Sometimes a traditional vacation is not in the cards, but who says you need to leave town to have exciting new experiences? Wine, in it’s own way, is a time capsule with the ability to transport its drinker to another time and place. So to break up the winter routine, The Traveling Sommelier (aka staff members Lisa, Chris and Pauline) set out to find some of the best food and wine lists in town, starting with…
Nick and Toni’s: The calm winter bar atmosphere at Nick and Toni’s proved to be a perfect venue to begin unwinding and enjoying. The wine-by-the-glass and ½ bottle list is extensive and includes an interesting and crowd-pleasing range of delicious wines from around the world. Without even leaving the bar seat, The Traveling Sommelier was able to visit different parts of the US and Europe!
Wines by the glass are like a preamble to the wine list, so, we decided to start off the evening with a few wines by the glass. A sancerre, Roger Champault ‘Les Pierris’ from 2014 smelled and tasted exactly like a sancerre should, proving Nick and Toni’s has a respectable wine list, and instilling faith in the idea that the rest of the wines would be just as appealing. The 2014 Moreau- Naudet chablis from Burgundy did not disappoint. Both of these wines paired beautifully with local peconic oysters on the half shell from the North Fork. Less than 4 hours old, they were incredibly fresh and delicious.
Up next were the zucchini chips, a staple of Nick and Toni’s bar food. Perfectly crisped, they complemented a half bottle of Tablas Creek’s Espirit de Beaucastel 2010, from Paso Robles in Central California. The vines, which were propagated from budwood cuttings from the Château de Beaucastel estate in france, were quarantined for seven years upon arrival, but now produce great wines. The blend of fig and almond flavors with great acidity and rich lanolin, are a match made in heaven. The acid cut the fat and oil of the chips perfectly, making each bite a crunchy and fresh experience.
A cheese plate featuring three artisanal cheeses, house-made jam, Nick & Toni’s own garden honey, and small crostini, played with flavors and textures in all the right ways. All three cheeses were delicious, however; a delicious and semisoft oma from the Von Trapp farm stole the show. These cheeses did not pair as well with the Tablas Creek, changing the flavor to be slightly less enjoyable. However, the Loibner Weingut Knoll Gruner Veltliner 2014 (which did not blow us away with the previous antipasti) transformed beautifully when paired with the cheeses. The flavors rounded out, and the wine went from palatable to divine, with acidity that popped the flavors of each cheese. The Roger Champault Sancerre also made a comeback here, with another perfect pairing.
Next came bruschetta with wild North Fork shiitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms, and topped with fontina cheese. A hint of truffle oil made it truly decadent while the perfectly charred crusty bread further elevated the dish. Paired perfectly with the Tablas Creek, as the deep and rich flavors mellowed out the wine.
Pizza and Primi-
This is the point where we decided that it was time for a change of pace and switched to ‘Les Voisins’ 2011 Copain Syrah from the Yorkville Highlands. With hints of raspberries and black pepper, the wine was elegant and feminine. From a cooler, northern California climate, this wine paired perfectly with both the pizza and pasta dishes that follow.
The ‘Gamberi’ pizza, boasting rock shrimp, marinated artichoke, sun dried tomato, and shaved pecorino romano was truly satisfying. The crust was both super thin and crispy and the toppings played with intense pops of flavor. Clearly, the mosaic pizza oven in the back, is masterfully used as well as a beautiful decoration. Overall, it was a really fun pizza experience.
The pasta came next; hand-cut pappardelle with local oyster mushrooms, baby spinach and last but not least, walnuts.
The pappardelle was perfectly al dente, thick, and delicious, they held onto the flavored sauce perfectly. The combinations of texture from the walnuts made it a pleasure to eat. It was delicious, but, hey we Park Place sommeliers do have a weakness for pappardelle…
Stuffed and content, it was time for the final part of the meal. Dessert. The chablis was not just a perfect appetizer wine, it also made a comeback when it managed to playfully interact with their warm, fried donuts and passion fruit curd. Here the chablis’ steeliness cut the chubbiness and decadence of the desert.
By the time the bill rolled around, the question “and how was everything tonight?” was met with a chorus of delicious, amazing, and outstanding. The endlessly entertaining bartender, Kevin, playfully joked with us the whole time, resulting in a night that could truly be considered, a getaway.
Our Prefered Wine Selections from Nick & Toni’s Wine List
Lisa’s wine picks:
Muller Thurgau Kofererhof (Alto Adige) $55
Gruner Veltliner ‘Liebedich’ Veyder- Malberg (Wachau) 2014 $69
Cornas ‘Chaillot’ Franck Balthazar 2012 $120
Sagrantino di Montefalco Arnaldo Caprai (Umbria) 2008 $120
Chris’s wine picks:
Malbec ‘Amorio’ Tikal (Mendoza) 2012 $75
Chateau La Grande Roche (Napa) 2013 $95
Meursault Domaine Roulot 2011 $240
Riesling Spatlese ‘Schloss Felsen’ Donnhoff (Rheingau) 2005 $125
Pauline’s wine picks:
Knez (Anderson Valley) Pinot Noir 2013 $70
Fleurie ‘Clos de la Grand Cour’ Jean-Louis Dutraive 2014 $68
Half Bottle of Billiecart- Salmon Rose NV $96
Blanc de Blancs Shramsberg (Napa) 2010 $90
Lisa Schock: Certified Sommelier, Wine Buyer
Chris Miller: Wine Educator, Certified Sommelier, Wine Consultant
Pauline Fink: Social Media Specialist, Professional Amateur Wine Taster
–Mosaic Pizza Oven photo courtesy of hauteliving.com