacotta with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction & Strawberries; Extra Bitter Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Gelato and, my favorite, Babà au Rhum with Whipped Cream and Orange Sauce.  Gabrio selected a bottle of Colutta Verduzzo Friulano Colli Orientali DOC from Friuli Vezezia Giulia.  Made from 100% Verduzzo grapes this was a fruity & delicious sweet white wine with undertones of apples and pears.  It went perfect with our dolci and espresso.

It was truly a great lunch and I hope to return to SD26 soon.



  1. You made me hungry again just from reading, I can't wait to go back as well :)