I’ve heard about Mama Gustos a couple of times…I know that Frank Cusimano sometimes does a sports radio show from there and I have a friend that works there. Since it’s quite a trek from where I live, I had to wait for a really good excuse to go…a wine dinner!
The five-course wine dinner was hosted by A. Bommarito Wines and guest Chef was Algusto Carfagno, the owner and operator of Original Mama Gustos in Lebanon, IL.
The attendees seemed to be Mama Gustos regulars and various other south-siders. I quickly made friends with another couple who lived pretty close by. While the dinner was quite filling, definitely the highlight of the dinner was discussing their travels to Italy, as they got married there and have been back a second time.
I could tell right away that the husband knew something about wine because he immediately complained that the first white wine, a Lagaria Chardonnay 2011 from Venezia, Italy, was too chilly and he couldn’t get a full nose of it. And instead of swirling the wine, he put his hand over the short wine glasses and shook them up and down. It turns out he used to be in the wine business so I started to ask him a lot of questions. The wine had a lot of oak on it so it was well paired with a heavier Pancetta Stuffed Mushroom.
By the time we got to the second wine, the Pieropan Soave 2010 from Veneto, Italy, he mentioned that he was friends with the owner of Iron Barley! I know how popular that place is among my friend so I started to ask him questions about the restaurant. It turns out the chef there likes to try new things from getting bored. All the cuts are butchered on site (fresh!) and soon he began to try things like putting a turduckin inside of a pig and gave it a French name to make it sound fancy. Hehe Lately, he has started making his own sausage and good news, the funky couch in the basement is long gone and has now been replaced by tables and chairs, but the patio sounds like the place to be as there are heaters out there too.
This white wine was a little lighter than the one before, but a sharper acidic finish, so as to match the Stewed Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella with basil and balsamic olive oil glaze. By the time we hit the bolder red wines, such as the Coltibouno “Cereamura” Chianti 2010, Tuscany, Italy, we started to talk about their travels. I asked them to compare the north regions versus the south and which part was their favorite (Tuscany). They explained to me that it was considered rude to interrupt their “lunch time” during the middle of the day when they went home to their families, so they would use that time to travel to the next small town on their tour. The couple also said they were treated much better by the locals since they attempted to speak the language and didn’t dress like typical Americans in t-shirts and baseball hats. The Chianti was paired with a vegetable minestrone and both had a bit of spice to it.
The biggest course paired a large Chicken Capicola with lemon garlic cream sauce and a parmesan herb risotto to a Paitin “Campolive” Barbera D’Albo 2009 from Piedmont, Italy. The couple was smarter than I was and left some of the chicken behind. Unfortunately, there was ham in the middle of it and it took me awhile to fish them out. At first, my dish came out without the sauce and the husband was kind enough to request that one with sauce be brought out since he figured that is where a lot of the flavor was.
For the last wine, a Saracco Moscato d’Asti 2011, also from Piedmont, Italy, the husband could barely sip because it was so sweet. He claimed that these wines were made for the ladies…so they’re clothes would fall off more easily. hehe A sweet dessert wine was definitely necessary to stand up to the sugary topped Tiramisu Lemoncello Cupcake. I finally got smart and took half of that home. Even though I was full, I definitely was wanting to go back to Mama Gustos to try their pasta and pizza if their “special” Italian dinner was this tasty and filling.
Mama Gustos = http://mamagustos.com/
Photos by Jen Norman (http://www.facebook.com/jennifernormanmusic)
Michelle A. Marcus' blog: http://www.stlcheesegirl.com/2012/10/mama-gustos-wine-dinner.html