While a dish dubbed “thousand-layer lasagna” is likely to pique your interest, things get even more intriguing when you add an Italian-heavy wine list that pays particular attention to Barolo, Tuscany and Franciacorta. Last week, Vine Hospitality debuted Rollati Ristorante, a modern Italian-American restaurant in San Jose, Calif. This is the first Italian-focused restaurant from the Bay Area group responsible for several local favorites, including two Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning LB Steak locations and Award of Excellence winner Meso Modern Mediterranean, as well as a quartet of Award of Excellence–winning Left Bank Brasseries.
“Vine Hospitality has very French roots with our culinary founder, chef Roland Passot. But our CEO, Obadiah Ostergard, is Italian, and this is a nod to his heritage and upbringing and homage to his grandfather and family,” explained Vine Hospitality wine and spirits director Serena Harkey.
While the menu takes inspiration from various regions of Italy, many dishes are interpretations of Italian-American classics. Along with antipasti options, there are several pizzas, including a pie with spicy honey, mozzarella, soppressata and basil. House-made pastas include the aforementioned thousand-layer lasagna—made using a simple marinara, Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella—which guests can choose to enrich with beef short rib ragu, ladled over top.
In contrast to the French focus at Vine Hospitality’s other restaurants, Harkey took a deep dive into Italy for the wine list at Rollati Ristorante: “Barolo and Super Tuscans are the big drivers,” she said, noting that there is also an emphasis on sparkling Franciacorta wines. “It’s great to highlight some of the amazing, delicious sparkling wine coming out of Italy, which is also impressive for its great value.” Diners can expect examples from Guido Berlucchi, Ca’ del Bosco and more. A smattering of California wines are also featured. The restaurant opened with around 150 selections, but Harkey hopes to double that number in the coming years. Rounding out the beverage program are Italian-inspired cocktails, including standards like Negronis and spritzes along with inventive twists, such as a heirloom tomato Martini with olive oil–washed vodka, basil and white balsamic.
The 180-seat restaurant was designed by Arcsine, the same firm behind Vine’s Petite Left Bank in Tiburon and the Left Bank Brasserie in Jack London Square. The space is elegant and modern with rich greens and oranges. Brown leather elements throughout, along with splashes of gold and brass, lend a sleek and sophisticated feel. At the same time, black and white photos evoke a classic Italian diner.
Rollati occupies the ground floor of a new luxury apartment complex in downtown San Jose. “The fact that it is attached was the key opportunity,” Harkey said. “It creates built-in foot traffic.” For that reason, the restaurant also features an upscale provisions market with Italian pantry staples and freshly prepared foods for those on the go.—A.R.
Jason Rocheleau Opens Amari in Las Vegas
As in Miami and New York, the dining scene in Las Vegas is growing with every month. In August, the city gained a new project from restaurateur Jason Rocheleau and Heart & Vine Hospitality: Amari, located in UnCommons, a mixed-use, apartment-hospitality complex in the southwestern section, on Helen Toland Street. Rocheleau previously opened Bar Zazu and Best of Award of Excellence winner Brezza in Las Vegas’ Resorts World, among others.
“What excites us the most about opening Amari is the opportunity to bring a fresh and innovative approach to Italian-American cuisine in Las Vegas,” Rocheleau told Wine Spectator via email. “We aim to be a welcoming neighborhood eatery where locals and visitors alike can savor inventive flavors, handcrafted cocktails and diverse wines in a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.”
Rocheleau, who has worked with acclaimed culinary figures like Wolfgang Puck and Michael Mina, offers Italian cuisine at the new 120-seat, Art Deco–influenced Amari. Executive chef Brent Stanford prepares dishes like chicken cacciatore, the Italian sandwich (with provolone, lettuce and several types of cured meat), prosciutto with melon and a wide selection of pastas and pizzas, joined by classic desserts such as zeppole and tiramisu.
Corporate executive director of beverage Miklos Katona, formerly of Bar Zazu and Brezza, has assembled about 150 selections for the wine list, representing an 1,800-bottle inventory. Italy is the central focus there too; Katona has pulled together younger, ready-to drink wines along with older, harder-to find vintages and lesser-known varieties. “We are very excited to bring a new element to the Las Vegas off-Strip wine life,” said Katona, who has plans to double or even triple the size of Amari’s wine program. “We want our guests to feel like this is their home, where they will receive a friendly, knowledgeable and approachable wine suggestion, and an elevated wine service that might remind them of a fine-dining experience.”
Across the list, guests will find well-known names such as Puglia’s Tormaresca and Tuscany’s Badia a Coltibuono, along with California leaders like Jordan. True to its name, the restaurant also offers a considerable Amaro selection and Amaro-based cocktails from beverage pro Rafael Vazquez.
But that’s not all that wine lovers can look forward to if they stop by UnCommons. Working with chef Shawn McLain, the complex will soon host Wineaux, a combination wine shop, lounge and tasting bar serving small plates.—C.D.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar Closing in New York
Celebrated chef-restaurateur David Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar will close in New York on Sept. 30, per an announcement on the restaurant’s Instagram feed. Momofuku Ssäm Bar earned a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2023; it had previously held an Award of Excellence at its original East Village location before Chang and his team relocated to South Street Seaport, within a Pier 17 complex home to other acclaimed restaurants like Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s the Fulton.
“We will always be grateful for the teams past and present who made Ssäm Bar such a special restaurant over the past 17 years,” reads the post from the restaurant’s account. “It is hard to overstate the impact Ssäm Bar had on Momofuku and beyond.”
Momofuku Ssäm Bar offers Chang’s distinctive take on Asian-American cuisine, prepared by chef Kris Blumstead. Wine director Haera Shin oversees an extensive list of nearly 400 labels (representing a cellar of about 4,500 bottles), focused primarily on California and France, with bottles from leading domaines like Champagne’s Chartogne-Taillet and Burgundy’s Dominique Lafon, as well as West Coast leaders like Oregon’s Eyrie
Chang’s fans will still be able to enjoy his cuisine a bit farther uptown, in the Bowery, at the chef’s New York flagship, Momofuku Ko.—C.D.
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