Tony’s is rarely the subject of a cheap eats column, not that I have ever really adhered to the cheap eats theme. But, if you are dining at Tony’s for a celebration – and Tony’s is remains an excellent choice for a celebratory dinner – you might want to try to save a few dollars while still enjoying what will certainly be an expensive meal (expect $300 per couple these days, without excessive caviar, fresh truffle or vinous indulgence). You cannot skimp on wine; rather, wine is a necessity. The cooking at Tony’s, which is mostly Italian today, demands wine.
So, what to do? Some friends were dining at Tony’s last weekend and asked for some help. With a wine list of over 900 choices, prices that average well in excess of $400 per bottle, and prices which are rather expensive, some care is necessary. Though those vintages of sought-after producers Mascarello, Gravner and Radikon can be tempting for under $300, that is still a lot of money for wine at a restaurant, especially when you are paying.
Here were my suggestions for enjoyable and not terribly expensive bottles after perusing the wine list again:
Marco Felluga Collio Friulano - $45 - Friulianos are typically medium-bodied and with a hint of salinity, terrific with most seafood preparations. I have been a big fan of Marco Felluga (and his sister’s and cousin’s wines, too) since tasting with each of them two years ago at their respective properties in Friuli. Those wines, when I can find them, still taste as vibrant and appealing as they did at their source.
Abbazia di Novecella Kerner - $55 – I find that Kerner tastes a lot like Chardonnay in its more restrained guise, while being a bit more aromatic. This will be in a lighter, leaner style, and from a very good producer in the Alto Adige (and the biggest monastic complex in the Tyrol).
Sandrone Barbera d'Alba - $75 – With high acidity, Barberas are absolutely terrific food wines, especially with broadly Italian cuisines; this is from one of the top Barolo producers.
Vietti Barbera d'Asti - $45 – Same as above, and $30 cheaper. Barbera in Asti generally receives better vineyards than in the Alba area, which devotes its prime spots for Nebbiolo to make Barolo.
Tomassi Valpolicella Ripasso - $70 – Good acidity and the ripasso method will provide a nicely full-figured, but accessible wine.
Renieri Brunello di Montalcino - $90 – A pretty big wine, as are all Brunellos; somehow this producer makes about the most affordable Brunellos around and these are still quite good.
Pierre Amadieu Vacqueyras - $65 – This is a southern Rhone appellation; southern Rhone wines are almost always quite complementary with food.
Famille Brechet, Lirac - $58 – Same as above.
My friends enjoyed both the Kerner from Abbazia di Novacella and the Renieri Brunello, both of which went well with their meals. They reported that the Renieri Brunello took a little time to open up – it’s a Brunello, which are always quite big – but did very well paired with a saddle of lamb and duck.
3755 Richmond Ave (between Edloe and Weslayan), 77046