Otto e Mezzo Bombana has proved to not only be a great place to eat but also just for a casual happy hour with the girls from the office. I went there twice in September, first for aperitifs and then a birthday dinner.
The inexhaustible wine list of the only 3 star Michelin Italian restaurant outside of Italy is legendary and true however even as wine professionals we were stupefied by the choice and variety. That is in addition to their generous wine policy (I believe buy one and you can bring one but don't quote me on that) and of course the expertise and guidance of head sommelier Marino.
What he recommended and blew me away were this Sicilian wine, 'A Rina 2015, a very intense red that had surprising Burgundian style finesse, something I'm sure is quite hard to achieve in such a hot and unyielding climate. The wine was super young but still very approachable, which is more than what I can with a lot of the 2015 Burgundies I am trying so far. Only 30,000 bottles were made and the grape varieties include 94% Nerello Mascales (indigenous Etna grape) and 6% Nerello Cappuccio. With vines over 80 years old, the vineyards are farmed organically in rich volcanic soil on northern facing slopes of Mt. Etna, which explains the vibrancy and complexity of the wines.
The second round for the birthday dinner was similarly enjoyable. Head Chef Umberto Bombana's food reminded much of what I had in Italy, although nothing beats homemade pasta by a true Mama Italiana such as Marina. Another friend mentioned if I want truly innovative and interesting Italian food, I must head to Osteria Francescana in Modena.The wine was a Chianti Classico, which I know is an Italian classic that pairs well with everything we ate, however it was largely forgettable.
Nevertheless with overall quality of the food and the generous wine policy, Otto e Mezzo has shown itself to be a reliable dining destination and one to revisit without a doubt.