By BETHANY WIEGAND
Three local restaurants have received the honor of being listed in Wine Spectator magazine's annual Restaurant Wine List Award, and for each of the restaurants, this is not a first-time feat.
The requirements for being added to the list include depth of wine list, number and variety, not to mention knowledge of the wine presented.
For Le Jeune Chef and DiSalvo's in Williamsport and Elizabeth's in Lewisburg, this accomplishment not only gives credit to the restaurant, it solidifies the knowledge that each restaurant has to prepare a wine list that is of national compliment. This is not a first-time honor for each of the restaurants that offer their patrons not only delicious food, but complementary wines to go with it.
Each restaurant was required to go through an application process, including presentation of the wines they offer, servers' knowledge of the wines and variety.
Le Jeune Chef
Le Jeune Chef, on the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus, has a dual purpose: serving the public and also educating them on the food and wine that is served. Le Jeune Chef has been on the list since 1995.
"First of all, our slogan is, 'Education in Fine Dining,' " said Fred Becker, dean of hospitality at Penn College. "We want to have food and wine accessible for guests, but we want to expose them to food and wine that perhaps they are not as accustomed to."
Le Jeune Chef has been granted the award of "Best of Award of Excellence," which puts the restaurant in the second tier of the list. Le Jeune Chef is one of 876 worldwide recipients of this award. Their wine list includes 485 wines. Le Jeune specializes in European wines, but also features a variety of wines from the United States.
"We work hard to have European wines, but we also have wines to represent New York, Pennsylvania and California," Becker said.
Amy Seaton, dining room manager and one of the primary buyers for the wine list, explained that selecting wines for the wine list is not an easy task.
"We talk about the wines, we test them, we talk about food and wine pairings. We've worked hard for this. To maintain a list like this is a commitment," Seaton said.
Along with the educational side, Le Jeune Chef also is a place where students can learn first-hand the ins and outs of fine dining and wine pairings. Students takes classes, including a tasting class for students older than 21, where they go into depth about the wines. The students also are required to train as servers in the restaurant.
"When we train students, we work hard and help them learn the fundamentals of matching and pairing the wine with food," Becker said.
Student Darnell Bungy has taken the Wine and Beverage classes and will graduate in Spring 2013.
"We learn the fundamentals of wine, the areas where they are made, flavors, aromas, varieties and different geography," he said. "We learn the different grapes, and how climate plays a big part."
Bungy explained that the class is very detailed and covers all facets of wine, including pairing wines with food.
Assistant Dean Layne Eggers explained that Le Jeune Chef has started two new menus that include a lot more variety and products that are grown locally.
"It opens up more local connections as well," Eggers said. He also explained that there is a full-time service staff, and students also take turns serving in the restaurant.
For more information about Le Jeune Chef, visit www.pct.edu/lejuenechef.
Disalvo's Restaurant, 341 E. Fourth St., has been on the Wine Spectator list since 2004. Tait Carnevale, steward of the wine list, has been employed by DiSalvo's since 1997, and also put together the wine list.
"Our wine list is primarily directed toward Italian wines. It complements the food and goes hand in hand," Carnevale said. "We look for items that are lesser known and aren't available in stores. We keep a nice selection of depth and older vintages," he said.
DiSalvo's also likes to keep the cost reasonable for customers by buying in bulk any time they can.
"If you find us on the list, we've always been listed as inexpensive, a good value. We provide our customers with the best wines," Carnevale said.
DiSalvo's also offers in-house training for its servers, making sure their knowledge is up to par to answer any questions customers might have, even bringing experts from Italy into the restaurant.
"We try to pair our wines with our customers' tastes. A lot of people come in and ask for what they are familiar with. We try to give them an option to try new things, to show them things that they might not know," Carnevale said.
DiSalvo's tried to achieve the recognition for three years.
"We put a lot of effort toward it. Well-traveled people recognize it very easily. Having this level to us is crucial. It provides our clientele with what they expect from us," Carnvale said.
For more information, visit www.disalvopasta. com.
Elizabeth's, An American Bistro, 412 Market St., Lewisburg, has been on the Wine Spectator list for 10 consecutive years. Owner Liz Long-Furia explained that the application process shows that the staff cares about wine and the wines served.
"The award communicates the wine list without people having to see it. We have a lot of people come in that enjoy drinking wine with food. We also have people who will discuss or want to talk about the wine. We train our staff to know the list. It opens doors for us and starts communication," Long-Furia said.
Elizabeth's also tries to keep a great variety at a great price as well.
"We try to keep a wine list where you can buy a nice bottle for $20 to $25 and go from there," Long-Furia said.
Elizabeth's menu changes seasonally, as do the wines the restaurant pairs with the food.
The list offers a wide variety of wines, which is a requirement to be placed on the Wine Spectator list, and includes European, California, Oregon and Washington wines. The staff is trained to be knowledgeable about the wine, including specialized training in food and wine pairings every time a new menu comes out, Long-Furia said.
"We look for 'bistro-friendly' wines that pair well with ethnic and rustic food, and that are priced reasonably," Long-Furia said. "Examples include Domaine de la Perriere Sancerre, from France; Trimbach Pinot Gris, from Alsace; Laxis Albarino from Spain; Evolution Nine 15th Edition and Bergstorm Pinot Noir from Oregon; Rizzi Barbaresco, from Italy; and Trivento Malbec, from Argentina."
Wine and food pairing classes are taught by John P. Furia and the specialty wine purchasing agent, John Corr.
Long-Furia said the wine cellar has 450 bottles and the restaurant's wine by the glass program serves 17 varietal options, including the wine flight, which changes seasonally and weekly.
"Wine is a personal thing. You have customers who always like the same thing, but then you get to help them find something different as well," Long-Furia said. "There is something on the list for everyone."
For more information about Elizabeth's, visit their Facebook page or www.elizabethsbistro. com.