Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MY DAYS WITH REUBEN ...The SANDWICH by Daniel Bellino Zwicke


Wow, The Reuben Sandwich is The Hot new food Item 2012. This is great. The Reuben is one of my All-Time Favorites. So why haven't I had one in ages, I wonder? And why if I haven't had one in ages, that it's one of my All Time Faves? Well I'll tell you. Number one, when made right, it's "Dam Tasty." And I say made right, cause if you don't have the right person or right place makin them, "a lot can go wrong."
    So why is it one of my Favorites you ask, aside from it being so delicious? Well, The Reuben Sandwich takes my back to my youth, to my wonderful days at High School where I first discovered, made, and eat this wonderful thing. Wait a minute. No that's not where I discovered and first ate it, that's where I first made it, I'll tell you about that in a moment. Where I first discovered and ate it was at a restaurant I worked in as a busboy back in High School. It was the Moonraker Restaurant in Paramus New Jersey. Yeah, that's the place. I was working at this restaurant, the Reuben was on the menu and was one of the items we were aloud to order and eat for employee meal. How could I forget?
Well back to high School and making the Reuben. Me and a few of my buddy's loved food. OF course. Now there was a Cooking Class in our High School that only girls took. Guys were never in eat. Never ever! Now me and my buddy's as I've said love food and tow of us work in restaurants. Now we figure if we could get into this Cooking Class we can get to eat a lot of good food, learn to cook, and be a hit with the girls. We didn't care that no guys ever took this class before, just girls, we had "Balls" we didn't care what other people thought, we wanted to eat and we wanted to learn to cook. We signed up for the cooking class and we got in.
    Anyway, one day the teacher asked us if there was anything we wanted to learn how to cook. A few things were thrown out there, I don't remember the other items, but i threw out The REUBEN and guess what, that's what we all decided on that we were going to make. The teacher researched the Reuben. She gave us printed han outs on the Reuben. All ingredients were assembled; Pastrami, Rye Bread, Sauerkraut, Mustard and Swiss Cheese. We were ready to go, me my buddy John P. and this girl Debbie P that my buddy John P couldn't stand. She was skinny as hell but ate a lot of food, more than her fare share and it drove Johnny Boy crazy.
   Anyway, all ingredients were ready, we read the hand out instructions and went to town making our Reubens,. Exciting! I must say, they came out pretty good. We loved them and subsequently I made them a couple times at home. But guess what, I haven't had one of these lovely morsels of a sandwich in years. And guess what. Yeah, I saw the piece in Neww York Magazine this week about "Reintroducing The Reuben." It caught my eye. Especially the great pictures of Juicy Reubens. Dam it got me going. I wanted one. I read the article and decided I had to go. Go get a Reuben that it. Two things appealed to me as to the place I was going to get my Reuben Fix. Number one, I want a real classic Reuben, not some dumb alternative version of one, like a dumb ass Turkey or Chicken Reuben. Hey that's not a Reuben. I want the Real Thing, one on grilled Rye with either Pastrami or Corned Beef, both exceptable meats for the Reuben, although I lean more towards one made with Pastrami.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke


by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Had a REUBEN SANDWICH at the new Bowery Diner yesterday. Yumm, it was Dam Good. Succulent and tasty as I could have hoped for. Saw the piece in New York Magazine this week reintroducing the Reuben. There were some really juicy pictures that got my juices going and yearning for one of these tasty baby's. I had to get one, and I chose the recently opened Bowery Diner for four reasons. Number one, I'm an old diner from way back. Two, I had read about the Bowery Diner a few weeks ago and because as I said I'm a Diner lover from way back, I wanted to check it out. Three, it's in walking distance from my apartment, and four, the price, it wasn't $15 and up, not like some of the other ones, although it is more than $15 on dinner menu at The Bowery Diner, but at lunch it's just $8.75. Let was the deal closer. And there is actually a fifth reason, as I saw in the picture in NyMag and read about it, it was a Classic Old School Reuben, not some Dumb Ass version of a Reuben made with Chicken or Turkey. The Reuben at the Bowery Diner was Classic and Old School and really looked mouthwatering in that picture.
     So after my morning Coffee and reading the papers on Monday morning, I left the Cafe and started heading east on Prince Street and over to The Bowery, the street that is, of which is the namesake of the Diner. it was a nice brisk Winter's day. The Sun was out and it wasn't too cold, so I had a nice little walk.
   So I get over there and take a peek inside first. It looked pretty cool and it was kind of dead, I was a bit surprised. Thought it would be a little more lively. Maybe at night? One good thing about it not being busy, although I was by myself i should have any problem of getting a nice booth, cause when I'm in a diner, I just gotta sit in a booth. If not a booth, then at the counter but not a regular table. So I walked on in and was greeted by the hostess. I asked for a nice booth and she gave me on. Excellent. The waitress brought me a menu and asked if I wanted anything to drink besides the water. A Coffee please? She brought me a nice Cup of Joe and asked if I was ready to order. Ready to order? I new what I wanted two days ago. So I ordered my Reuben, and oh by the way, I'm hoping and wondering if this baby is going to be as good as it looked in the picture and of how I had been hoping in anticipation that it would. It arrived arrived ten or twelve minutes later and guess what? Hell Yeah! My Reuben Sandwich was every bit as succulent Tasty and Marvelous as I was dreaming it would be. It was downright "Outstanding," nice and juicy and succulent, perfectly toasted Rye Bread, nice melting Gruyere Cheese, Sauerkraut and most important of all a nice thick pile of Succulent Tasty Slightly Smokey, Just about perfect Pastrami. "I Love it." I was in 7th Heaven and ectsty with my Bad Ass Tasty Reuben.
     Well i gotta say, The Bowery Diner and new York Magazine with their little piece on the Reuben and the picture of the Bowery Diner's Reuben met my high expectations. So many times you get disappointed, but here I was thoroughly pleased, a Great Reuben, nice ambiance, and a real nice waitress taking care of me. Great service. And one other happy discovery I made on my way to the laboratory, they got a Cool Old Seeburg Jukebox. it's beautiful. i wanted to play a few tunes, remembrances of my childhood but the hostess said it wasn't hooked up yet. Let's hope it will be, cause it's always a lot of fun throwing quarters in those old baby's, watching your records picked from the pile, put on the turntable ans spun. Love It!
  So, it was quite a nice lunch at The Bowery Diner with My Reuben, the booth, a Cup of Joe and a Cool Old Jukebox, Check it!


Thursday, February 9, 2012


  Yes The New York Post is jumping on The Band Wagon proclaiming Percy's Pizza The Best $1.00 PIZZA in New York, and yes this is true. And I don't blame The Post for writing this piece and I'm glad they did, as let's face it, they have a lot more power and exposure than I, just let's not forget who "Discovered" this Gem first and who was the First to write about it and Proclaim It
"New York'S best $1.00 Pizza." ? Mwha! Yes I. Me writing the piece and making the proclamation way back in December 2011, more than 2 months before the New York Post's piece.
      For those of you who may have forgotten here it is, my Proclamation that Percy's Pizza is The Number One Undisputed Champion King Best $1.00 SLICE of PIZZA in New York. Look below.

Post in NyFoodee    ....  December 10, 2011 by Daniel Bellino Zwicke


The latest entry into the DOLLAR a SLICE PIZZA "PERCY'S PIZZA" on Dollar Slice is phenomenal. It's Top Notch and Superior to the likes of JOE'S PIZZA just a mere 200 feet away from this wonderful new establishment.
The Pizza at Percy's is just about absolute perfection. The way real pizza should be, perfect dough that is cooked to crisp perfection with just the right balance of tomato to cheese ratio. This slice is tasty, and at a Dollar a pop, one of New York's greatest culinary deals. And as for the other Buck a Slice guys, they just don't measure up. They're pretty good for a Dollar, but the slice at Percy's is Superior, even up against $2.75 a Slice joints like the famed Joe's Pizza just feet away. Percy's blows them away. They have a couple great Pizzaiolos, one from Sardegna, the other from Cairo of all places. Percy's is a simple unassuming place, that's nice and comfortable and serves up some of the Best Pizza in town, and at a Buck a Pop, you just can't beat it. I Love it, and hope it last.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Posted by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
on NyFoodee on Dec. 10, 2011
Pre Awning Picture of PERCY'S

phot0 Daniel Bellino Zwicke


photo Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


  Well, I went to the Italian Wine Masters Tasting at The Metropolitan Pavilion (New York, NY) yesterday. The Italian Wine Masters Tasting, better known to New York Italian Wine Guys like myself, as the Brunello Tasting, for this is thee Brunello Tasting of the year and second most important of the year after the Tre Biccheri next week. "The Brunello Tasting. Once Upon a time, not too long ago there was a tasting soley of Brunello. The past 3 years has seen the Brunello Tasting paired up with Chianti and Vino Nobile. Sadly this has brought the prominance and overall quality of Thee Brunello Tasting, way down. Not that I'm against drinking Vino Nobile, Prosecco, and Chianti which is now tagged on to The Brunello Tasting, no, but I can drink these wonderful wines at another tasting. And I do. With the Brunello's coupled with these other wines, instead of getting about 150 Brunello producers, you get just 38. Thirty-Eight
      Great Brunello's of the day were: one of my All-Time Favorites, Fattori Barbi Brunello Riserva 2006 "Awesome," the Brunello Castelgiocondo 2007 from friend Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi of The Nobel Florentine family The Frescobaldi's, This wine was quite tasty, also from the Frescobaldi Family their Brunello Di Montalcino "Luce della Vite" 2007 is absolutely "Superb,"
    The Conti Cinzano who owns the Col D'Orcia Estate in Montalcino had the most amazing line-up of the day as he brought a Vertical of multi vintages of Brunello of which the Brunello Poggio Vento Riserva 1995 won my prize of Most outstanding Brunello of the day. Absolutely "Amazing" and I didn't want to put my glass down after taking three wonderful mouthfuls. Outstanding! Thank You for the special treat oh Conti. And I msut point out that this was a special tasting from the Count Cinzano as this was the release of the 2007 Brunello's and 2006 Riserva counterparts, the 1995 Brunello Poggio Vento was outside the box of the tasting. Of the released date Brunello's the Frescobaldi CastelGiacondo Brunello 2007 gets my vote for Best Normale and top Prize riserva goes to Fattoria Barbi for their Riserva 2006.
  A lot of lovely wines on the day, and looking forward to next year as i received some inside information yesterday that The Brunello tasting is going back to the format it is best at at most loved for, solely Brunello.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Best in SHOW

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Italian Wine Masters "Brunello Tasting" in New York today, February 7, 2012. Today we get to taste one of the greatest Brunello Vintages ever, the 2007 Brunello di Montalcino's are being released and shown at The Italian Masters Tasting in New York. The may very well be one of the greatest tastings ever, with those of us fortunate enough to be at this tasting, we will be drinking the great 2007 Brunello along with the Brunello Riserva's 2006 which are also released and shown today. Wow! And if that wasn't enough we will also be tasting Vino Nobile and some wonderful iconic Chianti as well. That's a lot of Sangiovese. This guys favorite grape. And what's more,
The New York Giants just won their Fourth Super Bowl Victory and are having a Victory
Ticker-Tape Parade in Lower Manhattan at The Canyon of Heroes as we speak. Excuse me, Write.
   What a day in New York.
      Well, heading up to the Brunello Tasting in about an hour. Will report back tomorrow.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

WOW !!!

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