Alba, Italy arrived in Milwaukee Sunday night as Federico Ceretto of Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole in the Langhe area of Piedmont in northwestern Italy visited Ristorante Bartolotta for a Piemontese wine dinner that included tastes of five Ceretto wines.
More than 50 people signed up for the dinner, which filled the dining room at the Tosa Bartolotta's at 5:30 p.m. In addition to an authentic Piedmontese meal -- the scrumptious agnolotti del plin in sage butter was the highlight for me! -- diners were treated to samples of Ceretto's Bricco Rocche Barolo, Zonchera Barolo, Asij Barbaresco, Blange Arneis and Moscato d’Asti. While the Blange' and the fruity, lighty fizzy Moscato were wonderful expression of two classic Piedmontese whites, the three reds showed the range and depth that can be achieved from the nebbiolo grape. The barolos alone made the experience a more than satisfying one!
The dinner, created by Bartolotta chef Juan Urbieta -- who spent a year cooking at Milan's notoriously difficult San Domenico -- drew universal praise, including from the 30-year-old Ceretto, who declared it one of the best Italian meals he’s enjoyed in the U.S.
Ceretto addressed room on a few occasions, talking not only about Ceretto’s wine and history, but about the great traditions of agriculture and winemaking in Piemonte.
His friendly demeanor and his stellar wines made me proud to come from Piemontese stock. Urbieta's meal in Joe Bartolotta's warm dining room staffed with enthusiastic food and wine lovers made me proud to be a Milwaukeean, too.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.