The Somm: Gretchen Allen
The Restaurant: Valentino
The Wines: Cru Gaja Barbaresco, $1,500, and Sori Tilden, $1,500
The Color: My favorite story was a table came in late, but had called ahead so I had a reservation name. Party of 12 that then swelled to 14. Didn't sit down till around 8 p.m. and immediately started dropping Angelo Gaja's name (the Italian winemaker), and how he had had lunch with him recently at his home. So I was immediately suspicious. This customer in question was young, good looking and at the time I was thinking, "Hello, Mr. Namedropper!" And he proceeds to order a couple of Sori Tildens at around $1,500 a bottle. I get his signal loud and clear, "Let's play ball" and I then lean in his ear, and make it clear, "You entertain your clients, and I will handle the rest."
We just start sending family style food such as Truffles, Agnolotti al Plin, tomahawk rib eye sliced tagliatta style, branzino and much more. The table was groaning. My job then became to keep the wine coming. As long as they ate, they drank and we just started with the oldest, 1972, and depleted all of my Cru Gaja Barbarescos. It was heavenly as my job is to taste all older bottles and check for integrity. My servers got to taste too, which was a treat for them, and every time I thought they were done the host would yell for "One more bottle, Gretchen!" which would make my captain make this little squealing sound that would send me into fits of laughter.
That table stayed for hours, and the host left feeling like a king. You can't put a price on that feeling?but the $20,000-plus he spent on a meal that his guests will never forget is something that I myself will always treasure. It's not just about making dollars for our owners; it is knowing that we gave you the experience you were looking for.
· All Coverage of Valentino [~ELV~]
· All Coverage of Whale Week [~ELV~]
Valentino [Photo: Courtesy]