Monday, November 23, 2020

A Movie and Champagne

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 4.00.24 PM

Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts (L)


How to watch a movie? You go to the cinema or pop something on at home, no? Yes that one way. You can watch a movie and maybe it's good and maybe it's not. You got to a movie theater? Well not so much today, with Netflix, Cable TV, streaming, or picking out a Video (yes some still have them), or DVD from your home collection. Nowadays there are many ways to see a movie. There's the old fashion way of going to the cinema, paying money and seeing the latest movie of your choice. That was fun, and it was an event, a night out, and much more affordable than today. "Isn't everything?" Well yeah, most things are a lot more expensive than they were in years past, and somethings not. Candy bars for example are about 20 times more than they were when I was a kid. WHen I first started buying candy bars (Hershey Bar etc.) they were only 5 Cents. And guess what? They were only 5 Cents when my father was a boy, 30 years before. In 30 years, the price of a candy bar (all candy) hadn't gone up at all. When I first started buying Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey Bars, Almond Joys and such, they where just 5 cents, a Nickel a piece. Then they started going up, a nickel at a time, until they got to the point they are now, between 1 Dollar and a Buck 25 depending on where you buy one. That's as muc as 25 times increase since I was a boy. The average workers weekly income has gone up only 2 1/2 to 3 times since then, yet a Hershey Bar has gone up 20 times or more. A home has gone up close to 20 times as well, yet the price of long distance phone calls have decreased 20 times. What's a person to do. The price of a movie ticket? Yes it's gone up about 25 times since I started paying for my own movie ticket 50 years gone buy at the Rivoli Theater in Rutherford, New Jersey when it was just .75 for for a "Double Feature," two movies with Cartoons in between. No more Double Features, no more cartoons, doesn't exist. And boy did I Love, and did I have oh so much fun and fantasy, seeing all those great movies as a boy, back in 1960s America, it was just great, it was a "Wonderland," the movies and movie houses of your.

Well, again, I've gone way off the track again. Weren't we talking about how to watch a movie? Yep. Now watching a movie in your normal way, and watching a movie with my winemaker cousin Joseph Macari Jr. of the North Fork of Long Island, New York is a whole other story. First off, you're got to have a great movie. A movie with great actors and a great director always helps. When Joe and I would be watching movies, most of them would tend to be what you'd call guy films, such as Mob Movies made by the likes of Italian-American Directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Movies like the Godfather I and II, Goodfellas, Casino, and Raging Bull.  The Pope of Greenwich Village by Vincent Partrick, and starring Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts is one of our all-time favorites, as is State of Greace about the Irish Mafia of Hell's Kitchen , New York, and which Gary Oldman turned in one hell of an incredible performance, playing Irish Mob Boss (Ed Harris) crazy brother, Irish Mob Soldier.

So we'd pick a movie, get it ready, then Joe would go down into his wine cellar and grab an amazing bottle of Champagne. And I'm not talking about  Vueve Cliquot (Orange Label) or MOET - White Star, I'm talking some really serious Champagne, "The Best of The Best." Joe came back that night with a bottle of BILLECART - SALMON Rose. "Wow!" Well I never had this Champagne before, I'd never even heard of it. Joe popped the cork and poured me a glass. We toasted, and then I took my first sip. Again, "Wow," It was absolutely amazing. And I was in love. Yes I do love that Champagne, Billecart - Salmon Rose. It is so very delicious, and some have said, the Brut Rose Champagne produced by the Champagne House of Billecart - Salmon is a reference point as to how a great French Rose Champagne should taste, and that's absolutely marvelous. And it should "Blow Your Mind" so to speak as that wine did for my that night, way back in the Fall of the year 2000. Yes Billecart Rose, as we call it, has to be my number 1 al-time favorite of all the great CHampagnes of France. And I've had many great champagnes, and ones that are far more expensive, and some might think better, than the Rose of Billecart Salmon, but not me. It was that special night, hanging out with my cousin Joe, watching Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts in The Pope of Greenwich Village, enjoying the film, laughing, talking about it, and savoring that fine Champagne. 

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 7.37.34 PM.png

Billecart - Salmon

Brut Rose

  The champagnes of Maison Billecart-Salmon are above all created thanks to the knowledge of the men who rigorously cultivate an estate of 100 hectares, obtaining grapes from an area totaling 300 hectares across 40 crus of the Champagne region.
   The majority of the grapes used for vinification come from a radius of 20km around Epernay, where the Grand Crus of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay co-exist, in the ethereal vineyards of the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs.
  Yes, we do love our Champagne, we're music lover, gourmands, and film buffs, and we combine these interests into some very sepcial times. Over the years we watched Man on Fire with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, The Silence of The Lambs and other great movies. And we drank wines like Solaia, Tiganello, Taittinger's Comtes di Champagne and other great wines, and vintage Champagne. Our, and by the way, I haven't completely set the scene. When Joe and I watched these movies and drank Champagne, it was after the whole family, after a long day at Macari Vineyards, we'd all have a nice dinner together. We cooked, ate, chatted, and drank some nice wine with dinner. Then, as everyone was quite tired and would retire to bed, Joe and I would get our movie, an awesome bottle of Champagne, and we'd dig in. Dig into a classic film and some Vintage Champagne.
"Now that my friends, is How You Watch a Movie. Wouldn't you agree?"

  Basta !

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 4.26.17 PM

Me and Cousin Joe

Drinking Prosecco in VENICE

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.04.49 PM.png

James Caan, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and John Cazale

Sonny, Don Vito, Michael, and Freddo

"Joe and I drank "MILLE Una NOTTE" from our friends The RALLO FAMILY of DONNAFUGATA , Marsala, SICILY when we watched this one. We had to, great Sicilian Wine and a Sicilian Family, The CORLEONES of Corleone, Sicilia ...

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.11.26 PM.png

Gary Oldman


Wine Pairing ?



Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.15.34 PM.png


Our Wine Pairing ?


Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.17.23 PM.png



Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) would approve of the Champagne selection, "I'm sure."
For me, Pulp Fiction was an absolute Masterpiece, and easily director Quentin Tarrantino's greatest film. I really liked Tarrantino's first film Resevoir Dogs, but not nearly as much as Pulp Fiction, which is in my Top 10 Films. 

John Travolta, Ving Raimes, Eric Stolz, Harvey Keitel, and Samuel L. Jackson were awesome in the film, as was Uma.

The screenplay by Tarrantio and Roger Avery was the base of this great film. I'm still waiting for tarrantino to make at least one more great film, but just for this masterpiece alone, for me he's a genius. And I love another screenplay that Tarrantino wrote, but didn't direct the movie. And that would be the movie True Romance, directed by the late great Tony Scott (RIP).

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.21.32 PM.png

Robert DeNiro as JAKE LaMOTTA

In Martin Scorsese 's RAGING BULL

Wine Pairing ?

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.23.52 PM


Grande Cuvee

Raging Bull, another great film classic from director Martin Scorsese. 

KRUG Grande Cuvee, what can you say, "This Champagne is Amazing!" 

It's KRUG after all?

Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.44.31 PM.png

Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper


As Vincenzo Cocotti and Cliff Worley



Screenshot 2019-10-10 at 8.49.45 PM


"Dam I Love this Champagne!" What's not to Love? Pol Roger- Sir Winston Churchill is one of the Best Champagne's money can buy, "you just can't get any better." Full of those yeasty bready Brioche flavors that I love in fine Vintage Champagne. And the movie True Romance, what can I say? Dam, I just flipped for this film the first time I saw it. And seeing this movie and Christian Slater's awesome performance as Clarence Worly, just blew my mind, and I finally gained respect for Christian's acting abilities. I've know Christian since he was about 10 years old, and his mother, powerhouse Casting Director Mary Jo Slater used to bring him to a restaurant I worked in long ago (the 1980s).

This film was awesome from beginning to end, and is one of Quentin Tarrantino's greatest works. he wrote the screenplay, but didn't make the movie, which was directed by Tony Scott. The movie is filled with one awesome ensemble cast which includes: the stars Slater and Patricia Arquette (ALabama), along with cameos by Dennis Hopper (Slater's father), Christopher Walkin as Mob Boss Vincenzo Cocotti, Brad Pitt as Michael Rappaport's "Stoner Friend," Val Kilmer plays ELVIS PRESLEY, Gary Oldman is aboslutely Electrifying as wannabe Rastafarian Drug Dealer / Pimp called Drexl.

Anyway, I love the movie, and was oh so happy to turn Joe on to it. He had never seen it before, and he abolutely loved it. We had a great time watching it together, and The Sir Winston Chruchill Champagne did not hurt at all. "It was incredible!"
to be Continued .... 

I will add to my reviews of both the Movies, Actors, and Champagne's at a later date. Hope you all enjoy this for now. So until the next great movie, and the next great French Champagne. As Arnold would say, "Hasta la Vista Baby!"









Best Christmas Gift Cookbooks 2020

"If You Could Only Have One Cookbook?"
Why it's a classic: It's THE all-purpose cookbook for everything from boiling eggs to making chocolate cake. If you're looking for a specific recipe, chances are it's in this book.
It’s an encyclopedia, in an age where we rely on Google for such things. But when I was writing a Bon Appétit article on a specific ingredient lately, the entry in the Joy of Cooking glossary had more than anything I found online, with cited sources. I’m not kidding! The recipes have expanded, so there’s not as much squirrel, but there are Korean short ribs and chickpea pancakes and Japanese okonomiyaki. If there’s a newer cook in your life who doesn’t already have an earlier edition, now’s the time to induct them into the Joy of Cooking cult.
Mastering The Art of French Cooking
Julia Child
And Simone Beck
Marcella Hazan
"It's Considered by Most, to Be The Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking"
And if you Could Only have One Italian Cookbook ? This Would Be It
Available on
When Italian-Americans Cook
Daniel Bellino Zwicke
As We Said Marcella Hazan's Italian Cookbook 
would Be The One Italian Cookbook
to Get if You Could Only Have One?
If you want to cook like an Italian-American, and who wouldn't, you Want SUNDAY SAUCE
Sunday Sauce by Daniel Bellino "Z" is the defining cookbook on the subject of Sunday Sauce, also know as Gravy by some. This book is filled with wonderful stories of Italian-America, the peoples and the food they love to eat. All of Italian-America's favorite dishes are in this book, with recipes that are easy to understand and follow.
Some recipes include; Tomato Sauce, Marinara Sauce, Frittata, Stuffed Artichokes, Braciole, Spaghetti & Meatballs, and of course the namesake of the book Sunday Sauce, which the author is quite passionate about, and states that it is thee "Most Supreme Dish," of the Italian American Table. It's eaten every Sunday by millions of Italian-Americans all over America.
Recipes also for: Mussels Marinara, Riagtoni al Forno, Veal Parm, Shrimp Scampi, Rao's Lemon Chicken, and Uncle Tony's Veal Marsala.
Frank Sinatra's Chicken Vesuvio, Mommy's Stuffed Peppers, Pasta Amatriciana, Italian Cheesecake and Much More.
Screenshot 2019-11-22 at 3.05.49 PM
Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 1.08.24 PM

Since its 1990 publication, Rose's Christmas Cookies has been a phenomenal success. Who can resist Chocolate-Dipped Melting Moments Cookies or moist Mini-Cheesecakes with Lemon Curd . . . or David Shamah's Jumbles, a fabulous cross between a chocolate-chip cookie and a chunky candy bar bursting with raisins, chocolate chips, and pecans. Whether you need a cookie to decorate your tree or grace your mantelpiece (cookies like Stained Glass or Christmas Wreaths), a sweet to send (Mahogany Butter Crunch Toffee, Maple Macadamia Bars), or a special holiday treat for your dinner party (Praline Truffle Cups, Chocolate-Pistachio Marzipan Spirals), you'll find that perfect something here. Complete with 60 cookie recipes and a color photograph of each cookie for handy reference, this easy-to-use and fun-to-read book will result in scrumptious, festive, and splendid-looking cookies every time.

GETS IT on Amazon

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 12.45.41 PM.png
It's the 1.8-million-copy bestselling cookbook that's become a modern-day classic. Beginning cooks will learn how to boil an egg. Experienced cooks will discover new ingredients and inspired approaches to familiar ones. Encyclopedic in scope, rich with recipes and techniques, and just plain fascinating to read, The New Basics Cookbook is the indispensable kitchen reference for all home cooks. This is a basic cookbook that reflects today's kitchen, today's pantry, today's taste expectations. A whimsically illustrated 875-recipe labor of love, The New Basics features a light, fresh, vibrantly flavored style of American cooking that incorporates the best of new ingredients and cuisines from around the world. Over 30 chapters include Fresh Beginnings; Pasta, Pizza, and Risotto; Soups; Salads; every kind of Vegetable; Seafood; The Chicken and the Egg; Grilling from Ribs to Surprise Paella; Grains; Beef; Lamb, Pork; Game; The Cheese Course, and Not Your Mother's Meatloaf. Not to mention 150 Desserts! Plus, tips, lore, menu ideas, at-a-glance charts, trade secrets, The Wine Dictionary, a Glossary of Cooking Terms, The Panic-Proof Kitchen, and much more.
Get it on Amazon





We all just love the greatest Cult Movie of all-time, The Big Lebowski, and just had to include it in our list. And since we're talking about cookbooks, there's only one possibility, and that's Got Any Kahlua ? aka The Big Lebowski Cookbook. The book, has been ingeniously written by Daniel Zwicke, who has filled the book with satirical humor with great recipes pertaining to The Dude and all the cast of characters from the movie. There's a recipe for Maude's Meatloaf, Walter Jewish Penicillin (Chicken Soup) Dude's Cowboy Chili, the perfect White Russian Cocktail, and more. 
We just Love this book and it's many tasty recipes that we're sure all Achievers (Fans of The Dude) will Abide by. The recipes are geared to be easy to make, they are economical (Dudes Unemployed), and of course tasty as can be.
So if your one of those Millions of Fans of The Dude and his movie, The Big Lebowski, or you no someone who is, Got Any Kahlua, The Big Lebowski Cookbook is a book for you.
Abide in it. 
Available on
Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 1.38.16 PM
Merry Christmas
And Happy Holidays
From All of Us
To All of You
Peace on Earth


November 29th  2020



November 29. 2020

Saturday, November 21, 2020

AL Pacino Favorite Pasta Recipe




This is one of Al Pacino’s favorites. When I was the Wine Director at Barbetta Ristorante in New York City, whenever Al came into the restaurant, he would often ask if we could make him a plate as it wasn’t on the menu. “Al literally made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” naturally we didn’t, and we always gave Mr. Pacino a  plate of his beloved Spaghetti Aglio Olio, just the way he liked it. “You’re welcome Al.”

Note : Again, this is another classic dish of Cucina Povera (poor man’s cuisine). It is loved by millions of Italians, and their Italian-American cousins in America. People like AL and me. Basta.

Ingredients :

8 ounces imported Italian Spaghetti

7 tablespoons Olive Oil

5 cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

2 tablespoons fresh chopped Parsley (optional)

Note : Make sure to use a good quality imported Italian Spaghetti, and Italian Olive Oil.

Fill a 3-4 quart pot ¾ full of water and add 1 teaspoon Sea Salt. Turn heat to high and bring the water to the boil.

Add olive oil and the garlic to a large frying pan. Cook on low heat until the garlic just starts to brown. Turn the heat off. Add the red pepper and stir.

Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water. Cook, following the directions on the box (about 10 minutes).

When the spaghetti is finished cooking, drain it into a colander, reserving about ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Place the drained spaghetti into the pan with the garlic and anchovies. Toss and mix the spaghetti so it is completely coated with the sauce. Add a little of the parsley and a little of the pasta cooking water if needed. Mix everything together.

Plate the spaghetti on two plates, dividing it evenly.  Sprinkle on the remaining Parsley. Serve immediately. Does not require cheese.

Note : To make classic Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Spaghetti w/ Garlic & Oil), make the dish exactly the same as above, and leave out the Anchovies, and you have one of Al Pacino’s favorite things to eat, Spaghetti Aglio Olio.

This has been Excerpted from POSITANO The MALFI COAST COOKBOOK / TRAVEL GUIDE by Daniel Bellino Zwicke, due November 29, 2020


/ TRAVEL GUIDE .. November 29, 2020 AMAZON .com




This is known as the SOLLOZZO Scene

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Positano We are Here - Excerpt




November 28, 2020

POSITANO "We're Here"

 The Blue Sita Bus pulled into Positano sometime in mid-afternoon and stopped in front of the Bar International. Boy was I excited, “Positano at long last.” It was the end of the line for me. I hopped off the bus and got my bags and headed into the bar. I needed to use the bathroom, throw some water on my face, and then get a small bite to eat. I got a Prosciutto & Provala Panino and a glass of fresh squeezed OJ. I sat down to relax before heading down to the Villa Maria Antonietta. It was a good long walk down many stairs and through alleyways as I navigated further down to the lower part of town, always moving toward the Sea. I was carrying two pieces of luggage, and the going wasn’t that easy, except that I was a strong young man of just 23, and so it really wasn’t a problem. Nowadays at nearly 60, the same trip would be significantly harder, but I could still do it. I’d have to go slower though. Anyway, I finally made it to the spot somewhere near the area called Mulini and asked someone for directions. A man told me exactly where the little pensione was, and so I headed over. It wasn’t far at all, and in no time flat, there I was at Villa Maria Antonietta. I asked the lady if she had any rooms available. She did, so I checked in, but not before showing her the Letter of Introduction from Rene Ricard. She took a quick glance and then brought me to my room. Once inside, I took a hot shower and unpacked some of my clothes before heading out to explore this new town. Positano.

  I left my little hotel and made my way down towards the sea. As I walked, I looked around in astonishment, spellbound with every step. Everything I had heard about Positano it seemed was true. Yes it was beautiful, magical, and invigorating. Nothing was exaggerated. I felt like a kid on Christmas Day. I was filled with that kid of euphoria. “Do you know what I mean?”

 Yes, no one had overstated their thoughts of this enchanting little town. Everyone’s descriptions were true, and if anything, they had been understated, Positano was totally amazing, and for me, “It was Love at first sight.” 

   The houses and hotels in Positano were stacked one atop the other as they straddled and rose up the hills that make up the special characteristics that the town is known for. Down where I was, there were all sorts of cute shops and charming little boutiques, including; ceramic-shops, Custom Sandal-Maker Shops, caffes (bars), and restaurants. Of course there were hotels, locals homes, and private villas as well. There were outdoor markets, salumerias, and all sorts of fun things to see and do. The Blue Tyrrhenian Sea was just a few hundred feet away, and so off I went. 

   I walked down to the sea to look around. The water was quite lovely and there was all sorts of activity going on with people swimming, and lounging on the beach. Boats were arriving and departing from town. From down here as you look to the sea, there is a little beach at the center, with the town's main boat-dock on the right, which is right next to the Cove dei Saraceni Hotel. Here you can catch ferry boats going to; Amalfi, Capri, Ischia, Naples, Sorrento, Salerno, and all points along the Amalfi Coast. From this spot the best beaches are off to the left or right of this center area from the little free beach which is not as nice as the two other beaches off to the far-left and far-right. There are a number of restaurants and bars down by the beach, including the famous Chez Black where they make Heart Shaped Pizza. There’s also Buca di Bacco with their beautiful terraced restaurant and bar, and the always welcoming Trattoria La Cambusa. If you turn your back to the Sea, you will see that the town of Positano just springs up out of the Sea, with the famous hill of a million pictures on your left, with houses stacked one-on top-of-the-other, they creep up toward the small hamlets of Montepertuso and Nocelle high above the sea. The same can be said for the hill to your right and the one directly in front of you, Positano rises from the sea and there it is smack dab in front of you, it seems as though Positano sours straight up to the Heavens. In fact, there is a famous path that is a popular place to hike, and the trail is known as “The Path of The Gods.” 

 Most of the town is sort of a large natural amphitheater. It’s quite an amazing sight to see, and it is just one reason that people have been flocking to this little town for years. They come from every corner of the world.

  After walking around the lowest part of town by the sea, I made my way back towards the center and found myself at the Caffe Zagara for some Gelato in their lovely little garden. La Zagara is in the Mulino area of town, and it’s smack-dab in the middle of Positano. Again, I was in 7th Heaven. I sat back with my gelato, and just aimlessly did nothing. I took it all in. The setting here is as magical as is any place in all of Positano, no matter which part of town you are in, Positano is always enchanting. Positano, there’s no escaping its beauty.

   After my gelato at La Zagaro, I headed down to the La Scogliera Beach Club to swim, relax, and just do nothing. “Now this is pure Bliss.” They have a snackbar / restaurant at this beach club, and I’d have a little something to eat for lunch or just a small snack. The rest of my time at La Scogliera Beach Club, is spent swimming, reclining on my chaise lounge, and sipping my Campari. I’d close my eyes and listen to those special beach sounds. You know those wonderful beach sounds don’t you? It’s the sound of Seagulls, waves crashing on rocks, music coming from the radios of those lying on the beach, the chatter of people talking, and it all blends together to make that very special kind of sound. Beach Sounds, I guess you could say. “You know what I mean, don’t you?” It’s especially nice when I just lie there with my eyes closed as if I were sleeping, but I’m not. I’m just relaxing and listening to the sounds of the sea, and all that goes with it.

  After the beach, it would be up to Bar DeMartino for my late afternoon aperitivo, before heading back to my room for a nice two-hour nap. After my little nap,  it was off to dinner at Da Vincenzo’s. I’d have some Octopus or Mussels (Cozze) then, as Rene told me, I’d eat a plate of the Worlds best Spaghetti Vongole, and again I’m in 7th Heaven all over again. After dinner at Da Vincenzo, it was back to Bar DeMartino to hangout and have a couple night-time cocktails (Campari) before going back to my hotel, sleeping the night away. And I always sleep quite well in Positano, with the fresh sea air making its way through the slatted shutters of my room at Maria Antoniette. The following year it would be at the Hotel Casa Albertina, right behind Da Vincenzo’s.

  The next day, I’d do it all over again, and so I did for 3 glorious days on my first trip to Positano, in the Summer of 85. The next Summer, I’d spend four days in Positano, after 3 splendid days on the Isle of Capri. After 3 glorious days on Capri, I took a boat from Capri to Positano. I was looking for a new hotel this time. I liked Villa Maria Antoniette that first time but wanted something a little bit nicer this time around. So, when I poked my head into the reception area at Casa Albertina, Lorenzo was there to greet me. He was very nice, and he said he’d make me a special “young person’s price,” and so he did. I paid $79 a night that first time at Casa Albertina in 1986. Casa Albertina is a beautiful little family run hotel, where you get luxury at a lower price. The guest rooms are very nice, and the public areas, including the sitting room, dining room, and bar area are all beautifully appointed. I stayed at Casa Albertina for four days, then I also took two days exploring la Bella Napoli. I’d do the same in the Summer of 1988, with two days in Rome, before heading down to Capri and the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and one more night in Rome before flying home the next day to JFK.

  I bought my first pair of Espadrilles on that first trip, as well as a great hand-made pair of “Positano Style” men’s casual pants that I wore every Summer for several years, and always bringing those pants back to Positano each year. Positano is famous for it’s Positano Style Clothing, especially women’s dresses and blouses, but they make shirts and a few things for the men as well, thus my Positano Pants. 

 I started my collection of local Amalfi Coast ceramics on that first trip. In the town of Vietri Sul Mare they make beautiful ceramic plates, and all sorts of ceramic objects that are typical of the area. I bought two beautiful plates in one of the ceramic shops in Positano on that first trip in 1985. I really loved those plates, and made some spaghetti that I ate on them as soon as I got back home. I ate on those plates all year long, and I’d buy a couple more the following year. But it wasn’t until 1988, when on my third trip to Positano,  I discovered that the plates were made in the coastal town of Vietri Sul Mare, at the most southern point of the Amalfi Coast.

  On that third trip (1988) to the Amalfi Coast, I rented a car one day to go to Pompeii for the first time, and also took a drive over to Vietri Sul Mare to buy some of the local ceramics. I bought; plates, a water picture, and decorative ceramic pieces that included a Virgin Mary for my mother Lucia. I also got some creature’s of the sea wall decoration as well. I went to Vietri with a couple of ladies that I had met in Capri. We had a wonderful day visiting the ancient Roman Ruins of Pompeii, going to Vietri to buy ceramics, and having dinner in Minori. After dinner, we hopped in the car and back onto the Amalfi Drive. We didn’t get very far, as when we drove into the town of Amalfi, we decided to stop and see what was going on. I parked the car and we went to an outdoor caffe for some evening cocktails.  After Limoncello Cocktails we strolled around Amalfi. It was The Feast of Santa Anna  and the Piazza del Duomo was abuzz with music and activity of tourists and local revelers. It was happy and festive, and the girls and I had a nice little time there. 

  This was the first time I ever drove the famed Amalfi Drive, known as one of the World’s great driving-roads. And it certainly is, with its unmatched beauty, and its  famed hairpin and horseshoe turns. The Amalfi Drive is quite the road to drive. I surely savored the chance to drive it, taking all those crazy turns, and marveling at the beauty of it all. It was a wonderful experience, and being such a young man, I enjoyed it all the more. It’s a day I shall never forget.

  On my second visit to Positano (1986), I was lucky in that I was staying at Casa Albertino during the time when the hotel holds its annual cocktail / dinner party for their guests, and that’s when I met my sweet friend Nicoletta. The party was wonderful. There was a big buffet table with wonderful treats from the Hotel’s Chef, The buffet table included : Prosciutto, Provola, Croquettes, delicious Arancini, Gnocchi, Ravioli, and other culinary delights. I drank Campari and Biancolella local wine, it was all quite wonderful. At the party, I met and chatted with several other hotel guests, and we all had a delightful evening. All courtesy of the Cinque family of Casa Albertina.


November 28th 2020 on

Copyright 2020 Daniel Bellino Zwicke



Back in POSITANO !!!






Sunday, November 8, 2020

Former Batali Bastianich restaurant Otto has Closed

Where is Mario ?

You know things are bad when once very popular, former Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia
Bastianich restaurants close. This is the case with Otto Enoteca, created by Mario Batali and
partner Joe Bastianich back in 2003, another victim of Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020. It's a sad day for me, someone who loves Italian Wine and Italian Wine Bars, as to begin with, there are not that many in 
New York, and now we've lost another. I know what it's like. I myself created with my partner 
Tom T
America's 1st ever Venetian Wine (Bacaro) Bar Cichetti way back in 1998, right around the time that Joe Bastianich joined forces with rising celebrity chef Mario Batali and opened Babbo. This is were they started growing their restaurant empire. They followed Babbo with Lupa Osteria, specializing in Roman Cusisine and Italian Wine. Today Lupa is the only former Bastianich / Batali restaurants operating at this very moment 
(Novemeber 2020). Babbo has not opened and there is rabid speculation that Del Posto will not survive the Pandemic and in all likelihood will shutter it's doors permanently. Eataly remains opened.
Yes I will miss Otto. Joe and Mario set it up quite nicely, especially the bar, which though the prices were quite a bit more than most wine bars in Italy, I really liked the place. My cousin Joe and I went there on numerous occasions and had some good times there. We'd order some nice wine and have a few antipasti plates, and maybe a pasta or two. 
Anyway, as the smoke has cleared with the whole ting with Mario, and him leaving B&B Hospitality.
One would have to say Mr. Batali got out just in time. He was paid off for his share in the company which has now lost a great deal of its former total value. Who knew we were going to have a Pandemic that would change the whole world, killing people, and destroying many businesses in its wake. Otto is a victim of the Pandemic and has closed for good. Babbo has been closed and has not re-opened yet, though we suspect it will re-open one day, and most likely will not fall victim. Del Posto is another story, most feel that it will end up closing for good, though we could be wrong on this thinking. Lupa is a great restaurant and we are happy to see them open, and hopefully for a long time to go. We just got a new President, Joe Biden. We are all hoping and praying and wishing this horrible nightmare of the Covid 19 Pandemic would just go away (as Donald Trump said it would) and die. All everyone wants is to get back to normal. Well as normal as can be? We know many things will change for good, but we all want to go back to work full time and have things go the way they were going before this horrible Pandemic hit, "can we please?"
"Well Miss You"
and More ....