Thursday, February 16, 2012


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"

Daniel Bellino Zwicke


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Yes Italian Wine mavens. It's that time of the year again. Wow, another year gone by. It's the 2012 Tre Bicchieri Tasting New York, the years most prestigious Italian Wine Event of all. It is this friday February 17 at the Metropolitan Pavillion on West 18th Street and if you don't have an invite or in, forget about getting in. Security is tight at this one, sponsored by Gambero Rosso the Wine Spectator/Robert Parker of Italy and Italian Food and Wine all rolled into one. What is
Tre Biccieri? Well first off it translates to Three Glasses., and this is the system for rating the top wines in Italy by the famed Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Italian Wine Guide compile and published each year by Gamabero Rosso Publications. Italy's top wines are here. Gambero Rosso rates the wines on a 1, 2, and 3 glass system as opposed to others like Robert Parker and WIne Spectator which uses a 100 Point System. So at the Tre Bicchieri Tasting, all of the Tre Bicchieri (3 Glass Wines) Wines will be on hand.
   For an Italian Wine Guy like me, this is my favorite event of the year and although I love and enjoy all the great wines, it's actually more of a social event for me. I get to see my many friends from Italy, winemakers, but mostly the proprietors of the many wine estates on hand. It's just great!
   Needless to say there are going to be many great wines on hand including; Sassicaia 2008, Turiga 2007, Donnafugat "Ben Rye" 2009 from good friend Antonio Rallo, Barolo "Monfortino" Riserva 2004 from Giacomo Conterno (Considered by many Thee Top Dog of All Barolo), Vietti Barolo Villero Riserva 2004, Mastroberadino Taurasi Radici 2007,  Rosso del Conte Tasc d'Almerita 2007 from good friend Conte Giuseppe Tasca, Masi Amrone "Vaio" 2006, Planeta's "Plumbago" (Nero d'Avola), and many more. To many to mention here. Yes a lot of great wines, looking forward to tasting as many as I can, but even more so, seeing the many friends who make these wines, especially, Francesca Planeta, Sebastiano Rosa of Sassicaia fame, Merielisa Allegrini, Antonio Rallo, Giampaulo Venical with his great Sauvignon Blanc "Ronco de Mele," Rafaella Bologna with her renowned Barbera "Bricco dell' Uccellone 2009 and many more.As always, this is going to be a great event, Great Wines and Great Friends from the whole of Thee Italian Peninsular. Can't wait!

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