Cat and Barbara’s collaboration and friendship began over 20 years ago, appropriately with a focus on cooking and drinking Italian, first at Rocco and then at Galleria Italiana. Several trips to Italy while Barbara was in her mid-twenties had a profound effect on her; everything she learned about this country’s culture and soul found its way into her cooking. Cat, already favoring the old world wines of France and Italy, sought out wines from small growers that would reflect the authenticity and heart in Barbara’s cooking. Just as Barbara’s first travels through Northern Italy and Tuscany informed and inspired her cooking, for Cat, her early years in the business were spent traveling to Italy as often as possible. Incredibly small apartments with incredibly small rents were chosen to enable frequent trips to Italy- it is a point of pride for Cat that she has visited every single region of the country’s 19 distinct provinces! Her first wine loves were Chianti, Barbera, Tocai Friulano, and Moscato; these regions, their flavors, and their traditions were experienced and permanently etched into her mind and her palate.
For Cat and Barbara, Sportello is a happy return to something so simply, beautifully Italian. Cat has created a wine list that captures the casual, fun spirit of Sportello – a true neighborhood spot where people can happily (and easily) eat and drink well. To accomplish this, she searched for interesting and delicious wines from her favorite regions of Italy that would pair well with the polenta, scacciata, and other dishes on Barbara’s menu. The result is a collection that represents the diverse regions of Italy, from the light bodied, aromatic wines of the North, to the sunny, full-bodied wines of the South, and the earthy, rustic, medium-bodied wines of Central Italy, all supremely drinkable and food friendly.