Chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione opened Peasant Wine Bar in New York’s Nolita neighborhood on Jan. 25. Occupying the wine cellar of Forgione’s Peasant restaurant, the new concept combines the chef’s spin on Italian cuisine with a similarly focused wine list. Forgione is also the restaurateur behind Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner Restaurant Marc Forgione.
“It’s such a beautiful and unique space,” Forgione told Wine Spectator via email. “I always wanted to do something fun down there.”
The 70-label wine list, shared by Peasant and the wine bar, is overseen by beverage director Scott Woltz, formerly of Restaurant Award winners Babbo and Eleven Madison Park, who has collected bottlings from up and down the Italian boot. Italian wine fans will find everything from Lambrusco and Piedmont Nebbiolo to reds from Sicily and Basilicata to Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc from the north; 20 wines are available on a by-the-glass list unique to the wine bar. “Our goal is to create opportunities for every type of wine lover out there—from the novice to the collector, industry or enthusiast—to have a blast,” Woltz explained. “It’s about having a great time, finding something exciting to try no matter who you are, in an alluring setting.”
Woltz has focused on highlighting smaller, family-owned wineries using sustainable practices, as well as lesser-known indigenous varieties. Diners will also find older vintages, plus Amaro and digestif choices for after the meal. Available only in the wine bar is a new “Ultima Bottiglia” (last bottle) list of single bottles of rare riserva wines. Altogether, the wine inventory currently sits at 700 bottles, but Woltz is planning to grow the program. “Our goal is to make sure guests get the chance to travel [to] any and all of Italy’s regions through the wines,” he said.
Alongside Woltz’s list, Forgione offers many of the wood-fired classics and pastas that guests can find upstairs at Peasant, including oxtail bone marrow, rotisserie lamb ragù and rigatoni with vodka sauce. The wine bar sets itself apart with an additional menu of quinto quarto (“fifth quarter”) dishes inspired by traditional, offal-based Roman cuisine: Tripe with pecorino and mint, beef tongue with horseradish and wood-roasted oysters with marrow. A late-night menu of small cicchetti plates is also available, along with dishes paired with Woltz’s wine picks.
In keeping with the aesthetic of a wine cellar, Peasant Wine Bar offers a rustic ambience meant to evoke a traditional Italian enoteca, with candlelit stonework, columns, antique tables and wooden benches, with seating for 35, as well as a barn door entrance.
“I hope this can be a wine bar for the people, not just industry,” Forgione said. “That’s how I look at Peasant as a restaurant as well. I like to make ‘cheffy’ dishes and ingredients approachable to everyone, and I hope that’s what happens with the wine bar.”—C.D.
Chef Victoria Blamey, known for her work at Chumley's and more recently at the revamped Gotham Bar & Grill, is continuing her run in New York City with a new restaurant in Tribeca. Opened Jan. 27, Mena draws inspiration from Blamey’s childhood in Chile.
Named after her great-aunt, Mena is Blamey’s first venture as an owner and chef. Her five-course tasting menu ($115) showcases creative dishes like Maine Snow Island oysters with seaweed gremolata, Upstate Abundance potatoes with morcilla (a pork sausage), yellow onion and sauce au poivre and cholgas secas (dried mussels) with charred caraflex cabbage, onion glaze and fermented potato bread.
Blamey began laying the groundwork for the project after Gotham Bar & Grill closed in March 2020 for more than a year and a half, due to the pandemic; she followed that stint with a residency at Grand Award winner Blue Hill at Stone Barns in spring 2021.
Wine consultant Lee Campbell built the list of 80 selections, 16 of which are offered by the glass. Much like the menu, the wines were selected with sustainability in mind. “I was very excited to work with such a singular culinary mind like chef Victoria Blamey,” Campbell told Wine Spectator via email. “Her flavors are complex, dynamic and very alive. It has been fascinating to curate a group of wines that would stand up to these flavors and also not distract.”
As a nod to Blamey’s heritage, the wine list is strong in South American wines, while crisp whites and light reds from around the globe round out the selection.—T.M.
Mauro Colagreco, the chef behind acclaimed French restaurant Mirazur, is taking up residence this month at Award of Excellence winner Mezcal in Mexico’s Montage Los Cabos hotel. Titled “Mirazur Beyond Borders,” the residency will blend the Argentinian chef’s distinctive style with local ingredients and flavors.
“We are planning to use some of my favorite Mexican produce, such as chile peppers, corn, [bell peppers] among others, to mix in with my cuisine at Mirazur,” Colagreco told Wine Spectator via email. “I want to show my team and guests of Montage Los Cabos just how versatile Mexican produce can be and how it can be easily incorporated into cuisine.”
Beginning Feb. 9, this is the first of three dining experiences Montage Los Cabos will be hosting in 2022; it's scheduled to run for 10 days, with exclusively outdoor seating. Each night, Colagreco and his team are developing a new tasting menu ($550, plus $160 for wine pairings), combining seasonal ingredients with Mirazur techniques. (Mezcal’s kitchen has been adjusted for the task.) “I always try to keep an open mind,” Colagreco said, “since it gives me the flexibility to change the menu freely and offer spontaneous cuisine in Mirazur.”
As a match for Colagreco’s diverse selections, Mirazur Beyond Borders will be offering wines that encompass a range of regions and styles. Mirazur sommeliers Magali Pichari and Noemi Mattachione are overseeing the wine program, which emphasizes the shared grape varieties and histories of Mexico, California, Italy and southern France. Wines from Montage Los Cabos’ cellar will also be available, beefing up the Mexican selections.
“[Chef Mauro] is known for taking diners on sensory journeys, and we are honored to host this unforgettable culinary experience,” said Montage Los Cabos managing director Marco Ortlam in a statement.
Mirazur’s gardening team is working with regional farmers, fishermen and producers to source ingredients, observing sustainable techniques used in Baja California while integrating the French restaurant’s own eco-friendly practices. Colagreco’s team is also collaborating with Italy-based company Plastic Free Certification to enhance the project’s sustainability. “Collectively, we are working toward a solution regarding the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Colagreco, “and we hope our partnership will encourage others to become more aware of their plastic usage.”
Colagreco and his team are focusing on reopening Mirazur as well, where renovations began Jan. 3, primarily in the kitchen; the restaurant is set to reopen in April. In the meantime, much of the Mirazur team will be participating in the Mezcal project. Past chef residencies at Montage Los Cabos include chefs Dominque Crenn and Christopher Kostow.—C.D.
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