My wife Sara’s sister Rebecca was visiting from Atlanta so we took her to The River Café, one of our favorite restaurants in Brooklyn (and, indeed, in the world).
It was a busy Saturday night, and the small, cozy barge was filled with happy people dressed up for good food and celebration. The view over the swirling East River to the twinkling Manhattan skyline was as magical as ever. The food is as good as ever, too, under the guidance of executive chef Brad Steelman. It retains its focus on local ingredients and classic preparations, with lively flavors and balanced dishes.
The wine list, which holds our Best of Award of Excellence, retains its depth in California and France, and has added breadth in Spain and Italy in recent years. To pair with our mostly seafood-based appetizers (don’t miss the perfectly cooked rock lobster tails with mango, fennel and lemon), I chose a Vermentino ($50 on the list), from the Bolgheri area of Tuscany’s Mediterranean coast, produced by Antinori. It was fresh and lively, yet had a generous texture and plenty of fruit. It made an excellent transition between crisp Champagne and a richer white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I rated it 88 points, non-blind.
And we raised a glass when a fellow at a nearby table got down on his knee and proposed to his date, a young woman whose surprise and happiness lit up the entire room.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Antinori Vermentino Bolgheri Tenuta Guado al Tasso 2009 (87, $26).