Every year, Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Festival kicks off with one of the county’s most popular events for oenophiles. This year, it’s even bigger and better, thanks in no small part to a brand new host and event space that is perfectly suited for the evening’s theme.
Salute! A Wine Tasting Tour of Italy lets guests eat, drink, and mingle, all while sampling a bevy of Italian wines. World-renowned wine expert Kevin Zraly walks guests through more than twenty vinos representing Tuscany, Veneto, Piedmonte, Trentino-Alto Adige, Sicily, and Sardinia, including reds, whites, and yes, even a rosé or two.
For the first time this year, Salute! will be held at one of Westchester’s Top New Restaurants: Eastchester’s Gigante Restaurant & Bar. We caught up with co-owner Louis Gigante Jr. of Gigante’s father-son duo — the same team behind Mulino’s of Westchester — to see how the new venue is poised to revamp the event.
Gigante is hosting (and catering!) Salute! for the first time this year. How will you be utilizing your new space?
We are excited to welcome many new faces who might be visiting us for the first time. We are very proud of the ambiance we have created in the restaurant. We’ve also closed the restaurant to give the privacy and atmosphere we think is right for the event.
What made Gigante such a good fit for Salute! and vice versa?
We take the food and drinks we serve here at the restaurant very seriously. Almost everything served on our menu is scratch-made in-house, and we strive to always stay seasonal with our menu. We’re thrilled to be hosting Salute! because we know that the room will be packed with like-minded people who are passionate about food and wine.
What dishes will your kitchen be whipping up for the evening?
We are offering a prix fixe menu for the evening: three courses with selections for appetizers, entrées and dessert. Options for appetizers include our famous meatballs, burrata with tomato chutney, [and] crispy shrimp tempura. Entrée selections will include short rib, Faroe Island salmon, pork chop, and penne vodka.
Knowing your menu will have to pair with a variety of Italian wines throughout the evening, what kinds of flavors and textures are you designing into your menu? What was the thought that went into the selection?
We wanted to stay true to the experience the attendees would get if they normally visited us on any regular night; we view this as a great introduction to those who have yet to discover that we are here in the neighborhood. As such, we didn’t want to veer too far off from what we feel strongly about. So many of the dishes chosen for this event are our most popular and requested dishes. They should pair well with most wines chosen. We feel confident that our selections — mostly Italian inspired dishes — will sing harmoniously with the wine poured that evening.
What’s the most pleasantly surprising wine pairing you’ve ever had?
I was very surprised by how well a dry Alsatian riesling paired with spicy Szechuan food. Didn’t think it would be easy to pair wine with food so assertive in spices and heat, but the pairing worked like a charm.
Wine on your mind all the time? Take a peek at the exciting lineup for our Wine & Food Fest this June 4-9. From the fine Italian wines featured at Salute! A Wine Tasting Tour of Italy, to our brand-new Food Truck Festival, this weekend is packed with signature experiences food and drink lovers can’t resist.