"The great thing about lasting 24 years is that you've lasted 24 years," said Nicola Marzovilla, owner of Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner I Trulli in New York. But to keep up with over two decades' worth of rising rent costs and an evolving dining scene, Marzovilla is making some changes at the longstanding Italian restaurant.
Ben Smallman, an alum of high-end New York spots the Modern, Aureole, Del Posto and, most recently, Gabriel Kreuther, was brought on as executive chef. He is incorporating his background in French fine dining with I Trulli's traditional Puglian cuisine. The new menu will develop over time, with the kitchen trying out new dishes weekly. "The idea is to just update and reinvigorate what we've been doing for many years without drastically changing it, because we're trying to stay true to our roots," said Marzovilla, a native of Puglia.
Dora Marzovilla, Nicola's 83-year-old mother, makes all of I Trulli's pastas by hand and will now work with Smallman to add new shapes to the mix, including cappellacci, sacchetti, garganelli and gnocchi. Her menu mainstays—such as the malloreddus with saffron, sausage and tomato, the orecchiette in rabbit ragù, and the cavatelli with broccoli rabe and toasted almonds—"will never change," according to Smallman. I Trulli's 475-selection, all-Italian wine list is also not expected to change.
Next door, I Trulli's recently closed sister restaurant, Sottosuolo, is being revamped into a new casual concept called Ristoro del Cinghiale, expected to open late this summer or early fall. Both the food (also overseen by Smallman) and the 100-selection wine list will focus on Tuscany. Marzovilla is opening a similar concept in Panzano, Italy, called Enoteca de Cinghiale.—L.W.
Chef David Burke is transforming the food and beverage programs at two New York state hotels: the Garden City Hotel and the Adelphi Hotel, in Garden City and Sarasota Springs, respectively. Burke heads Restaurant Award winner BLT Prime by David Burke.
"The food and beverage menus in a hotel really help shape the image of it locally and create the allure that defines who it is. We thought David was perfect for that," Garden City general manager Grady Colin told Wine Spectator, citing the chef's fun, unpretentious food as an ideal fit to broaden the hotel's customer base.
The Garden City Hotel's Polo Steakhouse will become Red Salt Room by David Burke and Polo Lounge will become King Bar by David Burke. The chef will also be relaunching the Patio Bar and revamping the catering cuisine. A soft opening is planned for the first week of June, with a grand opening the following week.
With these partnerships, Burke will showcase his at-times whimsical cuisine, like the "clothesline bacon"—strips of cured pork belly hanging from a string—which will be available at both hotels. "Right now, he is working to put his culinary finesse on the elevated dining experience at the restaurants, as well as catering and in-room dining services," Adelphi Hotel general manager Helen Watson said via email. The chef won't completely overhaul the hotels' wine programs, but rather reshape them to complement the new menus.—J.H.
A new location of Eddie V's Prime Seafood, which has 12 Award of Excellence winners, opened May 4 in Charlotte, N.C. The restaurant offers fresh seafood, steaks and nightly jazz performances.
The wine list is similar to other Eddie V's outposts, with about 200 moderately priced selections focusing on California, and nearly 40 wines available by the glass. Eddie V's Prime Seafood is part of Darden Restaurants, which owns a total of 113 Restaurant Award winners across the country.—J.H.
Best of Award of Excellence winner Craft Los Angeles welcomed a new beverage director this month. Replacing Sharon Coombs, Elizabeth Kelso joins Craft after working as a sommelier for various L.A. restaurants such as Grand Award winner Wally's Beverly Hills. The 425-selection wine list at Craft L.A. has strengths in California, France and Italy.
"We are looking forward to what lies ahead with Liz growing and building on our established wine and beverage program," general manager Todd Thurman told Wine Spectator via email.—B.G.
The Grill by Thomas Keller, the chef's signature concept in collaboration with Seabourn luxury cruises, is now featured on the newly renovated Seabourn Sojourn. The restaurant is also available on Seabourn's Encore, Ovation, Quest and Odyssey cruises.
Keller created the 100-selection wine list with Erik Johnson, head sommelier of Keller's Grand Award winner the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. "Given the international clientele, the list is varied and yet focused, showcasing wines from various regions around the world including friends and neighbors from the Napa Valley," Johnson told Wine Spectator via email.—J.H.
Steak-house company Del Frisco's Restaurant Group announced a deal to purchase Barteca, parent group of Barcelona Wine Bar, for $325 million. The groups boast a combined total of 63 Restaurant Award winners. Read the full story.