Italian Wine Dinner / New York


Rocca Giovani – Nebbiolo D’Alba 2019

Zeni Amarone “Barriques” 2015

I recently attended an Italian Wine Dinner at the venerable 103 year old
Monte’s Trattoria in Greenwich Village, New York. The wine dinner was organized by Chef Pietro Mosconi, his sone Peter Mosconi (GM), and representatives of Moinsiuere Touton Wines of New York.

The dinner began with reception at the bar of Monte’s, as we sipped Prosecco (Villa Joland) and ate a tasty assortment of Chef Pietro Mosconi’s h’orduevures, which included : fresh Mozzarella wrapped with Prosciutto di Parma, roast Asparugus Parmigiano, Shrimp Oreganata, and tasty little Meatballs. The crowd, sipped their prosecco and nibbled on Chef Pietro’s little treats, and engaged in spirited conversation before heading to the upstairs dining room, to sit down to 4 courses of Chef Mosconi fare. 

Out came the first course of Baked Clams, Fried Calamari, and baked Eggplant. We were served 
Zeni Lugana to go with the antipasti. Lugana is a lovely white wine from Lake Garda, Italy. The wine zone of Lugana actually is in two regions of Italy, which include both the Veneto on the east side of the zone, and Lombardia to the west. This is a bit unusaual, as wine zone are generally in on region, not two. Lugana is one of the exceptions to the rule. Lugana wines are generally mineral driven, with taste of Green Olives, a tad of salt, pears, grapefruti and green apples. 

The Zeni Lugana lived up to general rules of this lovely wine, exhibiting good minerality, with faint saline notes, Peach and Pinapple fruits on the finsish. It was a good choose for the antipasti, going escpecially well with the Shrimp and Clams, and all items of this first course. 

For the next course, we were treated to some of Chef Pietro’s famous homemade pasta, which in this case was Tagliatelle with fresh shaved Black Truffles. Needless to say, the pasta was devine, and all present savored its sublime flavors of the fresh egg pasta, butter and Tartufo Nero (Black Truffles). The Tagliatelle con Tartufo was paired with a wonderful Nebbiolo from the Rocca Giovani Estate, of Monforte d’ Alba in Piemonte, a premier area for Nebbiolo and great Barolo wines. 

The Rocca Giovanni Nebbiolo was a great wine to pair with the Chef’s Truffle Pasta, as any Nebbiolo based wines, such as; Barolo, Barbaresco, or Nebbiolo D’ Alba such as this wine, Nebbiolo with Truffles (Tartufi) is one of the World’s Greatest of all food and wine pairings, and this was no exception. The Rocca Giovanni Nebbiolo was a a textbook Nebbiolo D’Alba, with a good stron g rubby color, smelling of Violets and Rasberries, and a hint of spice on the nose. The fragrance was quite lovely. In the mouth, the wine was full of Dark Cherry and Strawberry flavors, with a tad of Licorice and other faint spices. This was a classicly made Nebbiolo D’Alba, that made a perfect accompaniment to the Truffles and fresh pasta. “So, good. Thanks Chef Pietro.”

After our tasty truffle pasta with Nebbiolo, we relaxed for a few minutes, chatting about the dinner, the food and wines, and whatever other conversation were occuring around the room.

For the main course, their was a choice of either broiled Salmon, or Chef Pietros famous Braised Short Ribs of Beef with polenta. Now I can not figure for the life of me, why would anyone choose Salmon over the chef’s awesome braised Short Ribs, especially when Amarone was to be served with the main course. “OK, I get it. Yes, I realize there are people who don’t eat meat, thus opting for the salmon. Sorry guys, your loss.” As for me, you know I ordered the Short Ribs. 

And so, a little while after finishing our pasta course, out came the main (secondo) and a gorgeous plate of braised Short Ribs of Beef, with sof polenta was set down in front of me. The wine guys had already poured Amarone into my previously empty wine glass, and it was “Let the games begin.” Yes, they had already begun almost two hours ago, but hey, here I was with my Chef Mosconi made Short Ribs and a glass of Amarone.

Well, I already knew how amazingly succulent and tasty Short Ribs of Beef cooked by Chef Pietro Mosconi are. I have had them dozens of times, and they are without question, one of my favorite things to eat in this whole wide World. And I’ve eaten at all of the great restaurants in the World, including in : Paris, Rome, Venice, New York, Florence, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Saigon, Verona, Havana, San Francisco, New Orleans, and? Need I go on. No, It’s quite hard to think of anything tastier than these tasty Braised Short Ribs. Well, Foe Gras at Polidor, maybe? I don’t know? Kind of close, but I’m goign to have to give the Short Ribs a slight edge. 

Now, I’m eating the Short Ribs, and so you know, just how amazingly great they are? As great as anything could possibly be. Now how about the wine werved with them? The Amarone from the House of Zeni, Bardolino, Italy, on the shores of Lake Garda. Thsi wine is Zeni Amarone “Barriques” 2015 … And what an Amrone it is. From the very first sip, this wine blew my mind. It was phenonminal, and one of the best Amarones I have ever had, including the one that I hold as the greatest Amarone I ever drank, which would be the Zenato Amarone Reserva 1981 vintage that I drank in 2005, when that wine was 24 years old, and perfectly cellared in the cellars of Barbetta Ristorante on 46th Street in New York, NY … 

Now that wine was much older, and you have a different experience with an older aged wine, than with a wine much younger. But all I can say, is that the Zeni Amarone 2015 was a wine that is in perfect balance, super tasty, and a absolute pleasure to drink. “I loved it.”

Now if you know me, you will know that if I say things like, “the wine was perfectly balanced, tasty, and that I loved it.” you will know that the wine in question is a wine that is just about a perfect wine, and I don’t need to go into a bunch blibber blabber, in describing the wine. But in addition to saying it was in perfect balance and that I loved it, I will tell you that it was full of wonderful black fruit taste, with hints of exotic spice, and Desert Dates notes. This wine was a gem, and I can’t wit until I drink it again.

After all that, I’m starting to fade. Chef Pietro treated as to a tasty poached pear with Mint Zabiglione Sauce for dessert. This lovely dessert was paired with a Moscato d’ Asti Santo Stefano 2020 from Ceretto. The Moscato was quite nice, with good acidity to balance the sweetness, and tasty peach and appricot flavors that dominated its wonderful flavor profile. And yes, it paired perfectly with the Poached Pear Zabiglione dessert from Chef Pietro. 

So, the dinner was quite wonderful. A great menu from Chef Mosconi, wonderful wines from 
M. Touton Wines of New York, good friends and conversation in one of the great Italian Restaurants of New York, the 103 year old and still going strong, Monte’s Trattoria, headed by Chef Pietro Mosconi and his son Peter. Thanks guys. We loved it.

… Daniel Bellino Zwicke, October 23, 2021


Zeni LUGANA Vigna Alte


Gaetano Zeni, referred to as Nino by everyone, was the real innovator of the modern era of the winery: a number of small and big changes initiated by him lifted the winery to its level of today. It was Nino who decided to move the production in the 1950s from the small winery in the historic centre of Bardolino to its present location,with more space and improved practicality, in the hills above the village with a spectacular view of Lake Garda. In the new winery he also decided to establish the wine museum to promote the culture and the story of wine growing and wine making. The philosophy of the winery, which was implemented by Gaetano Zeni, is pursued today with the same enthusiasm and dedication by his children Fausto, Elena and Federica and includes in particular the meticulous selection of both vineyards and grapes. The separate vinification of the grapes from the different wine areas is today still one of the fundamentals of the winery, giving the wines local character and high quality. The continuous improvement both in the production processes and in the winery’s management enabled the winery to obtain the UNI EN ISO 9001:2000 quality certification.

Ceretto Moscato di Asti “Santo Stefano” 2020





View From The TOp of Monte Solaro, Capri, Italy
with Faroglionni Rocks below …
copyright 2015 Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
A Classic View
with FARAGLIONI ROCKS in Distance
A Typical Italian Breakfast
My Favorite Lemonade Stand in Italy
Behind the famed Quississana Hotel
Also right by a Wonderful Little Hotel I Used to Stay At,
La TOSCA, a lovely little Hotel with the most Spectacular Views
of Capri and The Faralognni Rocks (most Iconic Symbol of Capri)
The Hotel is lovely and very affordle. I stayed ther in 1988, but stayed
in Anacapri this time at The Hotel Carmencita

Me at My Favorite Restorante in Positano
With My ANtipasto of Polpo al Griglia e Carciofi Fritte
and a Nice Glass of Greco di Tufo local wine …

al Solotaria Restorante, Anacapri
Villa Ruffoli
View From The Terrazza at VILLA MARIA in Minori
LEMON GROVES at Villa Maria, Minor, Italy
World’s BestBreakfast? I Kid You Not!
This was my typical Breakfast (Colazione)
at Villa Maria each of My Three Wonderful  Days There
Vincenzo the owner Makes all types of different Jams
from the fruit he grows on his farmer way up in the hill of
the beautiful little town on The Amalfi Coast .. Villa Maria is
a wonderful little farm/ agroturismo Inn in the town of Minori, 
a cute little town if you want to be on the Amalfi Coast but away from
the madening crowds that overrun the gorgeous little town of Positano.
Vincenzo’s main crop of his farm are Lemons with Olive Tree Groves,
Grapevines, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables, along with Chickens (for
meat & Eggs) and Pigs to make his awesome Homemade Salami. Vincenzo 
makes his own wine, Prosciutto, Pancetta, Coppa, and his tasty
homemade Fruit Jams which you spread on toast & Cornetto ‘s in the
morning for breakfast.
When dinner time comes, Maria (Vincenzo’s wife) makes an awesome 
Four-Course Dinner with; Antipast to start, followed by some awesome pasta or another,
a main-course of fish, meat, or chicken, and ending with either Fruit or a Dessert that Maria makes (I love the Lemon Cake), and some of Vincenzo’s Homemade Lemoncello.
And of course during the meal you’ll get a bottle of either Vincenzo’s own Vino Bianco or
Vino Rosso or both.
Villa Maria is one of the most special places you could ever want to stay at in your life.
It’s a once in a lifetime experience that not many people get a chnace to do, and I reccommend going there most highly, “You will have the time of your life.”
Mixed Seafood Pasta
“The Best Frutta di Mare Ever” !!!
Maria made me this awesome plate of pasta soon after my 
arrival. Vincenzo picked me up down in Minaori at
the wonderful Caffe Riso (Best Caffe & Pastry in Town)
and drove me u to his place (Villa Maria). When we got there
Vincenzo gave me a Lemonade made with his own Lemons. 
Best Lemonade of my life needless-to-say!
After I had my Lemonade and chit-chattted with Vincenzo
Maria & Nadia, I went to my room to take a show and freshen up 
after my trip from Napoli on the Circumvesuviano Train from
Naples to Sorrento, then a bus from Sorrento to Amalfi, and then
another bus from Amalfi to Minori, and finally a ride in Vincenzo’s
little Fiat Panda Station Wagon from Minori by The Sea, up to
Minori in the Mountains below Ravello at Villa Maria.
So after I showered and put on some fresh clothes and went back out
to the terrace (terrazzo) Vincenzo asked me if I wantedd a little pasta?
Hell Yeah!!! Then Vincenzo asked if I wanted some wine. Again, Heck Yeah!
I had his Vino Bianco, and when he brought me the plate of pasta(Paccheri with 
Clams & Mussels) that Maria made me, 
I was in 7th Heaven!
con Vino Bianco Vincenzo
Agroturismo Villa Maria
When Italian-americans Cook
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
When Italian-Americans Cook
Spaghetti con Cozze
Classic Veiw of Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Salumaria De Martino, Capri
Pinnino Buono
Sopresetta e Provola Affumicatto
View From Villa Cimbrone ‘s Terrace of Infinity
Ravello on The Amalfi Coast Italy
All Photos Copyright 2015 Daniel Bellino-Zwicke