Chianti Comes To Town


Sassello and awesome reserve production CHianti from Castello Verrazzano

by Luigi Cappellini


Daniel Bellino-Zwicke and Cavalier Luigi Cappellini of Castello Verrazzano at DeGrzia Restaurant

New York  …

Yes Chianti came to town the other day. The town? New York City. The Chianti, Castello Verrazzanno … Luigi Cappellini of Castello Verrazzano (Owner) visited with me and tasted me on his latest offerings from his equisite wine estate in Greve in Chianti Classico .. Chianti Classico is the great wine region in Tuscany that produces Italy’s most storied wine “Chianti” along with Vin Santo and porprietory Super Tuscan Wines .. Mr. Cappellini is the proud owner of one of Chianti Classico’s and Italy’s finest most beautiful wine estates. They produce three different Chianti wines; a Chianti normale, Chianti Riserva, and a special limited edition Cru Chianti in Sassello which was formally bottled as a Super Tuscan but has by a good choice of Mr. Cappellini been made and classified into Chianti Classico Riserva status. Luigi brought the Sassello to me to taste along with other fine wines. Let me tell you, when I tasted the Sassello, it blew my wine. The “Sassello” Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 is one of the finest wines that I have tasted of a few thousand wines this year. The wine has everything going on for it, and I’m not going to go into some drrwn out boring discription other than to say it was delicious, tasty, “In Perfect Balance,” and just one of those extra special wines. I love it, and ordered 2 6 packs on the spot. We have many great wines in our extensive cellars of Big Names of great prestige and storied vintages, and I can easily say, that when we take delivery of this wine next week it will be among our greatest wines in our cellars of a couple thousand, the wine is great as great can be, “Basta!”

Luigi also brought his 2009 Chianti  normale and Chianti Reserva 2007, both quite tasty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t tasted on their (Verrazzano’s) great Vin Santo, which I’ve drank on numerous occasions in Greve at the Verrazzano Estate .. I wasn’t tasted on it, as the importer Palm Bay does not import that particular wine from Verrazzano, but I can tell you from experience, the wine is nutty, lush, and just perfect …

One wine that Luigi tasted me on and of which I just bought 2 cases as I love it, is a wine called Verrazzano Rosso, with a subtitle of MiniTuscan … The wine is super tasty and very affordable … It is made of Sangiovese, Cannaiolo, Mavasia, and a tiny bit of Trebbiano. This wine is made in the classic true old style of Chianti of which white grapes were allowed in the blend of mostly Sangiovese Grapes along with the native Cannaiolo, and white native grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia. The wine is quite tasty of medium body and ripe as well as a tad of bitter fruit flavors. As I said, this wine as made in the way that Chianti used to be made with native grapes of the Chianti Classico wine region. The laws and rules of what is a Chianti Classico by the law of the Italian Goverment and Chianti Consorzio were changed in 1996 to incude the sacraligious inclusion of international grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon … For those who know me, they know I distane this practice along with a few other people who are Chinati lovers and purest. We wish for the laws to change back and exclude all “non-native Grapes” like Merlot, Cabernet Suavignon and any others, and for Chianti to incude only native grapes and a blend of mostly Sangiovese and including small amounts of native grapes like; Cannaiolo, Colorino, Malvasia Nero, and very tiny amounts if a property so chooses of the white grapes of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianco. This is true CHianti and the kind of Chianti Luigi Cappellini makes at the Verrazzano Estate.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke



"La TAVOLA" is Greenwich Village Italian by Daniel Bellino Zwicke

“La TAVOLA” is Greenwich Village Italian by Daniel Bellino Zwicke




The Bellino’s  “My Granparents Philipo & Josephina Bellino with My Mother “Lucia” and Uncle Tony  …. Lodi, New Jersey, probably late 1940’s or early 1950’s

Picture of The Bellino Family, Lodi, New Jersey, possibly late 1940s or early 1950s .. From left to right, Grandpa Philipo Bellino, Mommy, Lucia Bellino, Uncle Tony, “Tony Bellino” and Grandma Josephina Bellino … Not pictured, Lucy and Tony’s sister Lilly and Brothers James and Frank Bellino. My Grandparents came to America through Ellis Island in 1904 from Lecara Freddi, Sicily, Italy … Lecara Freddi is the same town the Sinatra Family are from, as well as famed gangster Lucky Luciano. Lecara Freddi is not far from Corleone, about 17 miles.
My Grandfather had a Shoemaker Shop on Main Street in Lodi, and my Grandparents, Mother, and my aunts and uncles.




Read About Italian-American New York & New Jersey in SICILIAN AMERICAN NEW YORKER'S Danile Bellino-Zwicke's "La TAVOLA"

Read About Italian-American New York & New Jersey in SICILIAN AMERICAN NEW YORKER’S Danile Bellino-Zwicke’s “La TAVOLA”





Cubano, Sandwich Cubano, Cuban Sandwich, it’s a marvel, and one of The World’s Great Sandwiches. It’s absolutely amazing. I’ve been extolling its virtues for years. 27 to be exact, as I had my first way back in 1986, thanks to by good buddy and fellow cook (back then) John Lee .. He knew about them and turned me on to them, and it’s been a Love Affair with the “Sandwich” ever since. And speaking of the single word “Sandwich” this is what’s it was known of originally in Cuba, a Sandwich. in Cuba you wouldn’t call a sandwich a Cuban Sandwich or Sandwich Cubano, all though now some do, as the Cubans have picked up on the American and Cuban-American term for this wonderful sandwich the Sandwich Cubano.

OK, so what is it you say? Well, it’s a marvel and without question one of the World’s Great Sandwiches, right up there with; Pastrami, Roast Beef, Sausage & Peppers, the Croque Monsieur, and The Central Grocery Muffuletta. The Cuban Sandwich consists of; slices of Roast Pork Leg, Ham, Swiss Cheese, thin slices of Pickle and Mayonnaise on Cuban Water Bread. Some put on Mustard and though i love the stuff, for me it throws off the balance of the sandwich, but? Anyway, the main ingredient inside the Cubano is the roast fresh Pork Leg, a Slice of Swiss Cheese and some boiled Ham with a couple then slices of Pickle and mayonnaise  please leave off the mustard. These ingredients go in-between Cuban Water Bread a long bread that looks much like French Bread, though a bit less crisp. Less crisp before the sandwich is made that is, as one of the great features of this wonderfully amazing sandwich is that once it is filled it is put on a plancha. This is an electric sort of grill, much like the modern day Panini-Press. The sandwich is put into this press for about 8-10 minutes until the bread gets a nice crunchy slightly brown crust. All the ingredients heat up nicely in the press and when it’s done, the maker cuts it in half with a nice angular cut, and Voila, get ready for one of life’s great culinary treats, The Sandwich Cubano.

When I started eating these puppy’s way back in 86, I used to eat them mainly at one of 3 places. The Casa De Jagua on Rivington Street in New York’s Lower East Side, another place around the corner on Essex Street which sadly no longer exists, and at Chelsea Havana (still open), another place my good buddy John Lee turned me on to. Back then, not many (non-Hispanics) knew of this great sandwich which was sold at Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican Diners (Loncherias), some would think of as Latin Greasy Spoons. It seemed as though Caucasians were afraid of these places, or whatever and would never set foot in them. I delighted in taking as many white-people as I could to these places, simply because the food and ambiance were wonderful and the prices quite nice. many have thanked me for doing so, and I say that the pleasure was all mine and always has been to turn people on to places, different foods, and to cook for them myself as well.

Even to this day there are still many who have never delighted in this great culinary marvel. percentage wise many more people have eaten Cubanos as compared to back then, but still there are many who have not. So all I can say is, if you’re ready this, and have never had one, a Cubano, “What The Hell Are You Waiting For?” don’t be left around, get thee to a good Cuban, Dominican, or Puerto Rican Restaurant, order a Cubano and enjoy. As Tony Montana would say, “The World Is Yours Chico.”


My Buddy Don Daniele at Home in Havana .. 








NEW YORK TIMES   3 STARS   of Possible 4  … Pete Wells

NEW YORK POST 2 STARS of Possible 4 .. Steve Cuozzo


THE NEW YORK OBSERVER …. Joshua David Stein says “Carbone Makes a Case Greatness In A Red Sauce Joint”

GAEL GREEME The Insatiable Critic Gives CARBONE (Greenwich Village) High Marks After Going to “Wrong Carbone” in Hells Kitchen ...

BLOGS OVERALL:  Most like or Love Carbone. Some Don’t, but Carbone defiantely comes out on the Plus Side with Bloggers.









Mangia Bene!

Mangia Bene!


Yes there was a Triple Header of Brunello the other day. Well two days and for me any way. The Main Event of Benvenuto Brunello, or as we New York Italian Wine People call it, simply “The Brunello Tasting” which is held every year in New York and a few other chosen cities around the globe. The tasting is for the release of the latest and current vintage of one of Italy’s and the World’s Great Wines, Brunello di Montalcino … Wines made of 100% Snagiovese Grosso aka Brunello. Wine made only in Montalcino (nowhere else in the World). Wine made in the highest standards of wine-making and according to the standards and specifications of The Consorzio Del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino and the Italian Goverment.  Brunello must be aged for 2 years in oak barels and 2 years in bottle before being released 4 years after the vintage and 5 years for Brunello deemed Riserva. Thus at this Brunello Tasting in 2013, The Brunello Consorzio and its producers of which 52 of more than 200 were represented on January 31, 2013 at New York’s Gotham Hall (A Regal Setting). So at the 2013 Brunello Tasting we are tasting the 2008 Vintage Brunello, along with the 2007 Brunello Riserva, along with Rosso di Montalcino 2010, Moscadello, and other proprietary wines (Super Tuscans). 

So The Brunello Triple Header, you ask? This is my phrase for my two days of events during Benvenuto Brunello 2013 .. Game 1 of the triple-header is Benevenuto Brunello (The Brunello Tasting) itself and as a whole, a wonderful thing in itself and much anticipated by any and all Italian Wine Geeks as myself. Well I normally don’t use that term for myself, in fact I never have. This is the first time, only done to make a point in just a couple words “Wine Geek.” 

 OK, that’s that. Game 2 of The Brunello Triple Header is the Brunello Seminar-Tasting conducted by Kevin Zraly. It was a marvelous and memorable event for all of the lucky few able to wrangle a seat. Yes, it was! Marvelous!

Brunello Triple-Header Game 3 ? Not for the 100 or so few seats at Kevin Zralys Brunello Seminar, nor the, I guess 2 to 3 thousand people who attended the larger Brunello Tasting, Benvenuto Brunello. Game 3 was a private Tasting of the wonderful Brunello of The Count Francesco Maroni Cinzano from his World Renowned Estate “Col D’Orcia” in Montalcino. We tasted through 8 of the Counts fine wines, which include; Rosso di Montalcino 2010, Brunello Col D’Orcia 2008, the current vintage and featured wine of Benvenuto Brunello. The Count then tasted me on the fine Col D’Orcia Brunello 2001, and then his Brunello Poggio Vento 2004. Stop! Wow! Do you know what Wow means, in wine-speak? Well it means Wow, “This is Phenomenal! It doesn’t get better than this.” I was bold over by this wine, the Poggio Vento Brunello Riserva 2004. The Count told me that the wine was just released. OK, now, at this point in time, January 2013 Montalcino is releasing the 2008 Brunello and 2007 Riservas. Poggio Vento is a Brunello Riserva that is not released after the 5 years require, but 3 years later, for a total of 8 years aging before the wine is released from The Col D’Orcia Estate and ready for sale. And let me tell you, this wine is something special. A Perfect Brunello that any other Brunello could aspire to. Naturally this wine was started in the vineyard with meticulous care of the vines of which produced perfect Brunello Grapes (Sangiovese Grosso). I know this, as this wine could not be as great as it is without perfect fruit. Or if not perfect, for those who might think there is “no perfect,” then as close to perfection that is at all possible. It was acheived in the grapes that went into Count Cinzano’s Brunello Riserva Poggio Vento 2004, “Beleive me.” Then with the wonderful fruit, the grapes had to crushed and fermented to, “if not perfection, then darn close to it.” The, near perfect aging in various oak barrels, and then the selection of which of the many barrels in the Col D’Orcia Cellars would be used to make this, The Count Cinzano’s “Premier Wine”               Brunello Poggio al Vento Riserva. The wine, the Poggio al Vento Brunello Riserva 2004 turned out, “I’ll say it, perfectly.” I just can’t think how a Brunello could taste better or more wonderful, and I thank The Count for tasting me on it personally. That’s quite an Honor my friends, and one I never take lightly whether I’m tasting with the Count Cinzano, Marchese Piero Antinori, Vittorio Fiore or anyone. If they make wine, and great wine, to me, they are almost God-Like. Don’t get me wrong, this is just a metaphor. Let me put it this way. A few years back, when I was The Wine Director of the at the time very hot Bar Stuzzichini, the Marchese Ferdinando Frescobaldi was in town and came to pay me a visit and taste me on his latest vintages of his Frescbaldi Nippozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva, his “Montesodi” Chianti Rufina Riserva and few other wines. I love the Marchese Ferdinando. He’s a really wonderful person, quite affable, down to earth (though he is of Great Florentine Nobility), an all around great guy. So the Marchese was pouring us his wine, he spotted the bartender and asked him if he wanted to taste some wine. The young bartender did. We had a great visit and Ferdinando Frescobaldi left us, off to see some friends. After he left, I tried to explain and put into perspective to the young bartender, exactly who had just poured him the wine. I told him, “that’s Mickey Mantle.” What? Well, I never heard anyone make the analogy or statement as I did that day. For me it was natural and sincere and it just came out of me. For that’s sort of what The Marchese Ferdindando Frescobaldi and a few others is like to me. Most Americans over 40 will know who Mickey Mantle was, and they would have loved him and held him in high regard as one of the Greatest to Ever Play The Game of Baseball, a thing very important and dear to Americans. Much more so than wine is to Italian, believe it or not. Growing up, I loved Mickey Mantle, held him in the highest regard and still do. I was fortunate enough to meet and chat with Mickey a few times and have a couple autographed baseballs from Mickey to prove it. So i told the kid, that man is to Italian Wine what Mickey Mantle is to baseball; a legend, The Greatest of The Great, loved and held in high regard by many, and one of the most important and influential men in his field. Well I didn’t say all that to the kid, I just said he was “The Mickey Mantle of Italian Wine.” Well I don’t think the kid got my point or really cared, but by saying this, anyone who knows a bit about wine will know what I’m talking about and how I feel about some of the Great Men of Italian Wine (Women too).

Daniel Bellino-Zwicke

“Game 2 of My Brunello Triple-Header”

KEVIN ZRALY TALKS BRUNELLO    “Brunello Seminar-Tasting Gotham Hall”

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The affable Kevin Zraly held a Brunello Seminar at The New York Brunello Tasting 2013 …And for the few lucky enough to attend, it was quite a great event. Great, yes great, and Mr. Keven Zraly in my book is quite great when it comes to knowledge of wine, his Love and approach to it, drinking, tasting for his own pleasure and knowledge as well as the Drinking, Tasting, and Education Kevin imparts on those in his classes, readers and owners of his famed Windows On The World Wine Course (Book), and anyone as I’ve Just said “Lucky Enough to Attend One of Mr. Zraly’s Wine Seminars,” in this case for one of Italy’s and The World’s most esteemed wines and one of Kevin’s 3 Favorite Wines (Kevin’s words) Brunello di Montalcino.


 “Don’t Touch It! Don’t touch it !!!” shouts Kevin Zraly, near the beginning of his seminar. He know there are always people on every level of experience at any one of the many wine seminars he has conducted over the years, including the most experienced and at least one or maybe several people who have never ever been to a Seminar Wine Tasting like this in their lives. This maybe their first one, “Don’t Touch Don’t touch!!!” It’s quite funny and a bit shocking the way Kevin does these as he sets the tone for his style of wine seminar, which is “No Muss No Fuss No BS,” and as Mr. Zraly says no English Poetry, in an effort to say there will be none of that overdone pontification, just straight normal talk, and talk even a beginner could grasp about wine, and with Kevin his approach will make you love the object and the subject of “Wine” even more. That’s what a great wine educator does. There are not many better than Kevin Zraly, “if any?”

   Yes, the seminar was quite wonderful. If being at the most important Brunello Tasting of the year wasn’t enough, and being the first in the World to taste the 2008 Vintage and 07 Riservas, in a beautiful setting like Gotham Hall, in The Greatest City in The World, and as the Head of The Brunello Consorzio stated this glorious day, “New York Is The Greatest and Most Important Market in The World For The Producers of Brunello di Montalcino.” Yes Sir “It Is.” Yes those at The New York Brunello Tasting were among-st the first in the World to taste these fine wines, and Mr.s Zraly made that point, as well as stating how wonderful the Wines were, that we were very fortunate to be drinking them, and that Brunello was along with Bordeaux, one of his 3 Favorite wines in the World to drink. Myself and Michael Colameco (Who is The fine host of “Real Food” one of TV’s Best Cooking Shows on PBS) sitting next to me at the seminar, we both surmised the third  of Kevin’s 3 Favorite Wines of The World had to be Burgundy. This we need to find out.

    “Smell it 3 times. Cover the glass with your hand. Sniff! Toast the person sitting next to you and drink. Think about it for 1 minute at 15 second intervals. Do you still taste it? What do you taste?” Well, we tasted 8 very fine offerings of this fabulous wine, Brunello di Montalcino. The wines were all wonderful, and being at Benvenuto Brunello in such a gorgeous setting as Gotham Hall and being led in a Tasting of Great Brunello by one of the World’s Greatest Authorities on Wine, this was a combination that was unbeatable. Being in the Italian Wine and Restaurant Business for more than 25 and writing for another 8, I can tell your that I’ve been to many a incredible wine event, like: a Vertical Wine tasting and Luncheon with the Marchese Piero Antinori, Dinner at Spark’s Steak-House with Jacopo Biondi Santi and his wines, as well as lunches and dinners on many great wine estates in Italy. The kind of events people would kill to be able to attend, I’ve been to many, and this Brunello Seminar tasting with kevin Zraly shall be filed in my head with some of those other great wine moments. It was most enjoyable, and I’m so glad I made it (almost din’t go).

   So Bravo Brunello! And Bravo Kevin for your passion, love of the wine, and the way you lead others, in your very Zraly Direction.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

BRUNELLO SEMINAR with KEVEN ZRALY .. January 31, 2013 …. Afternoon Seminar


1.   Palazzo – 2008

2.   Fanti -2008

3.   Tenute Sivio Nardi – 2008

4.   Donatella Cinelli Colombini – 2008

5.   Uccelliera – 2008

6.   Palazzo – Riserva 2004

7.   Col D’Orcia 2001

8.   IL Poggione Riserva 1999

An overall assessment and thoughts on the 8 Brunello’s we tasted. First off, they were all very good to wonderful to remarkable. A great line-up including some excellent producers and very fine vintages of recent years. It seemed an overall consensus that pretty much everyone (Writers, Restaurant People, Wine Professionals,and Hobbyists) in the room liked each and every wine we drank, all wonderful wines, and with Kevin “Cheer-Leading” us with his love of wine and Brunello, I believe everyone enjoyed these wines even more than if they had tasted all 8 in another manner than this great tasting-seminar.

   As all wines were wonderful, I must admit that there were 3 wines that we all got a bit more excited and super-charged over. These wines were; the Brunello Uccelliera 2008, the Brunello Col D’Orcia 2001, and the Brunello IL Poggione 1999 … Without going into any, as Kevin Zraly would say “English Poetry” these 3 wines were just wonderful. The kind of wines you light up over and just saying “Wow,” is enough to say that they had everything you want in a great Brunello or any great wine, great aroma, Wonderful Taste combined with “Perfect Balance,” and simply greatness.

   Again, a great tasting, overall Benvenuto Brunello, lots of great wines, wonderful people, and a fine Seminar-Tasting of Brunello conducted by Mr. Kevin Zraly. Again, Bravo!

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

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Daniel Bellino-Zwicke Tastes The Great Wines of Col D’Orcia, multi vintages of Col D’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino with the Estates Esteemed proprietor, The Count Franceso Muroni Cinzano at a Private Luncheon in New York ….

The Beautiful Abbey of SANT ANTIMO, Montalcino with Brunello Vines in foreground …

Brunello Col D’OrciaRiserva “Pogio Al Vento” 2004


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RONZONI And Italian American New York Memories


“Ronzoni Sono Buoni,” if you are Italian and grew up in the New York area in the great decades of the 1960’s and or 70s you know the slogan. We Italians do love our past, we’re weened on it, it’s the main staple of our diet. Many are fanatical about and love it so, the must have it several times a week. I’m one. Pasta, covered in a wide variety of sauces and part of some soups, Pasta Fagole (Pasta Fazool), in some Minestrone’s, Pasta & Peas, and Pasta con Ceci. Yes, we are weened on it. Mommy gave me, my bothers and sister Pastina coated in a bit of butter and Parmigiano when we were just toddlers and every so often I have to pick up a box of Ronzoni Pastina, as I love and crave it still, and of late as with many my age, you start crazy things you loved as a child, thus my stints with Pastina. “Ronzoni Sono Buoni,” it means, Ronzoni is So Good, and that it is. This brand of Pasta, born in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century has been a mainstay of not only Italian-Americans of the East Coast but, for all. For years before the surge of many a imported pasta product in the U.S. Ronzoni, was not the only game in town for Macaroni, there was the Prince and Creamette, as well, but ronzoni dominated the market and though I don’t have stats, I would wage to say that 85 to 90 % of all commercial pasta sold in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas was Ronzoni, the pasta in the bright blue boxes, Ronzoni Sono Buoni. God I wonder how many plates and bowls of Spaghetti, Ziti and other Ronzoni pastas I ate over the years, starting with Pastina as a toddler and moving to Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce or Meatballs, Baked Ziti, Stuffed Shells and more. Oh stuffed shells, they bring back memories of my mother who loved them. We had them often, along with Lasagna made with Ronzoni Lasagana. You don’t see Stuffed Shells around that much any more, they used to be on many a restaurant and even more home menus. There popularity has waned, but every once and a while I’ll pick up a box of Ronzoni large shells, just for the purpose of bringing back those memories of mom making them and me loving them as a child. I’ll make a batch of tomato sauce, cook the Ronzoni Shells, and stuffe them with ricotta and Parmigiano, bake them in tomato sauce, and “Voila” Stuffed Shells of days gone by. I do the same with a Pastina as I still love the dish so, dressed with butter and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Yum, delicious little pleasure you can whip up in minutes and bring back versions of your youth. All with some butter, Parmigiano and a box of ronzoni Pastia. That’s Ronzoni, every bit a part of my life and youth as a Slinky, Etch-A-Sketch, The Three Stooges, Saturday Morning Cartoons, and all the favorites of my youth, “Ronzon Sono Buoni” it’s so good.


Article: Daniel Bellino Zwicke