After a brief hiatus, Manzo, the meat-focused restaurant at Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich's Eataly New York Flatiron location, is scheduled to reopen March 31. The space closed on Feb. 19 to undergo "head-to-tail" renovations, including a glass-walled butcher room, which will give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how their meat is prepared. The changes to the wine program are a bit subtler, but just as important to Heidi Singer, Manzo's beverage director.
"At Eataly, so many different individuals walk through our doors, and we wanted to create a list that could be for everybody," Singer told Wine Spectator in an email, explaining the decision to streamline Manzo's almost exclusively Italian list from 650 to 550 selections, for now. The impressive by-the-glass program has been upgraded, with the 20 offerings including some lesser-known options. "We went out on a limb and put some more obscure wines on the by-the-glass list as well, knowing that they were a perfect pair for certain dishes," Singer said.
In another nod to tradition, Manzo will feature an extensive vermouth program, harking back to the original Eataly, which occupies an old vermouth factory in Turin, Italy. With 34 vermouths, the program is another of Eataly's efforts toward culinary education. "We know this program is a risk because vermouth is a foreign thing to most people in the United States," Singer said. "But bringing something unique and authentic to guests is what was most important in the creation of this program, and I can’t wait to see the feedback."—L.W.
On March 1, the Chicago location of Jose Garces’ Rural Society closed its doors. The Argentine steak house, located in the Loews Chicago Hotel Downtown, just blocks from Navy Pier, earned an Award of Excellence in 2016 for its moderately priced, 125-selection wine list. You can still enjoy the list at the hotel’s new restaurant concept, ETA Restaurant & Bar, which serves small plates, including jumbo lump crab cakes and a cheese platter, alongside larger contemporary American dishes. Meanwhile, Rural Society’s Award of Excellence–winning location in Washington, D.C., remains open, as do Garces’ other Restaurant Award winners, all located in Philadelphia: Volvér, which also highlights Argentine bottles, Tinto and Amada, which focus on the wines of Spain.—S.H.
Acclaimed Mexico City–born chef Enrique Olvera plans to debut his much-anticipated New York City restaurant, Atla, on March 31 in NoHo. The all-day, Mexican-inspired neighborhood café will offer a more casual experience than its successful sister restaurant, Cosme, which sought to redefine Mexican fine dining with dishes such as uni tostadas, cobia al pastor and duck carnitas when it opened its doors in 2015.
Yana Volfson, beverage director at Cosme, will also be overseeing the program at Atla, which will feature a small, rotating selection of wines by the glass and bottle, as well as an evening mezcal program. As opposed to Cosme, whose wine program of approximately 120 listings focuses on complementing the “umami nature” of its Mexican cuisine, the wine at Atla will be more “café-style” to coincide with the restaurant’s relaxed atmosphere, intended to be enjoyed on their own as well as with the menu items.
Volfson is concentrating on featuring small producers that adhere to biodynamic principles. “Our philosophy is that we are focusing on a more natural wines program,” Volfson told Wine Spectator. “I think that the wines we have here are unique. We are working with grapes that many people maybe haven’t heard of. A lot of people know French and Italian wine, but being able to introduce people to Spanish wine has been really fun with our program.”
The restaurant is opening with a selection of 10 wines from various countries (four reds, four whites and two sparkling), with boutique German producer Clemens Busch's Riesling Vom Roten Schiefer as one example of what to expect on the inaugural list. As more Mexican wine becomes available in the New York market, Volfson is looking to integrate that into the selection as well.—V.S.
Fabio Trabocchi’s first restaurant, Best of Award of Excellence winner Fiola in the Penn Quarter of Washington, D.C., has a new executive chef on board. In February, after a six-month transition period at the restaurant, Ed Scarpone took over the position, which had been held by Trabocchi himself (he remains the owner). Scarpone, previously of DBGB’s Washington, D.C., location, now oversees the restaurant’s daily-changing menu of Italian-inflected favorites such as Nova Scotia lobster ravioli, osso bucco tortellini and Atlantic halibut with Manila clams and shellfish brodo. Wine director Casper Rice continues to manage the restaurant’s list of more than 1,400 selections, with strengths in Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy, Bordeaux, California and Champagne.—S.H.
Best of Award of Excellence winner Lincoln Ristorante will be gaining a new executive chef in the coming months. Jonathan Benno has led the Patina Restaurant Group’s Italian-inspired kitchen since its inception in 2010, but will be leaving to pursue his own restaurant project. Taking over will be Shea Gallante, who opened the now-closed Flatiron restaurant Ciano and honed his skills as chef at New York wine hotspot Cru before it closed its doors, as well as at Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurants Bouley and Felidia. In order to ensure a smooth transition, the two chefs will be collaborating in preparation for Gallante’s menu, which will be making its debut this summer.
“After seven years with Lincoln Ristorante and the Patina Group, I am thrilled to begin working on my own restaurant project,” said Benno in a press release. “I am truly grateful to [CEO] Nick Valenti for the incredible opportunity that he gave me, and to the talented and hardworking team at Lincoln. I wish Shea Gallante great success." Though its most robust selections are from Tuscany and Piedmont, Lincoln’s wine program, curated by wine director Aaron von Rock, encompasses 20 Italian regions across its 450 picks, as well as a rotating list featuring a variety of winemakers, vintages and seasonal offerings.—V.S.