New York City:
A Voce Columbus
Restaurant offshoots don't tend to get buzz, but the second A Voce
has generated as much as the first did. "I never expected we'd get this
much attention," says chef Missy Robbins. Credit the incredible view,
new dishes like pancetta with pork belly and figs, and bottles like the
2006 Ornellaia Le Volte ($58) on wine director Olivier Flosse's impossibly deep list.
Owner Danny Meyer led Gramercy Tavern alum Nick Anderer on an epic five-meal-a-day tour of Rome to research dishes like malfatti al maialino
(suckling-pig ragù with hand-torn pasta and arugula). The
almost-exclusively Italian wine list includes finds like the earthy
2001 Bovio Barbera d'Alba Regiaveja ($52).
Marc Vetri (an F&W Best New Chef 1999)
is a master of sophisticated Italian, but lately, he's been skewing
casual. His newest place, Amis, specializes in Roman comfort food.
Vetri got the idea during a meal at Rome's La Matriciana restaurant: "I
was floored by the simplicity of the flavors," he says. Amis's
industrial-chic space doesn't look like a trattoria, but dishes like
the gnocchi alla romana with oxtail ragù convey an
authentically rustic feeling. The succinct wine list has just two dozen
Italian bottles, and all are available by the glass, like the minerally
2008 Bonci Carpaneto Verdicchio ($44), which reminds sommelier Jeff Benjamin of the Adriatic Coast.
Bar La Grassa
Chef Isaac Becker of 112 Eatery opened his latest place in part so
he could cook pasta every which way: "Dry and fresh pastas both have
their merits. I get to showcase them side by side." Becker uses dry
Rustichella d'Abruzzo pasta for dishes like his rigatoni with
milk-braised chicken and makes fresh pasta handkerchiefs to serve in a
pesto sauce with whole basil leaves. The wine list covers the globe but
is strong on Italy, as evidenced by bottles like the 2007 Elio Perrone
Sourgal Moscato d'Asti ($36) from up-and-coming winemaker Stefano Perrone.
Tony's Pizza Napoletana
Tony Gemignani won the Naples World Pizza Cup, earning him true
pizza cred. His new restaurant, which is connected to a school that
helps prospective pizzaiolos get certified by the Scuola
Italiana Pizzaioli, churns out pies from three different types of
ovens—wood-burning, electric brick and gas brick. Each day, Gemignani
makes exactly 73 of the Margherita that won him the cup, as well as
California-style pizzas with jalapeños and hot sauce and New York pies
covered with sausage and peppers. Wines come from Napa and Italy, with
picks like the cherry-inflected 2007 Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria ($42) from Sicily.
Alon Shaya, formerly of Besh Steak, partnered with F&W Best New
Chef 1999 John Besh on this homey Italian restaurant in the Roosevelt
Hotel. Shaya worked in kitchens around Italy for a year to develop the
menu, which includes house specialties like limoncello, salumi
and pasta. Then there are the pizzas, made in a Pavesi wood-fired oven
with a rotating stone deck. "Ours is new and the only one of its kind
in America," Shaya says. He uses pecan wood in the Pavesi for pizzas
like his cotechino, topped with oven-dried tomatoes,
scallions and pork sausage. Matching the food is an all-Italian wine
list with well-priced bottles like the delicate 2007 Inama Vin Soave ($40).
Local foodies rarely travel downtown, but the new Wit Hotel is
actually drawing them in with the recently launched Cibo Matto. Chicago
native Todd Stein uses local products like Lake Superior whitefish,
which he serves with saffron-scented fregola and crispy
parsnips. The restaurant's airy design by the Johnson Studio, which
also did TRU restaurant, includes a 4,000-bottle glass tower. The wine
list is seasonal, with more whites in the summer and a red-heavy lineup
in the winter, and bottles like the 2008 Grosjean Frères Pinot Noir ($59) from a family winery in the Italian Alps.
What do Texas and Tuscany have in common? "Big, bold flavors," says
Bryan Caswell (an F&W Best New Chef 2009). At Stella Sola,
Caswell's chef de cuisine, Justin Basye, creates hybrid dishes like
bucatini carbonara with Gulf crab, as well as wood-roasted mussels with
salsa verde; wines include Italian standouts like the hard-to-find 2008
Vietti Roero Arneis ($30).