When you meet Roberto (“Robbie”) Vigilucci, his warm hearted passion radiates an old-world charm Italians call “e’voglio bene” ( my great desire.) His Italian style restaurants and wine selections have leaped ahead of the pack and now total 8, plus a catering business. His one-of-kind locations, first in Encinitas in 1994, to his latest handsome dining room in Coronado next to the Del Coronado Resort Hotel, reflects the Vigilucci personal touch of home style ingredients, extensive Italian favored wine list and a happy “good-times” atmosphere.
The wines offered are in such quantity that a 16 page booklet is offered, complete with a table of contents. The manager at the Coronado location, Daniel Brenner, urged us to try his most exciting Italian value wine, a creation from the Puglia region of Italy that was made from the Primitivo grape.
If that varietal is new to you, think Zinfandel. Primitivo grapes were brought to California early in its development as a wine country, and became Zinfandel. But DNA tests pointed to Italy and Croatia as the birthplace for this popular varietal. Vigilucci offers a bottle of Ognisole 2006 Primitivo for just $33. Like most Italian wines, this one is brimming with a mineral statement of the earth, with enough acidity to wrap around cheeses, breads, pastas and other rustic Italian red-sauced based meals. The wine made them taste that much better.
A wonderful Italian-style starter plate for two is the Antipasto della Casa. In it are generous portions of Calamari, Caprese, Bruschettas, Prosciutto di Parma, Salame, and several styles of imported cheeses.
Fresh baked Italian bread compliments the flavors. The main entrees are savory steaks, seafood and dinner salads, pastas, raviolis and risottos. “Robbie” believes and lives for the highest quality and he sees to it that locations open every day with that standard. An old Italian saying says that “if you want to serve the best, you put your thumb in the sauce” and taste for yourself before serving.
The next time you dine at one of Vigilucci’s 8 restaurants you can be sure that “Robbie” has been there to make sure it is the best. For a Vigilucci’s location near you, access www.vigiluccis.com.
Wine Sommeliers – Are They Still Needed?
In the years before wine education and tasting became the vogue, a wine dinner at a nicer restaurant became an intimidating adventure and diners relied on the guidance ( mostly dictates ) of the wine sommelier or director who opened a wine list of strange names from far-away places.
Where did this ritual come from in the wine world? Back in the French Renaissance, individuals bought the title and became personal assistants to noblemen in the royal court. They stocked food and wine for journeys and kept the supplies in a carriage or “somme.” However the most important job was to taste the wine and cuisine before it was presented to the nobleman and his guests, to ensure that no poisons were in the ingredients.
Today’s fine restaurant sommeliers choose the wines, stock the cellar and work the dining room recommending wines. A master sommelier designation is very difficult to attain and it’s only been since 1987 that any American was so designated. Eddie Osterland of La Jolla was the first. He was French trained at the University of Bordeaux, France.
The instruments of a traditional sommelier are quirky little gadgets like a tastevin, a little brass basket for tasting that hung around his neck, thermometer for precise temperature measurement, sparkling wine pliers, and the list goes on.
Next time you go to one of these fine restaurants, bring some knowledge with you. Know these simple tips: the sommelier, or wine director should be at your service to give you a pleasant wine experience. Know that the temperature of a wine does matter. If it’s a white, make sure it is chilled and stays chilled with a bucket and ice. If it’s a red, a slight chill to less than room temperature will bring out the maximum flavor. You don’t have to finish the bottle. Ask for a re-seal and bring it home with you. Get the best wine glass possible and don’t allow the wine poured from the bottle to be more than 1/3 of the way up, so you can swirl it, aerating for best flavor. If it’s an older vintage, ask to have it decanted to increase the flavor. And finally, consider bringing your own favorite ”special occasion” bottle in to the restaurant, to be assured you will be drinking something you prefer. For a slight “corkage” fee, you will have gained control of your personal wine experience.
Falkner Winery in Temecula is hosting a New Release Wine Dinner, Sat. Aug. 29 at 6pm. It will be a full course gourmet meal with several tastings including the newest Super Tuscan Amante. Cost is $99. ea. RSVP at 951-676-8231 x109.
The Art of Food & Wine at the Grand Del Mar Resort’s Addison is an exquisite 3 day art fair Wed. Sept. 2 to Fri. Sept. 4 with world class artists, food and wine events. This is investment grade art. Four chefs will unveil their creations in a five course meal for $200. pp. For RSVP information, access www.beyontheborder-art.com or e mail email@example.com.
The Westgate Hotel downtown San Diego First Friday of the Month Wine Journey event is Fri. Sept. 4. You will enjoy a 3 course dinner with wine pairing for $49. ea. Contact number is 800-522-1564.
Firefly Grill & Wine Bar in Encinitas is planning to be part of the huge San Diego Restaurant Week promotion from Sun. Sept. 13 to Sun. Sept. 20. Expect that delicious everyday dinner experience at Firefly at unexpected low pricing. Firefly will also host a Silverado Vineyards wine dinner on Wed. Sept. 23. Learn more at www.fireflygrillandwinebar.com.
Over 30 years of communication skills, including broadcast, copy, press relations & strategic marketing support in retail, financial and civic. Owner of Taste Of Wine, a multi-media information and commentary column and internet platform, since 2005. “I count goal-setting, problem-solving and an understanding of the wine communication universe as my strongest professional assets.”