In October, New York–based Italian restaurant Scarpetta arrived in Tokyo, marking owner LDV Hospitality’s second location outside the U.S., and its first in Asia. The new venue is situated within a new skyscraper complex in the Toranomon district of the city’s Minato ward.
“As one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world, Tokyo has always been one of my favorite places to explore, particularly from a culinary perspective,” said LDV founder and president John Meadow told Wine Spectator, explaining that the project sprang from a partnership offer from real-estate developer Mori Trust. “Located in a neighborhood where culture and design collide, Toranomon Hills felt like a natural fit for Scarpetta, our upscale offering and discerning customers.”
The restaurant blends Scarpetta's cosmopolitan Italian aesthetic with homages to traditional Japanese fine dining. While most Scarpetta locations only change their menus four times each year, Scarpetta Tokyo’s three tasting menus will rotate six times annually to ensure they are as seasonal as possible. Each of the three highlights a different aspect of the restaurant’s primary culinary influences: New York, Italy and Tokyo.
The beverage list offers a similar mix, with a large selection of Italian wines, ranging from Franciacorta sparklers to Barbera d’Alba from Piedmont and Tuscan blends. In addition, the drinks program is stacked with sakes and eclectic cocktails, such as variations on whiskey highballs, that combine Italian influences with Japanese ingredients and spirits.
Currently, Scarpetta operates seven restaurants across the U.S. and in London, including Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Scarpetta Beach in Montauk, N.Y., and the flagship location in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood. A new location in Doha, Qatar, opened in the city’s Waldorf Astoria Lusail hotel in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup events, starting next week. LDV is also planning two more international Scarpetta openings in Rome and Rio de Janeiro, which Meadow expects for 2023.—J.L.
Eleven Madison Park Alum Heads Kitchen at New Paradisaea in California
Chef Mark Welker started his career at Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Eleven Madison Park in 2009, eventually becoming its executive pastry chef in 2015. As of this past August, he can be found in sunny La Jolla, Calif., where he signed on with local husband-and-wife restaurateurs Eric and Zoe Kleinbub as executive chef of their new Paradisaea. Joining Welker in the kitchen is chef Gabriel Bonis, formerly of the nearby Award of Excellence winner Nine-Ten.
Welker’s dinner-only menu is contemporary, playful and Californian, with dishes like Kumiai oysters from Mexico’s Baja California region, garnished with a frozen passionfruit sangrita. Larger dishes include the likes of beef tenderloin with roasted corn, freekeh ragout, Fresno peppers and purslane, and wild mushroom tagliatelle with brown butter–Sherry sabayon.
Creative cocktails are a main draw here, but a concise list of about 50 wines is chock full of Californian picks from leading wineries, including Kistler and Far Niente Chardonnays, Hirsch Pinot Noir and Peter Michael’s Les Pavots. International selections round out the list—there are bottles from H. Dönnhoff and CVNE, to name a few—as does a small reserve list with rarer bottlings of Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia, Domaine Leflaive and Château Margaux. “We wanted to start with a wine list that we knew intimately. We added a few of our personal favorites,” the Kleinbubs told Wine Spectator in a statement. “Our goal is for the list to grow with new ideas and inspiration as Paradisaea continues to evolve.”
The restaurant occupies a 4,500-square-foot space in the historic Piano Building, built in 1949 by renowned modernist architect William Kesling. Working with design firm Georgis & Mirgorodsky, the Kleinbubs restored the building, using a warm palette of greens and salmons for the Paradisaea space, which features ceramic tables and a large, tropical-style mural by San Diego artist Josh Herman. “We wanted Paradisaea to capture the beauty, vibe and casual spirit of our community,” the Kleinbubs explained.—A.R.
SingleThread Farms Names Chris McFall as New Wine Director
In October, the team at Sonoma County’s renowned SingleThread Farms announced sommelier Chris McFall would take over as the new wine director from Rusty Rastello, who led the program when the restaurant received its Grand Award from Wine Spectator in 2021.
McFall joined the SingleThread team in March 2020, just before the restaurant pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic; that August, he aided in SingleThread’s reopening. Before McFall had previously worked at Best of Award of Excellence winner Lazy Bear in San Francisco and at Grand Award winner Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, in Houston, among others.
“I really love the aspect of service when we get the opportunity to listen to what guests like, and dance around that,” McFall told Wine Spectator. “I want them to have the best possible experience tasting some things that they might know well, and then [surprise] them with some wines that they might not know that they liked or may not have tried on their own.”
Located in Healdsburg, Calif., SingleThread is acclaimed for its seasonal, Sonoma-focused, farm-to-table cuisine. Run by co-owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton, the restaurant also draws inspirations from Japanese cooking and dining, with its design referencing traditional, tatami-matted ryokan inns. The Connaughtons’ 24-acre farm in Dry Creek Valley—managed by Katina—is the primary source for ingredients used across SingleThread’s tasting menu, which Kyle oversees as the restaurant’s chef.
McFall manages the 13,000-bottle cellar, which represents 3,300 labels and knockout verticals from leading wineries like Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Bordeaux first-growth Château Latour. The list is heavy on Champagne, and there’s plenty from producers closer to home in Sonoma, especially those practicing sustainable farming.
“There’s a fun fine line of balancing the adventurous with the familiar in our program and in the way the dining room works,” McFall explained. “But, at the end of the day, I always want [guests] to see something from our backyard if possible. I always want to shine a light on Sonoma County.”
McFall has been expanding SingleThread’s non-alcoholic offerings to pair with the tasting menu. The move—which McFall describes as “a more thoughtful approach” to alcohol-free beverages—has already proven successful with guests. “I wanted people to be able to have the same experience that everyone at the table was having if they were enjoying wine—no matter if they were kind enough to drive, or for whatever health, religious or personal reasons,” said McFall. “I'm super-pumped and proud of the team that’s been behind the scenes working on that.”-J.L.