I had dinner with my friend Clark Mitchell, from Travel + Leisure, at Aroma Kitchen & Winebar. The East Village restaurant is run by career-changer Alexandra Degiorgio and her boyfriend, Vito Polosa. Alexandra's been in New York for a decade, but she was raised in Australia and is originally from Malta. Previously in "computers and banking," she says running a restaurant is the hardest job she's ever had. Well, yes.
Vito comes from an olive-oil producing family in Potenza, the main city in Italy's Basilicata region, the instep of the great Italian boot. He described the mostly inland region as "Byzantine," and he didn't mean confusing and bureaucratic.
He's in charge of the wine list, which is all Italian and mostly small producers using indigenous Italian grapes. He's really into it.
Chef Chris Daly sent out a massive tasting, and the final, fruit-and-cheese course was brought out by the sous chef and pastry chef, Shawn Darling, who addressed me as "Mr. Thorn." There's something I like about that.
What I ate and drank:
House olives with rosemary-infused olive oil
Sunchokes, squash and beets in artichoke vinaigrette.
Sparkling white wine from Veneto: Non-vintage Valdobbiadene Silvano Follader Prosecco
Cavateli bolognese with veal ragu
Red wine from Basilicata: Eubea Aglianico del Vultura
Lobster broth with foie gras ravioli and shrimp
Sparkling red wine from Lombardy: Negri Gelsomina Lambrusco Mantovane
Crispy-skinned Chatham cod with fennel, oranges and olives
White wine from Friuli: Gradis'ciutto Bratinis, which uses Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Tokay grapes as well as Ribola Gialla
Veal shoulder in its own juice with Val Grana Gnocchi
Red wine from Le Marche: Il Morellone, a blend of Sangiovese and Montapulciano
Braised duck salad with diced pancetta, balsamic dressing and a poached egg.
Red wine from Umbria: Montefalco Rosso, a blend of Sangiovese, Sagrentino, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chocolate cake with creme fraiche, walnut-peanut butter pesto and peanut praline
New York-style cheesecake with dried cherries and cherry syrup
Dessert wines: Sicilian Marsala and Pacinto Sagrentino