Spectacular dinner and wine tasting at Gioco Restaurant
On June 14, Gioco in the South Loop invited a few lucky Chicagoans to join them for a spring wine event featuring the Domodimonti Winery (located in the Marche Region of Italy). The dinner was led by a representative of the winery and featured courses prepared by Chef Gaetano Ascione. Throughout the evening, guests sampled some of Domondimonti's superior vintages while Chef Ascione crafted superb food pairings to accompany the wines.
The dinner was served in the back room of Gioco, an area that was part of an original speakeasy from the 1920s. They have kept the original walls and much of that vintage decor and transformed the room into a quirky yet inviting space for an intimate dinner. For this wine dinner, there were 12 of us sitting around a large dining table, a perfect size for the room.
The passed appetizers were accompanied by the Piccolo Principe, a rosé made with Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. This intensely salmon pink wine was light and slightly dry and paired well with the arancini, meatballs, and fresh bruschetta. One interesting note, the bottle has a temperature-sensitive label. The color of the label changes so that you can tell when the wine is at the "perfect" serving temperature!
The first course consisted of a series of meats, cheeses, and olives as well as the most delicious burrata I have ever tasted! This course was paired with the Déjà V, a light white slightly reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc, but much smoother. We also tasted this wine with the second course, a creamy mushroom risotto with truffle oil finished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Course number three was a broiled Mediterranean white fish filet and paired with my favorite wine of the evening, the LiCoste. This wine has an intensely golden honey yellow color unlike any other wine I have seen in recent years. There was just a hint of oak, but only enough to smooth out any bite from the Pecorino grapes. This is definitely a wine to try for anyone who enjoys silky, smooth, white wines.
The main course was a grilled beef fillet and was, of course, paired with a red wine. The chosen wine here was one of Domodimonti's most popular items, the Solo Per Te crafted from the Montepulciano grape. Solo Per Te is tannic, but given a chance to sit in a carafe for an hour or so prior to the dinner it was a perfect accompaniment, somewhat chocolately but without any bitterness.
Finally, Chef Ascione thrilled us with a warm chocolate cake. For an added treat, he brought out some of his homemade basil gelato. It was unbelievable! Who knew that basil could make such a superb dessert?
I have only scratched the surface of the event, but there are two points to be made:
- Go to Gioco! This is fast becoming one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city.
- Check out the wines from Domodimonti winery! The quality is unsurpassed and the focus on natural production is exciting.
One of the hallmarks of this relatively young winery is the focus on sustainability and natural production. The result of their committment to these principles is a series of wines that are largely sulfite-free which helps reduce or eliminate any adverse reactions for those who have "issues" with sulfites. As someone who occasionally has reactions to sulfites, I can attest to this. After an evening of sampling five different wines, I had not a single reaction and not a trace of 'hangover.' For people who have problems with sulfites, I would definitely recommend checking out the Domodimonti wines. Your best bet is to head over to Gioco and order them with your meal. If you are intrepid, however, you can find a few select stores in the suburbs of Chicago which carry the Domodimonti wines. The winery website has a comprehensive list of both retail locations and restaurants/bars which carry their wine.
Gioco is located at 1312 S Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60605.
You can check out their website at http://www.giocorestaurant.com.
Gioco can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GiocoChi.
You can also follow them on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gioco_chicago