Updated: August 31, 2016
For many, food and wine mean family time, whether that's preparing a meal together in the kitchen, dining out for a special occasion, treasuring a recipe passed down through generations or enjoying a glass at the end of the day. But for restaurants that are also family-owned businesses, that connection takes on an even deeper meaning. Here are nine dining destinations that are the life's work and pride of a family—be it husband and wife, brother and sister, one generation or multiple. In addition, all have been a part of the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards family for a decade or more.
This is only a partial guide to family-style ownership. Others with great lists have appeared in past restaurant guides: Acquerello in San Francisco, Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Fla., Bleu Provence in Naples, Fla., Canlis in Seattle, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas and Houston, and Rustico Ristorante in Telluride, Colo.
Do you have a favorite family-owned restaurant you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org—we want to hear from you!
6316 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Telephone (561) 585-3128
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
In 1996, following his father’s death, Marcello Fiorentino was helping out in the dining room of his parents' Italian restaurant in West Palm Beach when he realized the wine program’s potential for growth. At that time, the wine list he inherited offered just 12 reds and 12 whites; today, the list at Marcello’s La Sirena has 1,250 selections, including 50 choices under $50. While Marcello captains the cellar and kitchen, his wife, Diane, is the general manager, and the two co-own the Florida institution, which earned its first Restaurant Award in 1999 and its first Grand Award in 2015 for its strengths in classic Italian regions like Tuscany and Piedmont, as well as California and Bordeaux.
Brothers Tony and Mario Amaro opened Opus Restaurant On Prince Arthur in 1992 in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighborhood with the goal of making it a wine lover’s destination. It’s safe to say they achieved their vision: With a list ambitious from the start, the restaurant earned its first Best of Award of Excellence in 1996 and its first Grand Award in 2002. Today, diners can choose from 2,100 selections backed by an inventory of over 50,000 bottles, with strengths in France, Tuscany and California, as well as an impressive Port collection and a page devoted to local Ontario producers, to pair with chef Jason Cox’s continental cuisine.
From husband-and-wife chef-and-wine director team Steve and Michelle Corry, Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, boasts the city’s most expansive Restaurant Award–winning wine list. Curated by Michelle, the 400-bottle-plus list earned the establishment its first Restaurant Award in 2004 and its first Best of Award of Excellence in 2015, with moderately priced strengths in California and France. When it comes to food-and-wine pairings, chef Steve’s contemporary cuisine opens up a bevy of possibilities, with dishes such as Bangs Island mussels and seared New England scallops.
Owned by the Knowles family in West Orange, N.J., Best of Award of Excellence winner the Manor has been earning Restaurant Awards every consecutive year since 1986. Its origins, however, go back much earlier: Founder Harry Knowles first opened the restaurant in the 1950s as the supper club Bow & Arrow Manor before transforming it into the fine dining establishment it is today. Now, the iconic list is managed by wine director Michael Cammarano and offers 770 selections, with a focus on California, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Italy.
Inspired by the rugged natural beauty of Tofino—a small peninsula in British Columbia with sandy beaches, lakes and a wild rainforest—Howard McDiarmid helped establish the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in 1971. With its opening, the original Wickaninnish Inn was converted into the park’s marine interpretive center, sparking McDiarmid’s vision of building a modern hotel at the site. In 1996, the McDiarmid family helped bring this dream to reality, opening the Wickaninnish Inn and the Pointe Restaurant, which has earned Restaurant Awards every year since 2002 and a Best of Award Excellence since 2007. Sommelier Ike Seaman’s 630-selection list continues the McDiarmid legacy of championing local producers, shining a spotlight on Canadian wines, as well as California and France.
Owned by the Fitzpatrick family since 1968, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass., is now led by Nancy Fitzpatrick, the establishment’s second generation of ownership. With a rich history spanning back to the late 18th century, the restaurant earned its first Award of Excellence in 1999, and in 2015 achieved its first Best of Award of Excellence for its 525-selection wine list, offering favorites from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italy. Chef Brian Alberg’s menu features contemporary American cuisine inspired by the inn’s historic origins, focusing on local, seasonal ingredients.
Owned and operated by the Roessler family since 1978, Roessler’s Restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., achieved its first Restaurant Award in 2001. Today, wine director and chef Klaus Roessler—son of founder Klaus Roessler—maintains the moderately priced, Best of Award of Excellence–winning list that has grown to 355 selections, highlighting California, France and Australia. Set on nearly 3 acres of tropical gardens, the grounds at Roessler’s are a popular spot for proposals and weddings, while the main dining room offers views of the outdoor patio and bridged pond.
In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, Toscana aims to “treat everyone as family.” Owned by husband-and-wife team Michael and Kathie Gordon and their son Andy, this hot spot’s Restaurant Award–winning history dates back to 2003, combining Tuscan influences with a California setting. Wine director Emily Johnston’s 450-selection Best of Award of Excellence–winning list shares this dual emphasis, highlighting gems from both Italy and California.
One could say that the wine program at the Dundee Bistro, owned by the Ponzi family of acclaimed Willamette Valley winery Ponzi Vineyards, was destined for success. The restaurant’s moderately priced, Award of Excellence–winning list is led by wine director Christopher Berry, with guidance from the Ponzis, and provides a special focus on local Oregon Pinot Noirs, offering over six dozen options. Guests can also choose from local Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. Chris Flanagan’s menu blends Pacific Northwestern and Italian influences, using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients to create a variety of pastas, pizzas, meats and fresh salads.