Photo by Gabrielle Rubino Photography
Ralph Rubino is taking the lessons he learned from his years at Westchester restaurants like The Cookery and now-closed Restaurant North and putting them into practice as general manager of the recently opened Cru Fine Wines & Spirits in Bedford Hills. He and owner Meg Burdick aim to make the store a neighborhood go-to. “We want this be to a place where we build relationships with our customers, where they know and trust the person selecting the items on the shelves,” Rubino says, adding that his wine-distribution and sales contacts, and knowing area chefs, will make the difference at Cru. “I like to bring in wines where the winemakers are out in the fields with their grapes.” Wines such as a Francesco Rinaldi “Cannubi” Barolo from Polaner Selections fit that bill. “Polaner likes to buy wines from family-owned-and-operated vineyards,” Rubino says.
In the spirits category Rubino stays abreast of what’s craft, and what’s trending such as the popularity of mezcal and the Aperol Spritz. The store has a wine station, so customers can sample wines, and Rubino likes to “engage customers about what they’re drinking in area restaurants, if they’re looking for a wine for a special occasion or everyday drinking, and to talk about food pairings.” Down the road he’s aiming to collaborate with area restaurateurs. “We want to bring value-added experiences to shopping at this store,” Rubino says.