Nerano, an upscale Italian restaurant owned by the Toscana Restaurant Group in Beverly Hills, hosted their first in a series of monthly wine dinners.
For this inaugural dinner, in their swank BG Lounge, Nerano’s Sommelier Samantha Johnston and Executive Chef Michele Lisi teamed up with Marchesi Antinori Wines ambassador Alessia Botturi to pair their wines with a five-course dinner.
Nerano & The BG Lounge
9960 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
This dinner was what dreams are made of for an Italian food and wine aficionado. Not only does Nerano have a solid reputation in LA as one of the favorite eateries among Hollywood power-players, but Antinori is also a company that can trace their history back to 1385, making them one of the oldest Italian wine producers. This Italian wine powerhouse is 26 generations owned and popularized in the US in the “Super Tuscan” boom of the 1970’s.
The first course began with a Stuzzichini, crostini topped with Apulian Burrata & Green Tomato Marmellata and Bruschetta with Grilled Rustic Crostino, Diced Campari Tomato, Arugula & Parmigiano Reggiano paired with Col de Salici Rosé Brut NV. These lighter crostinis were perfect little bites to start us off. I believe dinner should always begin with bubbles, so this blush with fruity notes of berries, was a delight.
The second course, antipasti, was the Crudo Di Ricciola with Pacific Yellowtail, Crispy Capers, Fresno Chili Peppers, Rainbow Micro Greens & Citronette paired with Tenuta Guado Al Tasso, Vermentino 2015. I used to work at an Italian restaurant, and the Vermentino, a lighter bodied, Sardinian white was always my favorite wine. I was a little bit tickled when Alessia announced it would be a pairing. If you love Sauvignon Blanc, you’d love Vermentino, and it pairs very well with the Pacific yellowtail and the spices from the pepper.
The third course was the Burrata Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes, Apulian Burrata, Tomato & Arugula paired with Castello Della Sala, ‘Cervaro,’ Chardonnay 2014. This is such a classic dish that never goes out of style. But what surprised me the most about this was the wine selection.
I had a big Chardonnay obsession in 2007, specifically any bottle from Alexander Valley. They used to be so buttery, lightly oaky and very easy to drink. I don’t know what’s going on in the wine world, or perhaps my palette changed over time, but I just haven’t been into chardonnay anymore.
Alessi’s selection, the ’14 Castello Della Sala, ‘Cervaro,’ had restored my faith in Chardonnay! It’s lightly acidic, refreshing but still rich, savory and there’s just a hint of oakiness. The oakiness is not over powering like many of the other’s I’ve sipped on as of late. This was my favorite wine selection of the night, cause I love to be surprised!
Next up was the Pasta course, house-made Orecchiette with Colorado Lamb Ragú, English Peas, Tuscan Mint & Fiocchi di Burrata paired with Guado al Tasso, ‘Il Bruciato’ 2015. This was my favorite food course. The orecchiette was chewy and al dente, the lamb ragú was savory and earthy.
For Secondi, the main course, we were served Tagliata di Manzo, a USDA Prime New York Steak with Yukon Gold Potato Focaccia & Sautéed Spinach paired with Antinori ‘Tignanello’ 2014. As you can see from the image above, this was one juicy cut of steak! The focaccia potatoes are very similar to scalloped potatoes, but the cheese is a bit more caramelized, which I loved.
The courses complete with a Dolci of Panna Cotta e Frutti di Bosco, a Tahitian Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Wild Berries, Orange Zest & Vincotto paired with Fattoria Aldobrandesca, ‘Aleatico’ 2011. The vincotto is a fig balsamic vinegar but don’t let that scare you off! Once the panna cotta is mixed up with the vincotto, it becomes lightly tart but still soft and creamy.
The wine pairings selected for the 14 guests, chosen by Alessia personally, validated Antinori’s staying power. Through this dinner, Alessia proved that Antinori wines truly offer something for everyone and for every occasion.
According to Samantha, there will be one more dinner next month, with a guest wine maker. After that one in August, they won’t do another wine dinner until October or November due to harvest. But they will come back and Samantha hints there may be a spirits pairing on the way as well.
Pricing for Nerano’s Antinori Wine Dinner was $140 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. There were limited availability and reservations were required.
For information on the next dinner, please follow posts on the Nerano Facebook page for announcements.
- Thanks to Nerano for their generous hospitality. Although my meal was provided by Nerano, all opinions are my own.