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Great wine takes center stage in restaurants. The best wine lists in the world for “Wine Spectator”

Pinchiorri, Rome Cavalieri’s La Pergola, Cracco, Ciau del Tornavento, Bottega del Vino and Poeta Contadino: six “Grand Awards” in Italy confirmed
The world’s best “wine lists” for “Wine Spectator” (ph: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels)

Fine dining is a key stage for quality wine, of Italy and the world. And although Italian cuisine (a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Italian wine (which, together with the vine, territories and production methods, is considered national cultural heritage, as enshrined in Article 1 of the Testo Unico del Vino, Law 238 dated 2016) have now conquered every corner of the planet, there are establishments that, more than others, stand out for their ability to enhance precisely the wine, with dream “wine lists” for value, depth and variety. As recounted, once again, by the 2023 edition of the “Restaurant Awards” of “Wine Specator”, the highly followed U.S. magazine that, since 1981, has been awarding the best wine lists in the world restaurant industry. And if in this edition there are no “new entries” at the world level for the highest award, namely the “Grand Award”, the good news, for Italy, is the confirmation of all 6 restaurants already on the list. And so, to be reconfirmed at the top are the boundless cellar of the three-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence (awarded by “Wine Spectator” with the highest recognition since 1984), and built over time, with investment and passion, by Giorgio Pinchiorri with the collaboration of Alessandro Tomberli, and that of the three-starred (currently closed for renovation) Heinz Beck’s La Pergola at the Rome Cavalieri, where the direction of the cellar, as well as of the dining room, is taken care of by Marco Reitano (awarded since 2004). Also shining are the wine lists of Milan’s Michelin-starred Ristorante Cracco, in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, whose wine selection is curated by sommelier Gianluca Sanso, as well as that of the starred La Ciau del Tornavento in Treviso (on the “Wine Spectator” list since 2013), by chef Maurilio Garola, and whose sommelier today is Filippo Alberto Rodda. Confirmations also for the other two “temples” of Italian wine historically awarded by Wine Spectator, namely the Antica Bottega del Vino in Verona, a cult for wine lovers, thanks to its anthological selection, in terms of depth of vintages and variety of labels, and for years owned by Famiglie Storiche, led “by the innkeeper” Luca Nicolis (and awarded since 2004), and Leonardo Marco’s Il Poeta Contadino in Alberobello, which, in addition to a vast selection of the most important icons of Italian wine, also preserves and offers great verticals of the top names from Bordeaux (and has been awarded since 1997).
But if these are the restaurants and venues on Italian land, there is no shortage of top honors for restaurants with a clear Italian flair, both in cuisine and wine list. Which, according to “Wine Spectator”, are San Francisco’s Acquarello, owned by Giancarlo Paterlini, co-owner with chef Suzette Gresham, and whose wine list is curated by Giancarlo’s son, Gianpaolo; and New York’s Ristorante Ai Fiori, whose wine director is John Canvin (and which is part of the Altamarea group, which runs more than 20 restaurants with a predominantly Italian flair in the U.S., Dubai, Turkey and Saudi Arabia). Still staying in the U.S., worth mentioning are, again in New York, the Sistina restaurant, a stone’s throw from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, of chef, owner and sommelier Giuseppe Bruno, and again the Barolo Grill in Denver, whose owner and wine director is Ryan Fletter, focused, as the name implies, on Piedmontese cuisine and wines, but not only, and the Fiola restaurant in Washington D.C., of chef and entrepreneur Fabio Trabocchi (and whose wine director is Casper Rice). Still, worth mentioning, outside the U.S., is the Alfredo Di Roma Mexico Restaurant in Mexico City, linked to “Il Vero Alfredo”, the restaurant in Rome where historically, chef Alfredo di Lelio invented the very famous “Fettuccine all’Alfredo”, while in Canada, in Etobicoke (Toronto), Ontario, there is the Via Allegro Ristorante, led at the stove by chef Marco Zandona. This, in brief, is the “Italian” top of the more than 3,500 restaurants and eateries honored with different awards (“Award of Excellence”, “Best of Award of Excellence”, and “Grand Award”) by “Wine Spectator”.

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