The Date and Time: Monday, June 9, 2014 6PM to 9PM
The Event: a pre-launch promotion dinner at Pastizza, Esplanade and Market Street
The Target Audience: members of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
The Availability/Catalogue: all of the wines at this new restaurant are from Thomas George Estate Winery in Healdsburg, California with vineyards in the Russian River Valley.
The Quote/Background: This is an upscale casual dining establishment in the St. Lawrence district, emphasizing a variety of great pastas and pizzas (hence, its name). There are other mains as well, of course, including short ribs, branzino filet, duck, salmon, chicken and others. Paolo Paolini (of Centro, Splendido, Mistura, and Sopra), the COO, wants it to be a flagship operation with a few other places in the GTA, and then some nationally. It is a big restaurant, with a huge wine cellar rack floating in the air (or so it seems) over the bar. This location will supply the other GTA restaurants with housemade pasta and pizza dough. There will also be take away offerings. One of the owners is Thomas George Estate Winery in Sonoma – they will be supplying all of the wines through their Ontario agent B & W. Some of the wines for the "by the glass or bottle" program will feature the Pastizza name on the label, selling for around $40 or so at the restaurant, and then later to consumers via the agent. Paolo expects to have about 40 different wines, including a California Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Viognier, and Zinfandel (which may be rebranded as Pastizza Primitivo) – they are all in the California style, with lower acid levels. The restaurant is aiming for under $40 a head with wine, or about $100 a couple with taxes and gratuities.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pastizza North Coast Brut Sparkling Wine NV
-Thomas George Estates Zinfandel 2011 Russi Vineyard Russian River Valley
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pastizza North Coast Viognier 2012
-Thomas George Estates Chardonnay 2010 Russian River Valley
-Thomas George Estates Pinot Noir 2011 Russian River Valley
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Pastizza North Coast Pinot Grigio 2012
-Pastizza North Coast Tempranillo 2010
The Food: we started with many different thin crusted pizzas, beginning with the classic margherita, followed by pizzas with Kobe pastrami, cheeses, giardiniera, wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, and more. With these we had the sparkler which was much in the prosecco vein. This was followed by a communal sitdown dinner beginning with all semolina casarece pasta and clams in a yellow tomato sauce (Viognier and Pinot Grigio for this: good matches). Next up was a beef raviolone (large ravioli) with a wild mushroom sauce and the intriguing Tempranillo and Zinfandel wines. A more classic pairing came with the main, an Irish organic pistachio encrusted salmon filet, with asparagus, bitters salad, organic chicken, scalloped potatoes, and boneless short ribs: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Russian River estates. There was something for everyone as we all picked and chose what we wanted to eat off platters. The culmination was an excellent housemade sticky pudding (made with date sugar) and espresso. No dessert wine, but who had room anyway? Certainly the kitchen was accomplished.
The Contact Person: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 89.