In Italy, Verona’s iconic Antica Bottega del Vino restaurant and wine bar—a social haven for the thousands of people who frequent the Vinitaly wine exhibit each year—is under new ownership after a near brush with permanent closure. The troubled tavern was purchased this month by both Le Famiglie dell’Amarone d’Arte (60%) and Antica Rinomata Riseria Ferron (40%).
Restaurant habitués were shocked when news of an on-going feud between the restaurant’s previous owners, Severino Barzan and Giovanni Pascucci, forced the restaurant into liquidation this past summer. According to local media reports, the successful eatery was making between $2–3 million per year in sales and contained one of the most cherished wine cellars in Italy, valued at $1 million. The bearded Barzan, often at the bar greeting his customers, welcomed many visitors into his cellars to admire the collection of Bertani, Gaja, Ornellaia and many more. Barzan still owns the popular sister restaurant, also called Antica Bottega del Vino, on New York’s 59th Street.
Le Famiglie dell’Amarone d’Arte—a winegrowers’ association consisting of 12 of the most historic wine brands in Valpolicella, including Allegrini, Begali, Brigaldara, Masi, Musella, Nicolis, Speri, Tedeschi, Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Tommasi, Venturini and Zenato—focuses on protecting the legacy and traditions associated with one of Italy’s most noble and robust red wines, Amarone. Antica Rinomata Riseria Ferron is a rice producer that boasts five generations of family ownership and is specialized in Carnaroli and Vialone Nano Veronese rice cultivars.
Bottega del Vino’s historic roots date back to the 1500s when the tavern first opened for business. During Vinitaly, the popular tavern is packed tight with wine producers, journalists and trade. Crowds of people clinching oversized glass stemware spilled onto the tight vicolo Scudo di Francia alleyway. And according to the new owners, the eatery will reopen in two months, hoping to attract the same size crowd. It certainly will during next year’s Vinitaly event, scheduled for April 7-11, 2011.
Considering the Bottega’s signature dish—risotto flavored with Amarone—the new ownership promises a happy future for the hangout beloved by the Italian wine community.