The SOMM Journal

December 2017 / January 2018

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Page 122 of 124

122 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2017/2018 GLITTERING AND SLEEK, The Americana at Brand in Glendale, California is the epitome of the Los Angeles shopping oasis. Nestled in the heart of this feast of retail and dining is Trattoria Amici, offer - ing a taste of authentic Italian cuisine from Chef Ezio Puccioni. Its beverage program is skillfully curated by Andrea Scuto, Sommelier and Chief Operations Officer for the restaurant and its satellites at the Americana. While Scuto boasts a laundry list of qualifications and certifica - tions—from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers to his tenure as a culinary student at the Gambero Rosso cooking school in Italy—his true start in the busi - ness came much earlier in life. "When I was about 16, I was preparing to go to college for sociol- ogy and I remember all I wanted to do was play guitar," Scuto says with a laugh. His father wasn't thrilled with the idea, and offered a compromise: If Scuto went to sommelier school, he could also pursue music. So Scuto began working at a wine shop in Rome that also offered classes—a rare occurrence back in the late '80s and early '90s when "wine was starting to become mainstream," he says. Fast forward to 2010, when Scuto took a position at Trattoria Amici as office manager for the restaurant. Within three months, he had taken over the bever - age program and stepped into his role as COO of the company. At the time of this transition, the restaurant's wine list was interna- tional, but Scuto saw an opportunity to shift its emphasis. "I thought, we have fantastic wines from Italy and incredible local wines from California; why not focus on these two regions?" he says. Scuto has succeeded in coupling this localized approach with a desire to bridge the gap between the winemaking process and the wine-drinking pro - cess. "My whole goal is to bring people closer to wine," he explains. "Wine is one of the few products made by man that—if it is done right—gives back." Next, we stop in at Ombra wine bar, also located at the Americana. As we sip a permutation from the Gin and Tonic menu, Scuto opines that we are in fact "in a golden age for spirits." He credits the craft cock - tail movement for bringing the industry "out of the era of the '45-second martini'" while also reinvigorating long-lost recipes and spirits. "Everything is very high quality and gaining new life in the hands of these curious and crafty bartenders," notes Scuto. "I try to source spirits from local producers—Ventura County, San Francisco, and even here in Los Angeles—and even though they're a little rougher around the edges and not as polished as some of the larger spirits producers, they have an energy that is recognized by our guests when they order and enjoy these cocktails." story and photo by Karen Moneymaker From Rome to Los Angeles SOMMELIER ANDREA SCUTO BRIDGES THE GAP BETWEEN WINEMAKERS AND HIS GUESTS

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