I love Zuni Café and could happily eat there every day of my life—if someone wouldn’t mind subsidizing me.
With the golden light that reflects off the towering white walls and the white paper tablecloths, the ambiance inside is wonderful. Furthermore, the food is consistently very good. The worst I ever have is something that doesn’t make me say “wow,” or perhaps a slightly overcooked chicken. Usually, everything is delicious. While in the past there have been some service issues, in the last couple of years I’ve had nothing but exemplary, warm service.
My only complaint has been about the wine program. For one, the wine glasses they use are clunky, thick-rimmed and stodgily shaped. The glass does no favors for any wine. If you’re going to have expensive wines on the list (which Zuni does), the stemware should be up to the task of making that wine sing. Second, the wine list was a bit stale. I believe restaurants should have loyalty to good producers, but there were precious spots on the Zuni list that were always held by the same wines, and it simply got boring. I found myself dreading the question of what I was going to drink there, or wondering if I should bring my own bottle (which I don’t like doing).
To break out of a rut, change is the answer. So I was happy to discover that Zuni contracted a new wine buyer, Thierry Lovato. I’ve known Thierry, a former wine director of Masa’s, over the years and can speak admiringly of his knowledge and passion for wine as well as for his overall affable, easy going temperament, sense of humor and general sense of ethics. Thierry has been (and still is) the personal sommelier and cellar manager to some great collectors and has thus been marinating in the greatest wines of the world.
Over dinner the other night he expressed a refreshingly vociferous passion for the great wines of the everyday (like good cru Beaujolais). He maintained, over and over, his love for simple, fresh and even rustic wines with his favorite food. (And sorry, Thierry, for this photograph—I accidentally erased the other ones I took of you that evening.)
You will not see Thierry working on the floor of Zuni as a sommelier, but you’ll hopefully sense his presence in the wine list. Now, if you would only do something about the stemware….