I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to the International Culinary Experience highlighting Sicily and featuring Zonin Wine House and Aroma Kitchen & Winebar. Wine and Italian food?! I was in heaven!
We were lucky to have the Zonin team to give detailed explanations about the variety of wines we were going to taste along with Chef Vito Polosa, the owner/chef/sommelier of Aroma (he’s the one in the middle with the apron). Zonin is a family owned business and has been that way since its creation in 1821. They own a variety of vineyards throughout Italy each one focusing on the best indigenous grapes of the region. Aroma is owned by Chef Vito, an Italian by birth, who is mostly influenced by Southern Italian cuisine. His restaurant was voted one of the 2012 Top 10 Wine Bars in the city as well as New York’s Sexiest Wine List, and you’ll find over 150 wines on his menu.
This was such a great experience, and I learned so much about Sicilian wines and Zonin wine house, specifically Feudo Principi di Butera their vineyard in southern Sicily. I have always loved school, and this really reminded me of a classroom setting only it was way better because of the food and wine!
You can see the menu below highlighting some fantastic Sicilian cuisine expertly paired with the Feudo Principi di Butera wines.
We started off the evening with the Zonin Prosecco, as our hosts told us, you can have Prosecco at the start of the day and at the end of the day. It’s a very versatile wine with a nice effervescence, light, floral but also a bit dry. I loved this one! The Prosecco was paired with our first course, the crostino with mussels and lardo. The mussels were from Prince Edward Island and the lardo came directly from Italy. I liked the crunchy bread with the soft mussel and salty lardo, but unfortunately it had gotten a little cold.
Next came the Feudo Principi di Butera (F.P.D.B.) Insolia 2012, which is a typical wine from Sicily. It also happens to be their top seller. It gets its minerality from the soil, high altitude and high temperatures. It’s fresh and sweet with hints of lime and citrus but with a dry finish. It pairs best with fish, a light white meat, or a light pasta. I really liked this one!
Our next course was the Tartara of New Bedford Sea Scallops, and I loved the presentation, it was almost too beautiful to eat! The scallops were sweet and very tender, it was very much a scallop ceviche, with the fresh vegetables and guacamole in layers. Though this was not a typical Italian dish, it was delicious.
Next came the F.P.D.B. Chardonnay 2012 which was much creamier and full bodied than the Insolia with a vanilla finish. Now typically I am not a fan of Chardonnay at all, and yet I found this one to be low in acidity and actually really enjoyed it. It was recommended to be paired with white meats or pastas. Chef Vito paired it with the Braised Octopus with fennel and grapefruit. This dish truly reminded me of a Sicilian specialty, the super tender octopus with the crunchy fennel, salty olives and tangy grapefruit made for a perfectly refreshing summer salad.
And now we move on to the reds – our first was the F.P.D.B Nero D’Avola 2011and this was one of my favorites. It is high on alcohol with moderate tannins with earthy as well as fruity notes. The Nero D’Avola is the most important grape in Sicily, and pairs best with grilled meats or meatier fish like swordfish. Here it was paired with my favorite dish of the evening, the Bucatini with Sardines. (Ok we all knew I would pick the pasta as my favorite!) It was very unique and unlike any pasta dish I have ever had. The sardine was grilled and placed on the bottom of the plate, and the al dente bucatini were served on top with pinenuts, raisins, and breadcrumbs. The salty sardine flavors on the bottom permeated the rest of the dish beautifully and left a lingering taste in your mouth. Bravo!
Our next red was the F.P.D.B Deliella 2008 which is a more full bodied red wine that really packs a punch. It’s part of their riserva collection on the higher end, made of older vines with smokey flavors from the wood and a vanilla coating. This was a very rich wine, and we were all surprised that it was paired with the Grilled Swordfish. When it was served, the Chef actually asked us what was the star of the pairing and in fact it was the wine. The swordfish was rather mild and easily overpowered by the boldness of the Deliella.
Finally on to the dessert wine!
I loved the vibrant red color of the Castello Del Poggio Rosato, it was a sparkling sweet rosè, a mixture of moscato and pinot noir. The rosato was young and fresh and high in acidity, a perfect match for the dessert, Bronte Pistacchio three ways. I really enjoyed the dessert, I thought it was very clever to use the pistacchio in three variations as it is so popular in Sicilian cuisine. The pistacchio creme brulee had a nice sear to it, but the cream part seemed under cooked. The pistacchio cookie was nice and crunchy and not too sweet. My favorite was the pistacchio gelato with the crispy caramel, the pistacchio flavors really shone through and the gelato was rich and creamy.
What a great experience I had with Zonin Wine House and Aroma Kitchen & Winebar! I thought the wines were spectacular, and I will definitely be looking out for them next time I go wine shopping. Chef Vito did a great job featuring his restaurant, and I will have to go pay him a visit to see what it’s like to explore his other southern Italian specialties.
Wine Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Food Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Casa Vinicola Zonin | www.zoninusa.com
Aroma Kitchen & Winebar | www.aromanyc.com | 36 E. 4th Street