Sometimes you meet people who seem to have a great story. I had dinner a couple of weeks ago at L’Artusi with Valentina Migotto and Dario De Conti from Ca’ Momi in Napa Valley, thoroughly enjoyed their story, the food and their wine.
Dinner was a fun and festive evening pairing their wines with L’Artusi’s creative Italian cuisine. While I chose the restaurant, Valentina mentioned that it was on their short list of places to go while in New York. A win/win situation.
Valentina came to USA in 1997 with her husband, primarily for Stefano to share his expertise in wine filtration with American winemakers. Dario came over a few years later to do the same thing. In Napa Valley they created a restaurant, Ca’ Momi Enoteca, where Valentina is the chef, and a winery where Stefano and Dario are the winemakers.
My first question was, of course, “What does Ca’ Momi mean?” I was told it is Italian (slang) for House of Momi (Casa di Momi), a family home in Veneto, Italy. The house was named in honor of “Momi dea Bionda,” who according to my hosts is legendary in the Veneto for his fiery obsession with safeguarding his home and vineyards.
Obsessive seems to be a theme with them. Their business is named after someone whom they describe as obsessive, Valentina describes her food as “obsessively authentic Italian,” and the wines are described as “obsessively passionate.”
Their restaurant uses organic vegetables from its own gardens, and all the cured meats are flown in from Italy. In her obsessive manner, the restaurant is one of the few Italian restaurants in the country that is VPN certified. Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) is an organization that certifies the authenticity of Pizza Napoletana. According to them: “This certification is given to pizzerias who meet strict requirements that respect the tradition of the art of the Neapolitan pizza making.”
They have also received the Ospitalita Italiana seal, which according to them: Is “a symbol of quality and authenticity granted by the Italian government to Italian restaurants around the world that promote authentic Italian gastronomic culture and standards.”
So now to the wines: While they have a broad selection of wines in different price categories, we only tried four. To purchase any of their wines, go to their Website.
We paired the Ca’ Momi Chardonnay 2012 (Carneros/Napa) with L’Artusi’s raw day boat scallops (olive oil/lemon) as well as the sweetbreads with leek puree, capers, olives and currents. It paired beautifully with both. The wine is fairly full bodied. It has a bit of oak influence, but the fruit takes center stage with apricot, apple, pear and sweet spices.
We paired the Ca’ Momi Pinot Noir 2011 (Carneros/Napa) with roasted mushrooms with ricotta and a fried egg as well as with the Branzino with lemon, olives and honey. The Pinot showed beautifully with both. It’s not very oaky, and has opulent red fruit along with tea and cedar nuances.
The next wine was the Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Napa), which we paired with a variety of soft cheeses. The wine is lovely, ripe and soft on the palate with notes of cassis, red fruit and expresso; the nose was very smoky with hints of spice and cedar. It’s a simple but delicious Cab.
Finally, we had the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 (Napa). This is a big, intense wine with notes of licorice, vanilla, dark chocolate and cedar. It has firm tannins and decent acidity. We were surprised that it paired gorgeously with the roasted chicken (confit) with hen of woods mushrooms. It definitely would have been too big for roasted chicken breast.
All in all, the first three wines were a pleasure to drink on their own or with food. The Reserve Cab – at least for me – really needed big flavors and textures of the chicken dish to balance it out.
L’Artusi is located at 228 West 10th Street in the West Village (212.255.5757) *Please note that reservations can be hard to come by.
If you visit Napa Valley, you should make a point of visiting Ca’ Momi Enoteca at 610 First Street in the town of Napa. (707.257.4992)