Those that have weak constitutions may wish to stop reading.  The images below are graphic and likely will cause extreme hunger

Tuscan Vines descended upon the best “Little Italy” in New York City just prior to the Easter weekend in order to stock up on essential wares and of course, sample local delicacies courtesy of the amazing Zero Otto Nove.
The group started with a selection of mixed antipasto that were partially washed down with the best Negroni I’ve ever had. Three simple ingredients, but why can’t I make them this good at home??
The Famous Negroni:  Campari, Gin, & Sweet Vermouth

The Antipasti….

Baby Octopus Stew: The tomato takes on an amazing briney flavor from the sea!

No ubiquitous fried calamari here.  Tender sauteed chunks with bitter olives, red and yellow peppers and baby arugula delicately dressed.

Polenta, baby meatballs, and goat cheese.  Totally outstanding!

I Primi…….

With hunger temporarily sated, we began pouring over the pizza selections.  Zero Otto Nove gets it’s name from the area code of Salerno, from where Chef-Owner Roberto hails.  They have some of the best wood-fired pizza I’ve ever tasted.

Fresh Mozzarella, Sausage & Broccoli Rabe is the “San Matteo”
Pancetta, San Marzano Tomato, Grated Cheese & Basil
Simple. Classic. Perfect. Margherita.

With all this lovely food, we chose a versatile red from the Wine List:  The 2010 il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino.  I’ve had the 2009 on a few occasions so I was eager to try the successor vintage. Happily, not only did it pair perfectly well with the food, but it’s a delicious bottle of red. 
In the glass, it’s a dark garnet with pretty violet reflections at the rim.  The primary aromas in this youthful wine are crushed berries, spice and a wonderful floral aromatic expression. In the mouth the wine is all about balance and elegance. A solid core of berry fruit is framed with spices, new leather, and sweet dried herbs. Delicious and long with wonderful balance to the acids, tannins and fruit.  I don’t know what more you could want from a Rosso di Montalcino. Il Poggione is on a roll.  92 points. $45 on the list. 
Wonderful Sangiovese from Il Poggione
It’s easy to do Dolce for 6 when you can just order Pizza Nutella and everyone gets a slice!
With Perfect Espresso and Fernet Branca neat – this simply cannot be beaten!

You need to stroll off some of these lunch calories with some shopping.  As expected, the Avenue was very busy, but not nearly as cramped as I’d expected.
Pete’s Meat Market – There’s nothing you can’t find here: Pheasants, Rabbit, Whole Lambs, etc.

Just One of the Cases at Pete’s
After a stop at Teitel Brothers for meats for the Pizza Rustica, cheeses, oils, salt packed anchovies, olives, and pasta, it was off to a favorite for cured Salumi.  Even if I don’t need anything from this shop, sometimes I just pop inside for the smell!

The Calabria Pork Store
Finally, after a trip to the Soccer Shop, where the boys got some Azzuri and Inter clothing, there was time to hit one of the Bakeries for crusty bread and a local wine shop where I scored a magnum of 2007 Castello Banfi Summus for $75.  I’ve single 750ml bottles for as high as $60.  
Homemade Pizza Rustica

Ci Vediamo!
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