Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Voce Columbus-Mecca of Italian Wine and Fine Dining

 Evening views of Columbus Circle from A Voce's main dining room

 The imaginative modern Italian cuisine of A Voce

Diners enjoy wine and food pairings at A Voce

A Voce Columbus Sommelier Marco Fusato with a Melchior of Planeta wine from Sicilly

A Voce wine and food pairings highlight imaginative Italian cuisine with hard-to-obtain wines from their cellars

Story and photo gallery by Dwight Casimere
A Voce Columbus
10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019

 the view is unexcelled, the cuisine and the wine list, with its concentration on remarkable Italian vintages, many of them unavailable elsewhere, makes it a dining mecca for the pairing of wine and food. With the guidance of Sommelier Marco Fusato, I was taken on a journey through the major wine producing regions of Italy, with imaginative dishes that are inspired by regional Italian cuisine and indigenous ingredients, with a decidedly modern twist.  
NEW YORK--A Voce Columbus, on the Third Floor of the Time Warner Center overlooking New York's sleek Columbus Circle and the southern portals of Central Park, has one of the most dramatic cityscape views imaginable. Particularly at sunset, when the burnished amber glow of the setting sun, creates a visual hush over Central Park. Fading sunlight glints off the statue of Christopher Columbus, which rises majestically before the backdrop of skyscrapers and the reflective glow of dusk.

The view is unexcelled. The cuisine and the wine list, with its concentration on remarkable Italian vintages, many of them unavailable elsewhere, make it a dining mecca for the pairing of Italian wine and food. With Sommelier Marco Fusato as my guide, I was taken on a journey through the major wine producing regions of Italy, with imaginative dishes inspired by regional Italian cuisine.  
Combining both indigenous Italian ingredients with locally sourced produce, seafood and meats from local purveyors, the restaurant takes its inspiration from traditional regional Italian cuisine and executes it with a decidedly modern twist. 

The tasting excursion began with a glass of Prosecco Pasqua from the Veneto region of Northern Italy along with a starter of  Stracciatella, a creamy, delectably nutty Mozzarella appetizer from Puglia in southern Italy, combined with cherry tomatoes, zucchini blossoms and a house specialty, fettunta, which is housemade Italian bread, lightly rubbed with garlic and olive oil, then grilled. The creaminess of the mozzarella and the nutty flavor of the grilled bread made for a unique Umami sensation in the mouth when acccompanied by a sip of the Prosecco. The light toast and crisp citrus notes of the Prosecco cut through the creamy garlic flavors of the Stracciatella. I had opportunities this past year to taste this particular Prosecco while at Vinitaly in Verona and to sample the melt-in-your mouth soft white cheeses of the Puglia region while visiting a wine and food festival in the city of Bari, and can attest to the fact that there is nothing quite like their mouthwatering characteristics that can be enhanced to the hilt by a good, clean dry sparkling Italian wine.  The Insalata bianca composed of Endive, fennel, Meyer lemon, bottarga(Sicilian-styled caviar made with cured bluefin tuna roe)  and almonds, similarly expressed the nutty undertones of the Processo. 

Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Classico Sartarelli 2011 from the Marche region (just to the east of Tuscany) provided a light, crisp lemon and lime foil to the magnificent Animelle, a dish composed of Pan roasted Veal Sweetbreads, with a puree of English peas, capers, cipollini onions and bacon. This was one of the standout dishes of the evening, with the mouth-watering, creamy texture of the sweetbreads contrasting with the tart acidity of the Verdicchio. The bright flavor of the wine contrasted with the slightly "sweet/sour " flavor of the sweetbread dish, enhanced by the opposite flavors of the onions and the capers. This  made for a Yin and Yang tasting experience.The sensational combination should have me running back to A Voce time and time again!

The main course, Luccio con asparagi; Seared Long Island Pike, with white asparagus brodo, and luxurious lobster vinaigrette was a signature dish that proved why A Voce is head and shoulders above similarly positioned contemporary Italian restaurants. The flavors of the food were outstanding and the presentation was without peer. It was paired with contrasting vintages in the wine spectrum, a dry Sauvignon Blanc Meroi 2011 from the Friuli region of Italy to the North and a special treat, a superlative red blend of Caberrnet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc Burdese 2008 from the world-famous Planeta estate of Sicily to the South. the latter was spectacularly served in a large-format bottle, a Melchior, which is the equivalent to 24 standard bottles of wine,  one of the largest wine bottles available in production,  which nearly dwarfed Sommelier Marco Fusato.

That was only a prelude to the evening's crescendo, Bomboloni alla Toscana (Italian-styled round doughnuts, similar in shape to our doughnut holes, only larger, filled with warm, melted dark chocolate sauce. Heavenly!) paired with Alexander Prosecco Grappa from Veneto, which was also served in a large format, decorative bottle. Abbondanza! Bravissimo! Bella Cucina, A Voce! (Can you tell, I've been studying Italian this summer?).

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