Category Archives: Norma

Norma “Hell’s Kitchen”

A second location of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, one of my favorite restaurants, recently opened on Ninth Avenue in the neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen, near the Theater District.  Since Michele and I live on the east side and the original Norma restaurant is in walking distance from our apartment, we tend to go there. But Salvatore Fraterrigo, known as Toto‘, who is the chef and owner, urged us to come to the new location.  Last week we went for lunch and were very happy that we did.   

IMG_5326We were meeting a friend and arrived early so we had cocktails.  Norma in Hell’s Kitchen has a full bar and is larger than the original Norma.


Michele had an Aperol Spritz, made with prosecco, Aperol, soda, and a slice of orange while I had a Campari and soda with orange.

The three of us shared an assortment of different dishes.

3A9D917F-A4B1-416F-B386-ADF512DF5C43_1_105_cCaponata con crostini – a sweet and savory combination of eggplant, celery, green olives, capers, onions, and tomato, served with seasoned bread crostini.  With our starters, we drank:


Monleale 2001 Vigneti Massa made from Barbera (Piedmont). The vineyards are at 300 meters and the soil is rich in limestone. The grapes are harvested in the last week of September. Maceration is for 10 days followed by fermentation with indigenous yeasts.  It is bottled without filtration. The wine has hints of cherry, balsamic notes and a touch of chocolate.  It was beginning to show its age.

D80A9C44-1D6D-4E85-8390-08E55236E08D_1_105_cArancine Ragu – saffron rice ball with Bolognese meat sauce filling with green peas, served over tomato sauce.

C0C519DE-D8A7-4500-A135-1D39AE5E53BB_1_105_cFritto Misto di Mare —  made with shrimp, calamari and zucchini perfectly fried in a light coating is only available at the Hell’s Kitchen location.

E070F576-2FF3-45B5-AD82-3FC1BF8BB8B0_1_105_cSeafood Couscous — This is a specialty of Chef Toto’.  He imports a special type of semolina flour, from which he makes his own couscous by hand.  The seafood, including shrimp, calamari, fish and mussels, cooks in a rich broth flavored with a hint of sweet spices.  This is a fantastic dish perfect for anyone who enjoys seafood and we scooped up every last bit.  It is new on the menu at the Hell’s Kitchen location.


Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 DOCGRancia” Berardenga-Fèlsina made from 100% Sangiovese from Vigneto Rancia located in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga northwest of Siena and in the southern part of the Chianti Classico zone. The vineyard is at 400 meters with a southern exposure and is 2.4 acres. The training system is simple guyot. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed and then fermented at 28-30 degrees C with automatic daily punch downs followed by 12-15 days maceration. At the end of fermentation the wine goes into small and medium oak barrels in March-April for 12 to 18 months. The lots are blended and bottled with 6 -10 months aging before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, plum, and spice with a note of licorice and a touch of violet. This wine was showing no signs of age.

CEFE7D77-CE3D-4B30-8E09-3903B5F71114_1_105_cWe also shared the Cabbucci Porchetta — a round of flatbread filled with roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, and spicy mayo.  There are cabbucci with several different kinds of filling on the menu at both Norma’s.

The desserts, which all seemed excellent, will have to wait for our next visit.

For after lunch or dinner there is Amari, Grappa and Liquori

Norma Hell’s Kitchen

801 9th ave.

NY, NY 10019




Filed under Barbara, Chianti Classico, Felsina. Berardenga, Norma

Lunch with Tom and Tom

Tom Hyland, a friend and Chicago-based wine writer, was in NYC on business and we made a plan to meet for lunch. The last time I saw Tom was on a press trip to Campania a few years ago.  Since Tom had an afternoon flight back to Chicago, I picked Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, which by chance is close to the Queens Midtown Tunnel and on the way to the airport.  I also I invited Tom Maresca, a wine writer and mutual friend, to join us. IMG_5266

Tom Maresca and Tom Hyland finishing lunch. We had a great time talking about wine, food and the trips we were on together in Italy.

For starters, we shared Carpaccio di Polipo, octopus with fennel, orange and olives, Involtini alla Siciliana, thin sliced roast pork rolled around mozzarella and cured meats,  and Caponata, sweet and sour eggplant with olives, celery and almonds served with crostini.

IMG_5258Aurora Bianco 2019 Etna Bianco Superiore I Vigneti di Salvo Foti. Made from 90% Carricante and 10% Minella. The soil is volcanic and sandy. The vines were planted in 2010 and 2015 and the exposure is east. Wine clusters are directly pressed and left to settle for 30 hours. Natural fermentation takes between 15 to 20 days and the wine remains on the lees for one year. There is a light filtration at bottling. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, peach and a touch of flint. It will be even better with a little age.  Aurora means dawn in Italian but it is also the name of a butterfly on Etna that is in danger of extinction.

IMG_5260After the starters, we shared two pizzas.  The first was a Pizza Margherita tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.  The pizzas at Norma are light and airy.

IMG_5263Passum Barbera d’Asti Superiore Current profile for the2016 made from 100% Barbera which comes from long established vineyards. The grapes are hand picked in the middle of October and rushed to the winery for semi-drying in special air conditioned, well-ventilated rooms. The duration of the drying depends on the vintage and varies from year to year. The oenologist frequently inspects the condition of the bunches and the sugar content of the grapes. The stalkless grapes are pressed and fermented in contact with the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The addition of selected yeasts along with frequent remontages causes regular alcoholic fermentation over the course of 15 to 18 days. The wine is then racked and kept in ideal conditions for the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French oak barriques (I do not think the 1985 was aged in barriques) and medium sized conventional vats for about a year and another 6 months or more in bottle before release.

The 1985 is a complex full-bodied wine with hints of dried plum, red fruit jam a very nice after taste and a very long finish. I was happy to see it has aged so well.

IMG_5261 2Our second pizza was a Pizza Mortadella topped with mozzarella, pistachio pesto, mortadella and stracciatella.  An unusual combination, but one I enjoyed.

What a pleasure to get together with two old friends and enjoy a good lunch and wines once more.  It’s something I plan to do often in the coming months.


Filed under Aurora, Cascina Castlet, Norma

A Perfect Sicilian Lunch in NYC

Michele and I have a friend who loves everything Italian.  He studies the Italian language and has travelled to Italy many times, often with Michele and I. He loves real Italian food. Even though he lives in Montclair, NJ he will come to NYC for the food at Norma Gastronomia Siciliana. The food at this charming trattoria is prepared by chef/owner Salvatore Fraterrigo and is as authentically Sicilian as we have found anywhere outside of Sicily.

Our friend knows I like old Dolcetto and brought a 2007 to our recent lunch at Norma.

We started with the caponata, eggplant, onions, olives and capers in a sweet and sour tomato sauce.

Instead of bread I always order it with focaccia.  The crisp and chewy flatbread comes hot straight from the oven and it is a delicious combination with the caponata.

Dolcetto d’Alba 1985 Bruno Giacosa made from 100% Dolcetto. This wine was still drinking but was showing its age. The 1971, which I had on two different occasions, was fantastic.  1971 and 1985 were both very good years, so it was a problem of storage. As someone once said, “We do not drink great wines but great bottles.” Alcohol 12%

Then we had eggplant alla Parmigiana.  The chef’s version is made without breadcrumbs, making it lighter than most, and molded into a timballo.

We also ordered the meatballs, but we ate them before I could take a picture

The caponata and eggplant Piarmigiana were so good, that they made us crave more eggplant.  We all ordered the Pasta alla Norma, pasta tubes in a lightly spicy tomato sauce with fried eggplant cubes, topped with shredded ricotta salata and fresh basil.  We all agreed it was the best pasta we have had  in  a restaurant outside  of  Italy  in  a long  time.

Dolcetto di Dogliani “Briccolero” 2007 DOC Chionetti made from 100% Dolcetto. The soil is of a medium mix, calcareous, the training system is guyot and the exposure is southeast. Fermentation: soft-pressing, maceration with the skins for 15 days. Maturation: 85-90% in steel tanks for about 11 months and 10 to 15% for 11 months in 30HL oak casks. Chionetti is a great producer but the wine was not showing well. We had it decanted but it did not help. Our friend said he had the 2008 the night before and everyone said how good it was drinking.  Again, another case of  bottle variation.

It is interesting to note that the alcohol on the 1985 was 12% and on the 2007 14%.  Is this caused by global warming?

For dessert there were freshly made mini cannoli  garnished  with  pistachios.

and Almond Semifreddo with warm Chocolate Sauce

We ended with perfect espresso coffees – a fitting end to a perfect lunch.

Norma Gastronomia Siciliana– 438  3rd Avenue NY, NY- 212-889-0600






Filed under Dolcetto, Norma, Uncategorized

Norma: Sicilian Food at its Best

Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan is a restaurant that I frequent because of the great food and warm atmosphere.

I have probably tried everything on the menu and friends often ask me to recommend my favorite dishes.  These are some, though not all, of the foods that I often enjoy.

Caponata con crostini e mandorle–Eggplant, celery, green olives, onions, tomato, sweet and savory seasoning, toasted almonds served with crostini.

I like to have the Caponata with the focaccia, hot from the pizza oven.

Panelle– Fried chickpea fritters with garlic and parsley aglio olio sauce.Arancini al Ragu –Saffron rice ball stuffed with Bolognese meat sauce, green peas and served over tomato sauce.

Rianata pizza — Sicilian style with garlic, tomatoes, herbs and anchovies.

Cabucci Porchetta — hot flatbread sandwich with roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, and herbs.

Timballo di melanzane alla parmigiana- Eggplant parmigiana timbale with mozzarella & parmigiana cheese, basil and tomato sauce.

Pasta Alla Norma — Imported durum paccheri from Gragnano, large tubular pasta with a sauce of fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil and ricotta salata cheese.

Anelletti Alla Palermitana in Casseruola – Tiny ring shaped baked pasta baked in a casserole with beef & pork ragu, green peas, Italian ham, eggplant, primo sale and ricotta salata cheeses, and basil


Cannoli – House made cannoli filled with sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.

Almond Semifreddo with Chocolate  Sauce

Cassata — Sicilian cheesecake

The Wine

Champagne Egly Ouriet   1990 made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay from 100% Grand Cru Ambonnay from 50 plus year old vines. Vinification in barrels 25% new. Aged for 8 years on the lees.

Champagne Henriot “Millésime 1988 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2003 DOC made from 100% Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo Edoardo Valentini  very complex and full with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, melon, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe. The wine was not showing any sings of age.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2014 DOC made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Edoardo Valentini aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 12 months. With very nice fruit aromas and flavors, a note of strawberry and for a rose’, a great finish and aftertaste. There was some wine left in the bottle and I had it 3 days later.  The wine was still in perfect condition.

Prephylloxera Etna Rosso 2006 DOC Township of Randazzo from the Don Peppino Vineyard. Made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Right in front and to the right of the cellar in the Calderara Sottana vineyard are two parcels in the midst of the larger vineyards that have survived phylloxera. They are over 130 years old and stand on their own rootstock. Exposure is northern and the soil is black volcanic pumice with some ash. There is spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18 months.








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Filed under Cerasuolo, Champagne, Henriot, Norma, Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosso, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Uncategorized, Valentini

Tasting Sicily and Firriato Wine at Norma Gastronomia

I have a long history with the wines of Firriato from Siciily, and Salvatore Fraterrigo, chef/owner of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana. I first tasted Firriato wines when I was the wine director for I Trulli restaurant in NYC, and shortly after, Salvatore became the restaurant’s chef.

When Michele and I went to Sicily, we visited the Firriato estate near Trapani. We were treated to a typical Sicilian lunch paired with their wines and learned to appreciate them even more.

Salvatore with a cuscus bowl

Both Salvatore, known as Toto, and I are Sicilian and we became friends. He would come to our apartment to cook and we traveled in Sicily with him. Salvatore once had owned a restaurant in Trapani and he told me that he had the Firriato wines on his wine list. He even knew the owners of the winery Salvatore and Vinzia Di Gaetano.

When Daniela Pugliesi asked me to host a lunch for journalists with the wines of Firriato I suggested we hold it a Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, Salvatore’s restaurant. I knew we would have Sicilian food like we had in Sicily.


The speaker for the event was Federico Lombardo di Monte, the COO of the winery. He said that Firriato is a family run business. The president is Salvatore Di Gaetano and the CEO is Vinzia Novara Di Gaetano. Irene Di Gaetano Lombardo di Monte Iato is the Chairman.

Federico said that Firriato is comprised of 6 estates, four of which are near Trapani: Baglio Soria, Borgo Guanini — the largest with over 140 hectares of vineyards, Pianoro Cuddia and the Dagala Borromeo. On the east coast near Mount Etna is the Cavanera estate that has 11 hectares of vines. The Calamoni estate is on the island of Favignana, one of the Egadi Islands off the coast of Trapani.

Glasses of Gaudensius NV Blanc des Noirs Metodo Classico Brut Etna DOC greeted the guests as they entered the restaurant. It is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese from the Northeastern slopes of Mt. Etna at 650 meters. The soil is sandy with good drainage. There are 3,500 plants per hectare and they are cordon Royat trained. Harvest is by hand the last week of September.There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The second fermentation (Classic Method) is in the bottle. The juice is in contact with the yeast for 32 months with frequent “Coup de poignet” to enhance the complexity of the bouquet and taste. Sugar is 8g/l on average. This is an elegant and complex spumante with hints of berries, brioche and currants with a long finish and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

One of the journalists, Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies praised this wine so much he was given a bottle to take home.

The Firriato wines that I will discuss in this post are those that I did not write about in a previous post. For more information see:

Le Sabbie dell’ Etna Bianco DOC 2016 made from Carricanti and Catarrato. 

This wine was an accompaniment to Arancina Al Nero Di Seppia – Deep-fried squid ink risotto rice balls filled with spicy shrimp ragu. These were moist and flavorful inside with a crusty brown breadcrumb coating.

Altavilla DOC Sicilia 2016 made from 100% Grillo from the Trapani countryside at the Borgo Guarini estate. The soil is of medium mixture mostly clay. The exposure is westerly and at 250 meters. The vines are cordon trained and spur pruned/guyot and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation lasts for 15 to 18 days at a controlled temperature. The grapes are soft pressed and remain on the lees for 3 months with daily shaking. The wine remains in the bottle for two months before release. The wine has hints of tangerine, grapefruit, melon and sage and a touch of almond.

Crocchette di Baccala Con Salsa Ali-Oli — Salt cod coquettes in sesame crust were served with aioli sauce. The cod filling was creamy and delicate and the sesame seeds made a crisp coating, perfect for dunking in the aioli.

Jasmin IGT Terre Sicilane 2016 made from 100% Zibibbo from the Trapani countryside at the Borgo Guarini Estate. The soil is mid-mixed, mostly clay. The exposure is west at 300 meters and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The vines are cordon trained, spur pruned/guyot. Harvest is by hand the last week of August.Fermentation lasts for 20 days at a controlled temperature. The grapes are soft pressed and then spend 3 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks with daily shaking. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 months before release. This is a highly aromatic and dry wine with hints of citrus, both yellow and red fruit, jasmine and a touch white flowers.

Federico pointed out that zibbibo usually is grown in Pantelleria and used to make sweet wines. This version is dry and the grapes were grown in Trapani. This is the first time I had a dry version and was very impressed by it.

Cus-Cus Trapanese Ai Frutti Di Mare – Salvatore makes the cus cus grains from scratch from semolina that he brings in from Sicily. It is a painstaking process and the results are quite different from the quick cooking variety you find elsewhere. He cooked the cus cus in a delicious sea food broth that contained clams, squid, mussels and several types of fish in a lightly spiced broth.

Le Sabbie dell’ Etna Rosso DOD 2015 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio

Caponata Palermitana Con Panelle, Caprino E Mandorle – Salvatore’s sweet and sour eggplant stew is cooked “Palermo style” and served with chick pea fritters, goat cheese, and toasted almonds.

Chiaramonte Terre Siciliane 2015 IGT 100% Nerod’Avola

Pizza “Rianata” This spicy pizza is a specialty of Sicily for lovers the flavors of garlic, anchovies, cherry tomatoes, and oregano.

Santagostino Rosso, “Baglio Soria” Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 made from Nero d’Avola and Syrah

Pasta Alla “Norma”– Salvatore uses imported durum paccheri, a large tubular pasta, and sauces it with fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil, ricotta salata cheese.

Ribeca DOC Sicily 2013 made from 100% Perricone

Anelletti Alla Palermitana in Casseruola – Tiny ring shaped baked pasta are baked in a casserole with beef & pork ragu, green peas, Italian ham, eggplant, primo sale and ricotta salata cheeses, and basil.

Harmonium Sicily DOC 2013 100% Nero d’Avola

Involitini Di Arista Alla Siciliana – Pork loin slices stuffed with a mixture of cured meat, smoked mozzarella and roasted tomato and roasted.

“L’Ecrù” Passito IGT Sicily 2008 made from Moscato and a small amount of Malmsey.

Cannoli – House made cannoli are filled with sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.

I was very pleased by the food and wine combinations chosen by Salvatore and Federico. The pairings were perfect and it was like eating and drinking in Sicily.


Filed under Firriato, Norma, Sicily, Uncategorized