Why not indeed? And so it was this past week, I flew to Cleveland, where it was 20 degrees cooler than Dallas. That was a bonus right off. And all in the course of a week’s worth of work, making the world safe for Italian wine.
|La Fiorita's Natalie Oliveros and Matt Mars open wines|
What are two Italian-Americans doing running a French dining spot in the suburbs of Cleveland? How did any of us get here? The reality is, 30 years ago, French cooking was at the top, and all the rest, in America, placed a distant second. That’s just the way it was. Or that’s the way many positioned themselves. But they slipped their influences in, whether it was Italian or Spanish, or Greek. And as things progressed, as we all can see now, French food made room for the others, if not by abdication then by evolution.
|Chef John D'Amico|
The wines ranged from an aperitif wine from Friuli (Joe Bastianich’s bisexual rosé) to a trio of whites, A Pecorino from the Marche, a Pinot Bianco from Alto-Adige and a Vermentino from Sardegna. Followed by a trio of Tuscan reds from Tolaini estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga and a Vino Nobile. After which a duo of Tuscan reds, a Toscana Rosso and a Brunello 2007 from La Fiorita. Owner Natalie Oliveros was in for the dinner and she brought with her some 2004 and 2001 Brunello for this well-healed crowd of wine lovers and collectors.
If you ever find yourself in Cleveland, make a note to get a reservation and take the 45 minute drive to Vermilion (bring a jacket if you want to get in). It is a treasure spot for the rise of food and wine in America and D’Amico and Mars, by virtue of their commitment and showing up, day after day, in a business that is damn hard on the feet and the knees (and marriages) have been rock steady – call if French, call it Continental, call it whatever you like – when you eat the food you’ll know where the inspiration came from. Two Italian-Americans pursuing a dream, some call it the American dream. Call it what you want – I call it transformational.
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