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I fell madly in love with Italian beer a few weeks ago, after an impromptu introduction at L’Artusi. Ray Isle and I had dropped in for a late bite after the Tasting Table launch party and went straight for a gorgeous bottle of 1994 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva. Halfway through our meal, two glasses of beer were dropped at our table courtesy of Best Cellars CEO Josh Wesson. I thought it was a strange gesture, given that we were at a restaurant known for its stellar wines (and cocktails). The beer—Grado Plato Strada San Felice —was a chestnut ale made in Piedmont and was one of the most unusual, deliciously nuanced beers I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. It had tons of body and an earthiness from the chestnuts, with just a hint of sweetness. It was so good that we ordered a bottle for dessert. Seeing our enthusiasm, L'artusi general manager Kevin Garry delivered a puckery taste of Le Baladin Super (Sour Edition 2005), which is brewed right outside of Turino.
Garry hails from Gramercy Tavern, where he helped put together the restaurant’s superambitious beer list. Now, Garry works with L’Artusi director/owner Joe Campanale and beverage director Aaron Sherman to create a well-edited brew list, which includes five esoteric Italian beers. The Italians seem to be having a beer moment. I'm thrilled to see the team at L'Artusi is helping spread the word.