Bellavitae [Closed]

24 Minetta Lane

New York City, NY 10012

tel (212) 473-5121

August 2007

Bellavitae has become one of my favorite informal places to eat in New York. Located in the West Village, Bellavitae serves simple, homestyle cuisine with an emphasis on using the finest raw materials. The clean, well-articulated flavors are especially well suited to wine, which must be why my friends and I tend to go through a large number of bottles here. The wine list is well-chosen. While the icon wines can be on the expensive side there are also plenty of well-priced wines, including the Riservas from Produttori del Barbaresco. Highlights from the menu include the fresh bufala mozzarella and the paccheri with lamb ragu. I also love the grilled tuna steak with capers from the island of Salina and the delicate grilled lamb chops. I almost always order the same dishes, so this article covers wines from several recent dinners.

Bruno Giacosa’s 2003 Barbera d’Alba Falletto is a wine I have adored since I first tasted it from barrel a few years ago. Our bottles were terrific. The wine has naturally lost some of the vibrancy of the fruit it showed a few years ago but in the process it has acquired a lovely silkiness to its tannins. Giacosa’s 1998 Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva was a revelation. We caught this wine at the beginning of what will likely turn out to be a long and rewarding drinking window. The wine blossomed from the glass with a captivating array of macerated cherries, flowers, spices and menthol. It was sweet, long and enveloping on the palate, all while maintaining the inner tension which will allow it to age gracefully for many years to come. Unfortunately Roberto Voerzio’s 1996 Barolo Brunate did not enjoy a strong showing. When first opened it revealed an intense and promising core of blackberry jam and cassis, but then the wine quickly shut down never to re-emerge. Vietti’s 2001 Barolo Rocche was a model of gracefulness and elegance. It offered expressive aromatics and layered fruit, with silky tannins and a surprisingly approachable personality at this stage. The next two wines were served blind. Giacomo Conterno’s 1999 Barolo Cascina Francia was instantly recognizable by its signature aromatics, yet this bottle was so fresh I thought it was the 2001. The wine was gorgeously delineated and pure, with plenty of fruit supported by elegant yet firm tannins. It gave the impression of still being a wine that is holding back much of its power and ultimate potential. This was a great showing for the 1999 Cascina Francia. Fortunately I redeemed myself with the 2001 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo, which was a pretty easy wine to pick out. The Montepulciano nose and flavor profile were dead giveaways. This was another wine that showed beautifully and more than held its own with the other bottles on the table. We went through four or five bottles of Produttori del Barbaresco’s 2001 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà. My task was to perform quality control, and of course I dutifully obliged. Every bottle was spectacular and merited more than my original score of 92 points. The wine showed all the classic Rabajà notes in its balsamic, spiced bouquet and sweet dark fruit, with notable power as well as finesse. I was surprised by how open and just plain enjoyable this Barbaresco was. The Produttori’s 1996 Barbaresco Riserva Pajè didn’t have enough aeration to show what it is capable of, yet even the small glimpse we got of this wine was fantastic. Still tightly coiled, it gradually opened to reveal focused layers of spiced fruit struggling to emerge from under the wine’s tannic weight. The Pajè came across as quite fresh and vibrant. Those lucky enough to own it are in for a treat, and this bottle, which was sourced directly from the estate, was a gem. Its sweetness and class lingered long after the wine was finished.



Mozzarella di bufala and prosciutto

Paccheri with lamb ragu

Grilled tuna with Salina capers

Grilled rack of lamb



Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba Falletto



Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano



Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate



Vietti Barolo Rocche



Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia



Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo



Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà



Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pajè


--Antonio Galloni