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We had been to Antonia’s a handful of times, but this was our first wine dinner there. They have 3 locations around Houston, so be sure to stop in if there’s one near you.

I appreciated that they had a mini cocktail menu display for each person, one side had the menu with the pairing and the other they offered a chance to buy a bottle you liked or mix and match a case. This isn’t something I had seen before and gave you  a chance to take something home. The manager was really welcoming and fantastic. He was very attentive and not just floating around, you can tell he cared about everything going on. For $72 a person the dinner and wine is a great value with personalization of items not on the menu. That being said I would love to have the roasted pepper bisque recipe….hint hint!

We where greeted with a welcome cocktail which was a raspberry prosecco. Bubbly with not to much raspberry it’s a nice way to kick of the night.

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The wine expert was a great speaker, the only complaint I had was he seemed like he was late for another event and bolted right when they served dessert. I‘m glad I got my questions in earlier in the night.

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First Course – Octopus and calamari salad (Marinated and grilled baby octopus and calamari cooled and mixed with julliened bell peppers and bermuda onions tossed in a citrus olive oil with fresh herbs) paired with Castagnolo Orvieto 2014 $36.68 a bottle. I have to admit I was nervous seeing this as the first course. It could be really good or really bad. A huge relief it was stunning! The calamari and octopus where so tender and full of flavor. I can’t tell you how many bad dishes I’ve come across I know there has to be someone cooking it right. The wine complimented the dish spot on. D isn’t into white wine, but this one stuck out to him. Not too dry and not too sweet, it’s great on it’s own and with the meal.

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Second Course – Roasted pepper bisque (Purred red pepper seasoned with the finest ingredients) Paired with Costa Del Nero Pinot Nero $45.62 a bottle. Love love LOVE this bisque! I’m a texture freak when it comes to bisque. This one is smooth as can be with shallots, parsnips, red pepper and chicken stock. Oh how I wish I could take a pot of this home. The pinot paired well with the dish. I didn’t expect it which was a nice surprise. Also as a fun fact Nero is Italian for black. You don’t see this on many bottles unless it’s a true Italian wine. The darker black wine is rich and creamy with great consistency finishing it off.

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Third Course – Ciopino (Seafood stew with fresh ingredients – scallops, fish, shrimp, calamari, and clams in a saffron broth with tomato, capers and olives) paired with Mormoraia Chianti Colli Seniesi 2012 $35 a bottle. I like this chef he’s ballsy! Swordfish isn’t one of my favorites, due to everyone overcooking it. This chef cooked it perfectly with a nice crispy crust yet kept it flaky. Not to mention every piece and I mean every last one was cooked perfectly. I did find the capers a little over powering, but all and all this was another winner. The wine has red and blackberry flavors with a smoothness you wouldn’t believe. The reason why is the grape used doesn’t need to age as long which makes it generally more smoother than others.

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Fourth Course – Rack of lamb (Marinated lamb pan roasted finished with a rich demi glaze, served with creamy polenta) paired with Pruno Sangiovese Superiore Riserva 1998 $93 a bottle. Oh man oh man where do I start with this dish. The wine came first I couldn’t stop smelling it! Sounds crazy, but there are certain triggers in life that bring memories flooding back. I remembered our trip to Italy and felt like I was sitting in one of the old wine cellars again. Another sniff and I’m transported back to California on our wine tour there. I wanted to instantly book a trip and relive all the great moments we had! ok ok how was the taste. Oh wow!!! Every sip the wine transformed and took on another layer. The wine guy said if you left it in a wine glass overnight it’ll taste completely different.IApparently this particular one comes from Bolonia and not Tuscany like most. Bolonia is known more for their cattle and cheese. This wine is bottled and aged 3 years before it reaches the market. It really did change with every sip and not in a weird way, in a did you like that well you will love this way. The lamb was cooked perfectly. I’ve given up worrying at this point, I know it’ll be good and it was. The New Zeland lamb was glazed in a reduction of the wine paired with it along with veal stock, butter and raspberries. Gone are the days of the cheesy mint glaze. I only wish I had bread I would have soaked up all that glaze and not left a speck on the plate. The polenta had notes of rosemary and parmesan cheese and it was so creamy I’m glad I didn’t have to serve myself or I would have looked like a pig.

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Fifth Course – Tiramisu (light lady fingers soaked in espresso and liquor layered between mascarpone and cream) paired with Icardi Moscato D’Asti. Ok this is my favorite dessert. Fingers crossed this has to be good! O…M…G…..Yes it’s so creamy and light and just the right amount of everything! Why can’t more people get it right like this?! Normally we are not moscato fans, but this one wasn’t overly sweet and really paired well with the tiramisu. Looks like I have some more taste testing to do to expand my knowledge of moscato.

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Everyone from the wait staff to the speaker to the manager where all very well informed of all the details, including what ingredients are in the dish. I appreciate a well oiled machine especially at an event like this. The timing was spaced really nicely and all the food was hot and not sitting out. Other events I’ve attended make you want to drink more or wish for extra bread because it takes so long. This dinner just had a really great vibe and flow to it, not to mention perfectly paired food. The night really did make me feel like I was on vacation.

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Chef Elmer was fantastic and his food is spot on. The establishment is lucky to have him!

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Looking forward to attending future events here!! Be sure to get on their mailing list, it sounds like the next event will be in February.

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