As of Feb. 20, Andrea Morris is the new beverage director for Union Square Cafe, one of five Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners in Danny Meyer’s New York–based Union Square Hospitality Group. Replacing Jason Wagner, Morris now oversees the Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine program of 1,500 labels at the historic restaurant, which opened in 1985.
“It’s definitely a little surreal,” she told Wine Spectator. Morris aims to honor the program’s classic strengths, which include California, Italy and France, while incorporating exciting newcomers in the wine world. “Finding those values outside of your typical French regions is something I’m definitely wanting to focus on, as well as the smaller labels of the bigger producers.”
It’s the first time she’s taking over an established wine program, after serving on the opening teams of restaurants like John Fraser’s Nix and, most recently, USHG's Intersect by Lexus. “I’m so excited to be a part of this restaurant's history,” Morris said. “It’s really an icon in New York, and the fact that I get to make my own mark on it is really cool.”
In other USHG news, the group’s Grand Award winner in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Modern, named a new chef. Thomas Allan will officially replace Abram Bissell next week as leader of the contemporary American kitchen, where the tasting menu starts at $188 for six courses. Allan began his restaurant career as a line cook at the group’s Blue Smoke restaurant before working at renowned spots such as Grand Award winners Per Se and Eleven Madison Park. According to a spokesperson for the group, the change won’t impact the Modern’s wine program, which features more than 3,000 selections excelling in numerous regions such as Burgundy, California, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Italy and Champagne.—Julie Harans
Washington, D.C.’s Knead Hospitality + Design, the group behind Award of Excellence winner Succotash Restaurant, opened the Grill Feb. 18 in the District Wharf development, in collaboration with chef Roberto Santibañez. With more than 200 selections, the opening wine list has a large focus on Champagne and the United States. “Like Succotash, we try to work with and focus a lot on fun American producers,” said Knead’s beverage director, Darlin Kulla.
She also sought bright, vibrant white wines from regions such as France, Germany and Austria to pair with some of the lighter fare and round out the diverse selection of New World reds. Each of the 23 wines by the glass is accompanied by a tasting note, part of Kulla’s goal to keep the list “very approachable and easy to navigate.” The menu is American overall, offering an abundance of grilled meats, plus Mediterranean-influenced small plates like lamb skewers with tzatziki and beef tartare with anchovy and capers.—Taylor McBride
David Giuliano has taken over as wine director at longstanding New York restaurant Il Buco and its newer sibling, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, which holds an Award of Excellence. "It’s an incredible honor, not only to be part of such a seasoned and dedicated team but also to find myself part of such an important legacy,” Giuliano told Wine Spectator via email.
He was previously beverage director of another New York group, Blackfoot Hospitality, and he’s replacing Roberto Paris, who served as wine director of Il Buco for 24 years, as well as the newer outpost since it opened in 2011. Paris will stay within the company, focusing on events and special projects but remaining involved with the wine programs, including the Restaurant Award winner’s 450-label list that’s strongest in Italy and France, particularly Piedmont and Tuscany.
“Roberto and I both share a strong focus and commitment to the indigenous varietals of Italy, and the small, independent winemakers who champion them,” Giuliano said, adding that he plans to further consider sustainability and other global impacts of winegrowing when sourcing selections.—J.H.
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