Vickers Restaurant - InteriorOn Sunday, April 21, 2019, Vickers Restaurant & Bar in Exton, Pennsylvania, will be serving a special Easter menu from 1:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Appetizers Selections – Lobster Crisp: Tempura Battered Sweet Lobster, Horseradish, Apricot… Escargots de Bourgogne: Garlic, Champagne, Herbes de Provence… Mille Feuille: Puff Pastry, Fricassee of Mushrooms, Asparagus Parmesan Cream… Shrimp Cocktail: Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce… Spring Asparagus Soup: Young Leeks, Fresh Cream… Lobster Bisque: Touch of Champagne… Farmhouse Salad: Blue Cheese, Roasted Beets, Candied Walnuts… Caesar Salad: Vickers Homemade Dressing

Entrée Selections – Seared Salmon: Wilted Greens, Pernod Butter… Vickers Crab Cakes: Jumbo Lump Crab, Whole Grain Mustard Sauce… Champagne Poached Lobster Tail: Lobster Ravioli Petit Lobster Tail Garnish, Sauce Aurora… Pan Seared Duck Breast: Brandied Cherries, Seasonal Vegetables… Roasted Rack of Lamb: Rosemary, Thyme, Mustard, Port Wine Reduction… Filet Mignon Béarnaise: Truffled Pommes Purée… Beef Wellington: Puff Pastry, Truffle Pâté… Sauce Chasseur… Mushroom & Spinach Strudel: Leeks, Feta Cheese, Smoked Pepper Romesco Sauce

Desserts – Artisanal Ice Cream: Espresso Bean, Sweet Cherry Vanilla, Maple Walnut, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate… Classic Carrot Cake: Cream Cheese Frosting Tangerine Gelée… Coconut Crème Caramel: Tropical Fruit Coulis…Cinnamon Apple Strudel: Maple Walnut Ice Cream… Crème Brûlée: Singed Sugar Crust… New York Style Cheesecake: Winter Fruit Compote… Chocolate Trio: Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Almond Joy Macaroon

For more information, or to make reservations, please call Vickers Restaurant at (610) 363-7998.

Bon Appétit!



St. Patrick's Day 1Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by serving a special menu from Friday, March 15 – Sunday, March 17, and serving up special music by Jersey’s own Hoi Polloi on St. Patrick’s Night.

St. Patrick’s Menu…

From the Bar – Pub Can Guinness StoutMcSweeny: Teeling Irish Whiskey, King’s Ginger, Maple, Meyer Lemon… Irish Coffee: Jameson, Brown Sugar, Mint Kissed Whipped Cream

Irish Soda Bread Basket

 First Course – Colcannon Soup: Potato, Cabbage, Bacon, Green Onion, Broth… Green Watercress Salad: Cashel Blue Cheese, Bacon, Radish, Garlic Crouton, Buttermilk Dressing… Bangers ‘N’ Mash: House Sausage, Whipped Potato, Guinness Braised Onion, Pickled Mustard Seed

Main Course – Corned Beef & Cabbage: Ale-Mustard, Braised Green Cabbage, Baby Potato, Carrot… Braised Lamb Shank: Pearl Barley, Green Brussel, Baby Onion, Neeps… Fish ‘N’ Chips: Ale-Battered Cod, Malt Vinegar, Green Cabbage Slaw, Cottage Fries

Dessert – Green Trifle: Mint Custard, Jameson Soaked Sponge Cake, Bailey’s Whipped Cream, Lucky Charms, Sprinkles, Shamrock Cookie

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!



SJ Hot Chefs - Spring Restaurant WeekFrom Sunday, March 24 – Friday, March 29, 2019, South Jersey Hot Chefs will be hosting their annual Spring Restaurant Week.

Participating restaurants will be offering four course dinners priced at $35.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity).

For a list of participating restaurants and/or to make reservations online, please click here.

Bon Appétit!



Vickers - ExteriorEach Friday in Lent, from March 8th – April 19th, Vickers Restaurant & Bar, 192 East Welsh Pool Road, Exton, Pennsylvania, will be offering a special three-course seafood prix-fixe menu.

Appetizer Selections (Choice of) – Field Greens Salad… Lobster Bisque… Soup du Jour… Shrimp Cocktail ($5.00 supplement)

Entrée Selections (Choice of) – Seared Salmon: Braised Farro, Roasted Asparagus, Pernod Butter… Shrimp and Scallop Vol au Vent: Local Mushrooms, Golden Puff Pastry, Tarragon Cream Sauce… Penne Affumicato: Smoked Scottish Salmon, Asparagus, Tomato Concassè, Parmesan Cream Sauce… Dover Sole: A Vickers classic since 1972; filleted tableside $15.00 supplement)

Dessert Selections – New York-Style Cheesecake… Chocolate Decadence Cake

The price of the special seafood menu is $40.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call Vickers at (610) 363-7998.

Bon Appétit!



Pino, Chef AnthonyOn Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 7:00 p.m., Chef Anthony Pino of the acclaimed Anthony David’s and Bin 14 will prepare an incredible five-course dinner at the legendary James Beard House, 167 West 12th Street, New York City. Wine pairings from the exceptional Les Cretes wines of Aostsa Valley in northwest Italy will be presented by Bin 14’s Wine Director, Joel Liscio.

Hors d’Oeuvres: Petite Crab Cakes, Lemon Caper Aioli… Squash Burrata Toast, Fig Honey, Toasted Hazelnuts… House-Pulled Mozzarella, Black Truffles… Taleggio Arancini, Salsa Verde… Kumamoto Oysters, Foie Gras Bites; Wine Pairing: Contadi Castaldi Brut Franciacorta

Appetizer: Rib Eye Beef Tartare, Capers, Pecorino, Crostini; Wine Pairing: Les Cretes Fumin 2016

First Course: Baby Romaine, White Anchovies, Hand-Torn Crouton, Parmesan, Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette; Wine Pairing: Les Cretes Petite Arvine Vigna Devin Ros 2016

Second Course: Lobster Gnocchi, Chanterelles, Toasted Corn, Thyme; Wine Pairing: Les Cretes Chardonnay Cuvée Bois 2015

Entrée: Pan Roasted Duck Breast, Wilted Greens, Creamy Polenta, Barolo Cherries; Wine Pairing: Les Cretes Syrah Coteau La Tour 2016

Dessert: Espresso Semifreddo, Almond Biscotti

The cost of the Chef Anthony Pino dinner is $180.00 per person, all-inclusive; $140.00 for members. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (212) 627-2308.

Bon Appétit!



The Wines of Vietti

by artfuldiner on March 1, 2019

in Breaking News, Opinion

Vietti WineryLocated in the Langhe Valley of the Piedmont region of Italy, Vietti Winery has been growing grapes and/or producing wine for nearly two hundred years. Founded as a family farm, it produced a number of various crops, including grapes. However, in 1919 patriarch Mario Vietti made the first Vietti wines and transformed the estate into a pure vineyard and winery.

The current Vietti estate owes a great deal of its success to the efforts of Luciana Vietti Currado and her winemaker husband, Alfredo Currado. Beginning in 1952, Alfredo continued to produce high quality wines from their own vineyards as well as from purchased grapes. During his tenure, the Vietti Winery grew to be one of the top-level producers in Piedmont and was one of the first wineries to export its products to markets in the United States.

Alfredo was one of the first to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards. This was a radical concept at the time. Today, however, virtually every vintner making Barolo and Barbaresco wines offers “single Vineyard” or “cru-designated” wines. He is also called the “Father of Arneis” as, in 1967, he invested a great deal of time to rediscover and understand this nearly-lost varietal. Today, Arneis is the most famous white wine from the Roero area of Italy.

Vietti Winery - Luca & Elena CurradoLuciana and Alfredo’s son, Luca, is now the winemaker; and Luca’s wife, Elena, is in charge of the winery’s PR work (pictured). After stints with California’s Simi Winery, Opus One and Long Vineyards and then with Bordeaux’s Mouton-Rothschild, Luca returned to Piedmont to oversee the 1992 harvest, which turned out to be one of the rainiest on record. Despite the bad weather, however, Luca produced an exceptional vintage.

His wines continue to be some of the cleanest and terroir-driven in Piedmont, possessing a rare subtlety and elegance; yet, at the same time, distinguished by a traditional undertone and personal style. His wines are rich due to low grape yields rather than heavy extraction in the winery. And he utilizes traditional large oak casks for aging rather than new French oak barrels.

“A winemaker is like a tailor,” Mr. Currado explains. “You have a vineyard, which is like a person, and you have to fit the winemaking to the vineyard. You have to do the best possible for the vineyard. It is a little like Burgundy. You have micro-realities in Piedmont. Each vineyard is special and the wine should reflect that.” Mr. Currado’s current portfolio consists of 9 different types of wine spread along 17 different offerings.

Fortunately, Vietti’s custom-tailored wines do not result in huge prices. While the extraordinary Barolos and Barbarescos are on the expensive side, the three wines I recently sampled are quite reasonably priced and readily available through Pennsylvania State Stores.

2017 Vietti Roero Arneis, $19.99: Roero Arneis is the white wine that Alfredo Currado almost single handedly rescued from oblivion in 1967. This 100-percent Arneis wine is produced from 25-year-old vines with the grapes fermented in stainless steel tanks. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate bestowed 91+ points, noting: “… The 2017 Roero Arneis is one of the most successful interpretations of this white wine on the market today.” Indeed, this is a well-balanced, elegant wine with excellent complexity and a lingering finish. A great wine to accompany fish dishes or simply prepared veal, pork, chicken.

Vietti Winery - Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne 20162016 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne, $17.99: Produced from 100-percent Barbera grapes that are blended from three vineyards, the 2016 offers up aromas of ripe cherries and hints of vanilla. On the palate, the wine is dry and medium-bodied with hints of oak and black fruit. Possessing both a pleasing complexity and refreshing acidity, it goes down as smooth as silk, which makes it the perfect companion for a variety of foods. Very, very nice… at a great price point. Highly recommended.

2015 Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo Langhe, $24.99:  The 2015 Perbacco was produced from 100% Nebbiolo parcels all planted in the Barolo region from vines averaging 35-years-of-age. Alcoholic fermentation lasted between three and four weeks with a total ageing of two years. Blending of the parcels took place in steel tanks prior to bottling. This wine offers up flavors of generous fruit and spice with notable intensity for a medium-bodied vintage. At the moment, this wine strikes one as strong and powerful; a few years of ageing gracefully in the cellar, however, and it will become infinitely more approachable, elegant and complex.

As wine writer Antonio Galloni noted in his Vinous Media: “I can’t think of too many estates in Piedmont that have raised the bar higher than Vietti has over the last decade or so. Virtually every wine that emerges from these cellars is outstanding, and many are profound… an unprecedented level of consistency and quality across their entire range.”

*Note: In July 2016, Vietti Winery was purchased by the Krause family of Iowa. Enologist Luca Currado, the current manager of the estate, will remain as CEO, overseeing winemaking. Two great families are coming together,” Currado told the Wine Spectator in an interview following the sale. “It will allow us to take a big step up in quality and it’s a guarantee for the future.” We shall see.




Alba - Interior 2On Sunday, March 10, 2019, 5:00 p.m., Restaurant Alba in Malvern, Pennsylvania, will celebrate their 14th anniversary with a special six-course dinner featuring an Old World Piedmontese menu paired with exciting regional wines.

First Antipasti Course: Bagna Cauda Creamy Anchovy and Garlic Sauce with Cauliflower & Winter Squash… Vitello Tonnato Roasted and Chilled Veal with Classic Tuna Sauce… Tartar Albanese Beef Tartare in the style of Alba with Truffle Sauce; Wine Pairing: Arneis, Malvira, “Trinita,” Roero, 2016

Second Antipasti Course: Lumache Braised Snails with Mushrooms and Polenta… Sformato Cabbage Flan with Fondue (in the style of Northern Piemonte); Wine Pairing: Gavi di Gavi, Broglia, “La Meirana,” 2017

Third Course – Primi: Pasta Tajarin: Brodo and Vegetables from the Bollito Misto with Parmigiano Reggiano; Wine Pairing: Barber d’Asti, Bruno Rocca, 2016

Fourth Course – Secondi: Bollito Misto: Classic dish of Poached and Braised Meats with Traditional Accompaniments… Veal Breast, Beef Short Rib, Capon, Cotechino Sausage, Potatoes & Carrots… Salsa Verde, Salsa Rossa, Mostarda di Cremona; Wine Pairing: Barbaresco, Cocito, “Baluchin” Riserva, Nieve, 2009

Fifth Course – Formaggi: La Tur Cow, Sheep & Goats’ Milk… Castelmagno Cows’ Milk… Testun al Barolo Sheep & Goat’s Milk; Wine Pairing: Barolo, E. Pira-Chiara Boschis “Via Nuova,” 2013

Sixth Course – Dolce: Hazelnut Cake, Soft Cream; Wine Pairing: Moscato d’Asti, Braida, 2017

The price of the six-course 14th anniversary menu is $175.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call Restaurant Alba at (610) 644-4009.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - ExteriorOn Tuesday, March 5, 2019, 7:00 p.m., Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a special dinner in homage to one of Nicholas’ favorite food meccas, New Orleans.

Amuse: Oyster Rockefeller

First Course: Fried Alligator Fritter, Cajun Aioli

Second Course: Crawfish Etouffee, served over “Dirty Rice”

Third Course: Classic Shrimp Po Boy

Fourth Course: Beignets, Rook “New Orleans Blend” Coffee Ice Cream

The price of the special New Orleans “Fat Tuesday” dinner is $85.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Grapevine Cuisine

84 West Lancaster Avenue

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

(610) 269-1304

Tucked away behind Rita’s Italian Ice at the corner of West Lancaster and Viaduct Avenues, Grapevine Cuisine isn’t all that easy to find – but it is most assuredly worth the effort.

Grapevine Cuisine - InteriorOwned by Dimitrios Papaioannou, and lovingly presided over by members of his family, this charming BYOB eatery is about as authentic as it gets. The traditional Greek meals are made from scratch, the portions are generous to a fault and the prices, given the overall quality of the cuisine, are exceedingly low. Combine this with ultra-personal service and an enchanting Old-World ambiance – the pictures on the website don’t do it proper justice, by the way – and you have a recipe for a homey restaurant that’s rarely found outside of Greece.

Grapevine Cuisine - Veggie SamplerIf you really want to get an idea of what the kitchen can do, the way to start things off is clearly with the incomparable Veggie Sampler (pictured) for two or more. Some of the usual suspects are here – olives, pepperoncini, and stuffed grapes leaves, for example – but the real gems are the not-to-be-missed veggie balls, spanakopita, and an utterly addictive eggplant dip… And those veggie balls, in my opinion, are the star of the show. A mixture of shredded zucchini, spinach and onions, they’re spruced up with a blend of house spices and sided by a special dipping sauce and triangles of pita bread. As an added incentive, those delicious veggie balls may also be reincarnated as a Veggie Burger, companioned by lettuce and tomato on homemade bread.

Other appetizer options include Greek Meatballs made with a combo of house spices and stuffed with feta cheese; Bean Salad, butter beans topped with olive oil, parsley, and chopped onions; and the Unforgettable, sliced baked potatoes topped with butter, three cheeses, and finished in the oven.

Grapevine Cuisine - Greek Salad, LargeOn the other hand, if you have a diminutive appetite, you would do well to consider the fact that all entrées come with either a garden salad or cup of soup of the day. You may also substitute a Greek salad for $1.40 extra or an authentic Greek salad or bowl of soup for an additional $1.80. In case you’re wondering, Greek salad has lettuce; an authentic Greek salad (pictured as an entrée portion) does not. The soup options include a so-so Greek chicken soup and a highly flavorful vegetarian bean soup.

As you move on to the entrées, possibilities abound. There are various renditions of chicken, lamb and pork, as well as several pasta and seafood items, a mixed grille that may be plated for two or four, and a slew of excellent vegetarian dishes.

Grapevine Cuisine - PastitioThe Moussaka, a traditional Greek favorite, incorporates layers of tender eggplant, as well potatoes, crushed tomatoes, ground beef, bechamel sauce and a topping of tomato sauce and grated parmesan. Pastitio (pictured), a variation on the Moussaka theme, hosts many of the same ingredients, but with a pasta foundation. Both are highly recommended… And should you have trouble making up your mind, try the Diplo, the two favorite dishes in one presentation.

Several other eggplant-based arrangements deserve mention. The first is the Papoutsaki, a grilled eggplant that is hollowed out and then stuffed with ground beef & tomato sauce and topped with bechamel & parmesan cheese. But even better, in my opinion, is the Hellenic Eggplant, a tasty vegetarian option, the Greek version of eggplant parmesan. Tender layers of grilled eggplant are slathered with tomato sauce and then crowned with melted feta cheese rather than parmesan.

Grapevine Cuisine - Greek Roast LambThe Greek Roast Lamb, a staple on Mediterranean menus, is excellent here. Strips of boneless leg of lamb are splashed with a natural jus, topped with melted feta, and aided & abetted by a bevy of roasted potatoes. The meat is absolutely fork tender and simple bursting with flavor. If you enjoy lamb, as I do, this is one dish that you will not want to miss.

Desserts, baked up daily by Grapevine’s pastry chef, should not be overlooked.  Possibilities include Rice Pudding made from an old family recipe; Coconut Revani, yellow cake filled and topped with flakes of coconut and syrup; Kourampiedes, Greek cookies covered with powdered sugar; and the Galaktobouriko, filo dough filled with a rich semolina custard.

Grapevine Cuisine - Baklava… But the Baklava should certainly be your first choice. It may not look like much, but the proof of the pudding, as Cervantes so astutely noted, is in the eating. The filo dough is marvelously flaky, the ground walnut filling perfectly textured, and the syrup just sweet enough. Spot-on.

Prices, as I mentioned at the outset, are extremely reasonable. At $35.20, the enormous lamb shank is the most expensive item on the printed menu… but a majority of the entrées are in the mid-teens, topping out in the low- to mid-twenties. Sandwiches all hover around the ten-dollar mark; and there are no desserts over five dollars. Also bear in mind that portions are more than generous, so you’re not likely to go hungry here… And as Mr. Papaioannou points out on the restaurant’s website, although you come in as a customer… by the end of the evening, you’re likely to leave as a friend.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - Stolpman Wine DinnerOn Tuesday, February 26, 2019, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a special winemaker dinner with owner Peter Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards of Santa Barbara, California. The Restaurant Nicholas kitchen will create an exquisite five-course menu to pair with Stolpman’s unique offering of Rhone Varietals.

First Course: Ruby Red Beet Soup, Braised Beef Short Rib, Dill Crème Fraiche; Wine Pairing: 2017 Ballard Canyon, Sauvignon Blanc, Stolpman

Second Course: Drunken Goat Cheese Pierogi, Heirloom Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter; Wine Pairing: 2018 Ballard Canyon Sangiovese, “Love You Bunches,” Stolpman

Third Course: Golden Tile Fish, Crispy Pork Belly, Chorizo Clam Chowder; Wine Pairing: 2017 Santa Barbara County, Para Maria de Los Tecolotes Red, Stolpman

Fourth Course: Braised Buffalo Short Rib, Heirloom Broccoli, Burn Onion Purée; Wine Pairing: 2016 Ballard Canyon, Syrah Estate, Stolpman

Fifth Course: Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake, Chocolate Pretzel Crunch, Coffee Crunch Ice Cream, Luxardo Cherries

The cost of the Stolpman winemaker dinner is $95.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!