The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2012

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Page 78 of 152

General Manager and Sommelier, Michael���s on Naples and Michael���s Pizzeria T he Southern California island community of Naples will never be mistaken for its Italian namesake. In fact, it���s technically not a town���it���s a tiny sub-region of the sprawling Los Angeles coastal suburb of Long Beach. Yet it does boast two restaurants that would make the Old Country proud: The elegant Italian eatery Michael���s on Naples and its casual, Fellini poster���adorned neighbor, Michael���s Pizzeria. It has certainly done right by Angelenos, as both venues nabbed bestin-category plaudits Massimo Aronne. from Zagat in October. One of the chief reasons for this acclaim can be traced directly to the eateries��� General Manager and Sommelier, Massimo Aronne. Born in Napoli, Italy, the effortlessly charming Aronne looks as if he were born to endlessly pontiicate about the Italian wines he selects for his venues. Certainly, he possesses enough enological acumen to design wine programs that perfectly match each restaurant���s decidedly contrasting styles. While Michael���s on Naples list is built to be an easy relection of the restaurant���s sophistication, Aronne takes a more scientiic approach to the Pizzeria���s list to make it appear simple and straightforward. ���The wines we feature in the pizzeria must have a high acidity, because you need to be mindful of not only the pizzas, but the toppings,��� he says. ���You need to have a wine that has a strong backbone in order to make the pairing work properly.��� Aronne���s passion and astute study of wines leads him to fall hard for new discoveries���he is currently infatuated with the Pugnitello wines made by Tuscan producer Cantine Olivi���but it also turns him into a tour guide of sorts whenever he educates his guests on the respective wine lists. ���I want to take people to Italy and guide them through the country through whatever dining experience they choose,��� he says. ���Rich Manning Olivi Pugnitello, imported by Supreme Wines, Pleasantville, NY. 78 / the tasting panel / december 2012 HOTO: COURTESY OF MICHAEL ON NAPLESP ���S Taking Inventory with. . . Massimo Aronne THE ���5��� LIST Massimo Aronne���s Top Five Faves 1 A ���awless dining experience. 2 The discovery of a perfect dish. 3 Anything involved with the Slow Food movement. 4 Making a connection with a good farm or winery. 5 Servers that are also great storytellers. Massimo Aronne���s Top Five Pet Peeves 1 Customers who assume all Italian restaurants are the same. 2 Poor restaurant manners. 3 People without reservations that get upset when the best table, or any table, is unavailable. 4 Guests that complain about the meal after assuring the server that everything is ���ne. 5 Cheap, one-dimensional wine programs.

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