"If there are more than three ingredients in my pasta it's not Italian," Nicola Marzovilla tells me while I'm sitting at the bar of Centovino enjoying a bowl of maccheroncini alla Bolognese. I couldn't agree more.
Centovino, is an Italian wine bar and wine shop created by Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell, the owners of Moss, the highly specialized design store and gallery in Soho, and Nicola Marzovilla, the owner of IlTrulli. So the place is as exceptional as you would imagine. You drink wine and water out of hand-blown Zwiesel crystal, eat off of Richard Ginori plates on tables of coated rubber. Everywhere you look there is a big, important chandelier hanging around, and yet your food is pure, simple Italian fare. The place feels like an extension of Moss's store but in place of the store's studied reverence, the wine bar comes to life, sort of like the film version of a favorite book. To underline this, the waiters wear tee shirts mocking the phrase that appears everywhere at Moss, "please do not touch."
A glass wall separates the bar from the wine store with its sensational Swarovski chandelier of colorful grape clusters. So if you had a wine you liked with your meal, you can go right next door and buy a bottle. Who could ask for more?
But let's get to the food and wine. The thin, salted breadsticks were the best I've ever had, and the sucrine salad ( bibb lettuce) with tomatoes, pecorino and pignoli was perfectly dressed with lots of lemon and generous chunks of pecorino. It was perfect on a 100-degree day. The maccheroncini alla Bolognese was made with home made pasta, fresh peas, and a rich Bolognese sauce. Nicola's mother makes the pasta everyday at Il Trulii. The black sea bass on Sicilian Capone melted in your mouth, and the tangy Caponatina ( their version of caponata) was sublime.
The wines by the glass were equally great. The 2004 Sauvignon Rondo die Sassy was rich and deep with wonderfully complex minerality, and the 2003 Valpolocella Classico Superiore from Bussola was perfect with the pasta. There are also lots of great regional wines to discover on this list.
Now for dessert! I had probably my favorite dessert of recent memory here. A watermelon granita layered with what I think was whipped cream, maybe mixed with some mascarpone and topped with some sort of candied watermelon rind. It was so unbelievably refreshing and delicious that I seriously considered coming back the next day to have it again.
Centovini_25 West Houston Street_NYC_
Wine Bar 212.219.2113_
Wine Shop 212.334.5348