Thursday, February 2, 2012


Had a couple good Brunello's last night, a 2006 Piancornello and from one of Brunello's great vintages the 1999 La Poderina "Poggio Banale" Brunello Di Montalcino, a single vineyard Brunello.
Well the 1999 vintage Brunello's is one of the most famous and one of my favorites. The 99 Banale was quite nice and really full of life. i was suprised at it's power at this point in time, being about 12 years old. I liked the wine, but it didn't really knock me out of my socks, quite good but not memorable, missing that perfect or near perfect balance that makes a wine extra pleasurable and a joy to drink. The Brunello "Poggio Banale" 1999 just din't have it. "Don't get me wrong, the wine was good, just not thrilling" as I hope and thought it would be as we pulled it and anticipation of drinking it. Our anticipation was high, but the wine though very good, "did not delivery on our high expectations of #1 a Brunello of a Great Vintage, #2 A Single Vineyard, and #3 that it was 12 years old, a perfect age for drinking great Brunello's."
     Now the Brunello Di Montalcino Piancornello 2006 on the other hand was a suprise. A nice surprise. This wine was perfectly balance and a pleasure to drink, and I definately enjoy it more than the more esteemed Poggio Banale 1999. A lesson to be learned. Though "On Paper" one wine may appear great, wonderful, whatever, that might not be the case. The only way to tell, is, to Tatse It, "The Prood Will Be in The Pudding."

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke


photo  Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Passes Away Age 84 R.I.P.

The Maestro of Amarone, Prince of Negar, the great Giuseppe Quintarelli died at his home in Negar, Italy on Sunday at the age of 84. A very sad day in the World of Italian Wine. Mr. Quintarelli was the Maestro of Amarone. Many would say he alone sat at the top of the Throne of this, one of Italy's greatest wines. Yes there are other great producers of the esteemed Amarone, producers such as Masi, Serego Alighieri, Bertani, Sergio Zenato, and others, but it was Giuseppe Quintarelli who was considered the King. These sentiments felt by his aforementioned peers, wine writers and publications, Sommeliers, collectors and all who were seriously into great Italian Wine.
      I know a good many of the people making the most renowned Amarones in and around Lake Garda in the Veneto, people like Marilisa Allegrini, Sergio Zenato, the Basciani's of Masi and others. I never did have the good fortune to meet Mr. Giuseppe Quintarelli, though I drank his wonderful wines on numerous occasions and I did try to meet him one day. The day in question was one fine April day in 2001. It was right after the famed Italian Wine Exposition of Vinitaly (in Verona every April) had ended.
    As is my custom when I attend Vinitaly, I go to verona and the show for 2 or 3 days, see my friends (Italian Wine Producers), Eat Drink Eat and Drink and make plans with some of these friends to visit them at their wine estates in Valpolicella Classico, Peimonte, Montalcino, and or Chianti Classico the days following the ending of Vinitaly. So the day directly after Vinitaly ended in 2001 my friend Jimmy and I went off to Lago De Garda to see some producers on their estates.  We check out of our hotel in Verona (The Arena) went to a Salumeria and picked up a 6 pack of Aqua Mineral and Salami for the road. We got into the rented Scotto Fabia and made our way toward Lake Garda and the region of Valpolicell Classico, the region where they make Bardolino, Valpolicell, Amarone, and Valpolicella Recioto.
   We pulled into the town of Garda directly on the lake and had breakfast in one of the large caffes on the lake. We discussed what we would do, and I said I just have to meet The King of Amarone Giuseppe Quintarelli. We would go to th town of Negar and look for him. I never met him as for several reasons, the biggest being that the man who represents him Robert Chadderon is one of the "Biggest Assholes in The World of Wine," and I'm not the only one who feels this way. Look in biography of Robert Parker "The Prince of Wine" ask anyone in the business and the will tell you the same "Robert Chadderon
Is An Asshole" plain and simple. Being in the business, at numerous tastings, Wine Luncheons and Dinners and doing business on a daily business, whenever you bring up Chadderon's name, eyes roll and you find out another who can't stand the guy.
   So some of the reasons I had never met Mr. Quintarelli, and I know just about everyone in the Italian wine business, is mainly that Robert Chadderon imports imports and distributes Quintarelli Wines and as for myself and numerous others we do not do business with that Ass, Quintarelli or not.
     So we were in Valpolicella Classico, and I tell my buddy Jimmy, we have to go to Negar, go to the Quintarelli Estate and meet the man. Well easier said than done. We finished our breakfast, went next door and bought some Speck and Garda Olive Oil (the most Northern produced olive oil in the World), we jumped in our rented car and it was off to Negar a few miles away. We got into the center of town. We asked one person after the next where Quintarelli was? Evryone said they didn't know. One after the other. We drove around and drove around. We drove up into the mountains. We came upon a rural bar way up into the mountains, clouds all around. We walked in. I'm sure we were probably the only Americans ever in this bar. In the sticks, a hamlet. We had a glass of Tocai each. We asked for Quintarelli, like tight lips hiding a Mafiosa know one knew.  Ok, "we give up." Finding Quintarelli was not to be.
     We drove to the estate of Serego Aligheri were they produce, in my mind thee best Amarones around. The estate is beautiful, we walked among the vines, toured the ancient Cellars which are one of the few left to have large Cherry Wood Cask, and the wine age just amazingly in these vessels. They are like no other wood at all. The pores of the wood are large than those of oak wood, thus the wine is able to age a little faster in the same amount of time. The wines are absolutely wonderful. We had a little tasting at the cellars, picked up a couple bottles each, then headed  to the town of Bardolino. Earlier Jimmy asked me what was the best thing to eat while in Garda. I told him the only thing to get was some fresh lake trout (Trota). By the time we had driven all around Garda, wnet way up into the mountains, almost to Trentino, then went to Serego and back to the shores of Lake Garda we were both quite hungry and ready for our Trota, but it was not to be. When we got to Bardolino, we couldn't find one restaurant or trattoria open for business. We had to settle for Gelato at a Gelateria. There was to be no Trota in Bardolino. Jimmy was quite mad, so when we jumped in the car to drive down to Bologna and as we drove threw the town, Jimmy shouted out the window "No Trota." Yes, we couldn't find Quintarelli and there was "No Trota" as well.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Monday, November 21, 2011

Di Fara Pizza ... A Religious Experience

Yes," Eating Pizza Made by The Maestro DOM DeMARCO
Is a Religious Experience !!!

   Much has been said of the now famed Pizzeria (DiFara Pizza) on Avenue J in Brooklyn, New York the Capital of Thee Best Pizza in the whole United States of America, bar-none, even Manhattan. Brooklyn lays claim to the Top two Pizzerias in the country, the top of the list 1 and 2, number 1, The Best and number 2, the second best. Well no, I don't know if I should put it that way, as it sound s as one is better than the other, which is not ht e case, as they are both equally good, equally Great and equally the Best Pizza and the Best Pizzerias in the United States, though they are are little different than one another. The Pizza at both Totonno's on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York  and Di Farra Pizza on Avenue J in Brooklyn are both otherworldly specimens  of some the Finest Pizza on other and the Undisputed Best Pizza in America.
   Wow, got off on a tangent about both Di Farra and Totonno's when I just intended to talk about Di Farra Pizza, Dom DeMarco the Maestro of Di Farra's and the Religious experience that it is to go there, watch Dominic masterfully make Pizza after glorious Pizza (without the help of anyone else), to watch in awe and anticipation and Salivation til you finally get yours (after about a hour or hour and a half wait), you hold it in your hand like a precious baby, and then to sink your teeth into it, savoring each wondrous bite after the other. "Yes," it is truly a religious experience, that is, if you are a great lover of this wonderful invention, created in Napoli, spread throughout the the Italian Peninsular and then across the Atlantic to America from Italian Immigrants where Gennaro Lombardi opened the First Pizzeria in America on Prince Street in New York City some 100 years ago or so.
    Back to Di Farra and Pizzaiolo Extraordinaire, Mr. Dominic DeMarco. It is Dominic that makes Di Farra what it is, it certainly isn't the Pizzeria itself which is ultra plain and even appalling to some. Mr. DeMarco's pizzas are just about as close to absolute perfection in the Pizza Making World, a world in which New York City excels and has only one rival in Naples, Italy and the whole of Italy itself. Mr. De Marco has the magic touch, with perfect dough, the perfect balance of ingredients, tomato and other ingredient ratio to cheese, and this include Mr. Demarcos judicious use of Olive Oil which is right-on and a little magic touch that whoever complains about it, just does not know there Pizza and Italian Food on a whole. We Italians love our olive oil. And those who complain are unaware that it is a condiment that adds the final last touch to many dishes before they are eaten. Dominic knows this and should not be discourage against his generous use of it by those who do not understand the proper essence of the Italian Table. So please, keep your traps shut, if you don't like it don't eat it, this countries finest examples of the Pizza Art.
     And on to the religious experience of Di Fara, Dom DeMarco and the mans artistry with Pizza. There is nothing quite like it in the entire Pizza World. There does not exist, to my knowledge any place in the world that has an elderly man making a hundred plus Pizzas a day in a place that has endless lines, day and night. Pizza that are so perfect, words can not describe  People line up for greatness and artistry, and for a couple of slices of the most marvelous pizza this side of Naples, and to watch this passionate little old man work his heart out, not getting, not allowing anyone else to make a pie at his beloved Pizzeria. The man is elderly. He's worked his whole life. He makes such a magical thing that people line up each and every day to see him and eat one of his many masterpieces. With business like this, he could hire to other Pizzaiolos to help him, doubling or tripling his business and and financial intake. He could hire two guys and make pizza aloing with them, or sit back and get three guys to do it. At his age, he's entitled to. But know, Dom DeMarco loves what he does, he loves his Pizza, each and every one that passes that counter and into thousands of appreciative hands. The man feels that no one else can make a Pizza the way he does; and wants; he grinds   
chunks of Peceriono Romano in an old hand cranked meat grinder and sprinkles on each pie just before serving, along with cutting fresh Basil onto the Pizza at the last moment after Dom's prerequisite drizzling of the Olive Oil giving two different taste and contrast on the same pie, one baked on (Cheese) and one applied at the last moment, devoid of the hot oven heat. Dom guilds the Lilly, so to speak. This is truth, not just a figure of speech.
    Yes Dom makes each and every Pizza that goes out or is consume on the spot, at DiFarra's. No one else has his skills, his passion and love for the Pizza, thus he does it all himself. And this my friends is the reason that going to Di Farra's to watch Dominic the maestro in action, all by himself while hundreds of people line up every day, waiting an hour and a half to two hours just to get a Pizza (not just any old Pizza mind you). "It's a Religious Experience." Truly! A show and there is nothing like it in the World, Dom DeMarco, a man and his Pizza, America's Best, and something to rival that other World Pizza Capital, Napoli.

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Wednesday, February 2, 2011



    There has long been a debate, fights, and Mud-Slinging in regards to Italian and Italian-American
food served in restaurants in New York and the rest of the U.S.. Culinary Snobs, people who "Think" they know what they are talking about and what not. I can set the record straight, being an
 Italian-American who has been eating Italian and Italian-American food for more than forty years, who has been professional Chef and someone who has eaten all over Italy on some 15 trips to the great peninsular. In addition to studying Italian Food in Italy for some 25 years, I am constantly reading all sorts of articles , cookbooks, and historical facts on this subject, in addition to being one of the countries foremost authorities on Italian Wine.
   Anyway, let me tell you. I myself was once a uninformed Food Snob who badmouthed and was slightly disdainful of unauthentic Italian food being served in restaurants all over the city. That's just in restaurants. Of course I Loved eating Sunday Sauce, Eggplant Parmigiano, and Meatballs that my aunts made at our frequent family get together s. And on the occasions that we weren't at one of the family's homes but in an Italian restaurant in Lodi or Garfield, I usually ordered Chicken  or Veal Parmigiano. Yes I loved it, but these dishes, for me at the time (1985-1993) had their place, and it was not in the kitchen or on the plates of any serious Italian Restaurant in Manhattan.
   Eventually as I learned more of the history of food in New York, Italy, and the World, I realized that there was actually a real true Italian-American Cuisine and that it was completely valid.
  Do you realize that if you think there is not a true valid Italian-American Cuisine, then you also must concede that there is No True French Cuisine, because the origins of what we now know as French food and Cuisine is really Italian. Yes, I said Italian. For the food and cuisine of French was quite primitive and did not begin to form into what we now know as French Food and French Cuisine until Caterina Medici of the Noble Florentine Family of the Medici married the King of France and brought her Florentine Chefs with her to the French Court way back in the 15th Century. So there. Many dishes which most people think of as French in origin, like Duck ala Orange, Bechamel, and others, are really Italian. "So there!"
   Anyway, back to Italian-American food. Food and cuisines are constantly changing and evolving. This is how Florentine Chefs of Italy, went to France with the newly crowned French Queen who was of the Italian Peninsular in one Katherine Medici  and taught the French how to cook. Thus Italians immigrating to the United States in the early 20th Century brought their ingredients and techniques from mother Italy to cook the dishes from their homeland, with some modifications do to financial issues (being poor) and the unavailability of certain ingredients, and started forming what would one day be known as Italian-American  food (Cuisine).

"to be Continued"

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"SPAM" BACON and Taylor Ham !!!!


Pork and Why do I Love all Products Made from it So! Spareribs are the "Best," Bacon, Sausages, Pork Chops, Ham, Spam, McRibs, and? Yes I Love them all so! And Why? Why? What else? They're Tasty! It's Tasty! Pork and all things made from it. I Pity Vegetarians and Others who do not eat it, Pork, Ham, and Spam.

Robin Raisfeld in her story "Trendlet: It's Baloney," this week in New York spark my interest when I say the big beautiful picture of a slice of tasty Mortadella, "King of All Baloneys."

As I read farther into the article, I was so happy to see a picture of a gorgeous "Taylor Ham and Egg Sandwich." And it immediately brought out the in Jerseyite in me. As anyone who grew up or ever lived in New Jersey, they'll tell you of their Love of "Taylor Ham," the unofficial "State Meat." Taylor Ham? Why? Well, first off, Taylor Ham was invented in Trenton New Jersey. It's super tasty. Jerseyites and former ones (like Me) Love it, and you can only get it in New Jersey. More or less. Why? I don't know. Can Jerseyites be smarter than New Yorkers who have never caught on to this wonderful Pork product from the Garden State. After moving to New York some 26 years ago, besides from missing my family, my only other regret of leaving New Jersey, is missing and yearning for my beloved Taylor Ham. You just can't get it in the Big City. Well, hardly ever. Do New Yorkers not like it? Is it reserved for Jerseyites only? Don't know! All I know is I miss it inside a Taylor Ham and Egg Sandwich or on my breakfast plate accompanying a couple fried eggs.


Reading the article and be reminded of my "Long Lost Love," Taylor Ham, I'm also painfully reminded of another recent dumping by a Loved one. That being my beloved "McRib." How I Love it so! After a brief Love Affair with her, way back in 1989. She disappeared! Why? I do not know. And for some 21 years. And then one lovely day last year. It was in October, what day I do not know. She reappeared. Back into my life once again. And the Love Affair was on again. On my part like it never ended. I Loved, as much and more than ever. Forgiving her and not think of the long cruel Separation brought on by her. She had deserted me. But I didn't care. We got together more than 20 times this passed October, November, and was it a few days into December? I do not know. Once again, my beloved McRib disappeared. Into a dark December night. Why? I do not know? I only know that however long it may take. I'l wait. Just please my Love, do not make it another 21 years. My beloved McRib.

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke






Monday, January 31, 2011


There was a guy named Daniel who took a trip in 1995 to Explore, seek-out, and Study the BACARI (Venetian Wine Bars) of the Magical City of VENICE, Italy. He had read a article in the New York Times about these treasures of the Enchanted City of the Adriatic, "La Serinisima" Venice, "or as the Italians say VENENZIA."
   Daniel was quite intrigued by this little article. It was only 1 page long, but it was magical, and it sparked Daniel's interest enough that he decided he would go to Venice, an Exploritory Trip by which he in a weeks time would go to as many Bacari as he possibly could, eating Lunch, inbetween Lunch, Dinner and all through each and every night of the week. he tried as much CICHETTI (Venetian Tapas-Like little plates of all sorts of Venetian Specialty Foods.
Daniel ate Bacala Mantecato, Sarde en Soar, Bigoli, Fegato alla Venenzian, Riso Bisi, Mortadella, Speck, and all sorts of other Cichetti, Antipasti, Pasta, Fish, Shell Fish, Meat, Poultry, this that and every other thing he could get his hands (Mouth) on. Before he went, he did as much Pre-Trip Research as was possible in the "Times Previous to the internet"
When Daniel was in Venice, he asked as many questions as he could, striking up conversations with anyone who would listen, "many did." !!!!
 Daniel took lots of pictures, ate, drank Wine, and gather recipes. He was smitten with Venice, its Wine Bars (Bacari, BACARO the singular).
Daniel "Fell in Love," with the Wine Bars (Bacari) of Venice and felt he just had to open one in NEW YORK. He vowed. Knowone had ever done it. He would be the "FIRST" Daniel gathered all his info, his RECIPES, pictures, book, everything. He worked on all his recipes, cooking constantly for Friends and Family, he made a Business Plan. He found a partner who "Loved the Idea" as well. They shook hands and vowed to open "BAR CICHETTI" the BACARO (FIRST VENETIAN WINE BAR) "EVER in the United STATES.
  Daniel and Tom created a BEAUTIFUL BACARO/ TRATTORIA, with special Imported Venetian Fabric for the banquettes, wainscotting, 
a beautiful Wood Bar, and fabulous Venetian Glass Chandeliers and scones.
   Besides coming up the Idea and Concept of Bar Cichetti, Daniel was the Wine Director andExcecutive Chef. Daniel's food was incrediable.His CAPONATA was the best in town, his Paparadelle with Duck Ragu was justifiably Famous, and as theJournal of Italian Food and Wine stated, hisBolognese Sauce was considered to be one of the "Best in the Country" Daniel garnered many accolades for the Wine List he created, but especially for his true and tasty Regional Italian Cusine, gaining positive reveiws from "The New York Times"New York Magazine, Crains, TimeOut New York, Wine and Spirits Magazine, and even a 5 Page Color Spread in a Newspaper in Sao Paolo, BRAZIL.

by Robert Roma 2009

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"CORNER BISTRO" BEST Cheeseburger # 1 in NEW YORK

Happy to see Corner Bistro's Burger can still make it to # 1 Best of New York list these days. I've been eating Cheeseburgers there since 1984. Yes 26 Years of Bistro Burgers. Back then, the Burger at the Corner Bistro was for Year-After-Year thee perennial favorite, # 1, Top, Best Burger in New York, rated by the Top and most Powerful food Authorities of the day, New York Magazine, The NY Times, Cue Magazine, The Post, The Village Voice, GQ, Bob Lape on 7's Eyewitness News, The Daily News, so on and so forth. Nine out of ten people, newspapers, and news agency's, The Bistro Burger was always "Tops," # 1. It no longer is. And it was tops for some 30 years. Quite a run. Sadly the quality of the Burger has gone down a bit, and there are numerous chemistry better, tastier Burgers in town. Shake Shack get my Vote for the Top, New York's best Burger, with Bills Bar and Burger and Peter Luger not far behind. But the Shake Shack Burger has all the proper elements that come together and make for perfect chemistry of, dear I say, "The Perfect Burger." Well if not the perfect Burger, New York's Best, or at least amongst the Best, everyone has their opinion. Some not as qualified as others. As I've been eating the East Coast's Best Burgers since childhood, and being a former Chef Culinary Professional, I have greater qualifications than most.
The Shake Shack Burgers elements that make it so good, are: Top Quality Beef, Just the right size and thickness, not too thin nor too thick, which unfortunately many think makes a burger is better, the thicker it is. Not so. A 6 oz., 3/4" Burger is Best and it has to be cooked on a Flat-Top Grill cooking in its own fat to qualify amongst the best. Cooking on a grated grill, just won't do. You'll often get terribly overcooked hard spots, losing all important beef fat for the burger to cook in. You'll need a good hamburger bun, toasted preferred, not too fancy, and a major No-No is the use of an English Muffin. Though i Love them for breakfast, English Muffins are a terrible choice, pairing to a Burger. the Burger has to be properly cooked
And one of thee most important rules to a great Burger, it can't cost more than $6.50, and about $4.50 is even better. The Shake Shake burger meets all these requirements, even exceeding them.
Back to the Bistro Burger. For nostalgias sake and Price to value ratio, combined with the great old New York Bar ambiance, The Bistro Burger always makes it on my Top 10 List. As the Post states, to be able to get a great burger for just $6.50 with Beers at $2.75 in one of New York's few remaining Bohemian Bars, and in Greenwich Village? A combination that just can't be beat.
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke