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Jim Kern, a Stags’ Leap representative, with Victor Magalhaes, of Vittorio’s Trattoria. Courtesy photo
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Welcome back Vittorio’s to Taste of Wine

During the dark days of the pandemic, Victor Magalhaes, of Vittorio’s Restaurant in Carmel Valley, did whatever was necessary to keep his core customers happy. Generous price reduction events, pickup and delivery and nightly specials all helped while he waited for things to get better before planning his return to wine and food events.

Victor is an easy-going relaxed guy with a ready smile for all, with an Italian menu that any Italian mama would love. She might start with prosciutto di parma con melone, then move to a low-caloried Italiana insalate, smile “buono amore” over the rigatoni bolognese, then graze through a margherita pizza, all the while sipping a Frescobaldi Super Tuscan wine.

Those price reduction events are led by the cuisine and wine of Tuesday Date Nights at Vittorio’s. The combination of a choice of 4 entrées, each with its own sides, and a choice of five different bottles of wine are just $35.95 for two. This “date” is for everyone who loves great food and wine at a budget price.

A few weeks ago, Vittorio’s knew it was time to bring back his popular winery dinners and invited Stags’ Leap of Napa Valley to join Vittorio’s in the first dinner for 2021. The RSVPs came rushing in and Victor the owner had to almost immediately extend the event to the second night.

The event turned out to be a sellout both nights and cheered Victor to plan another later this month. To celebrate, Vittorio’s ordered one of the highest quality wine glasses on the market, the Riedel series of wine glasses, one for each type of wine offered.

Stags’ Leap was the perfect pick for a comeback dinner. The winery has a long history of wine quality since its beginning in 1893 when it was part post office and speak-easy. Jim Kern, the spokesperson for Stag’s Leap, spoke eloquently about the evening’s lineup of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most recognizable was the 2017 Cabernet.

Critics are raving about this heavyweight red with small amounts of Merlot to add to its luster, bright with red fruit and complementary characteristics of graphite, clove and cedar. An elegant mid-palate of balanced fruit leads to a soft graceful finish. Wine Enthusiast gave it a 92 rating ($60). Read more at and

Pelican Hill – A Place Like No Other

This lovely resort nestled in the hills of Newport Beach is a feast of Italian inspiration with California splendor.

Bungalows and villas are spacious from 847 to 1,624 square feet with all offering spectacular room décor. Pelican Hill continues to be a world-class resort with a Tom Fazio 36-hole golf course facing breathtaking ocean views.

Enhanced safety measures have closed two of the 3 restaurants, but the Coliseum Pool & Grill remains open. This is a high volume outside and inside restaurant.

Pelican Hill
A pool at the Coliseum Pool & Grill at Pelican Hill allows lots of room to stretch out, swim or relax under the sun, lounge in a private cabana, or dine on the second level with panoramic views. Courtesy photo

On a second-level view of the pool, golf course and ocean, a stunning combination of beauty and chef’s award-winning cuisine.

When you go, try the Coliseum Burger for lunch, a huge sum of eating with a superior bun to keep it all together. It paired nicely with the Belle Glos Dairyman Pinot Noir. For dinner, consider the Chilean Sea Bass with Coconut Beurre Blanc. You’re allowed one free side, so I chose the sauteed mushrooms.

The wine I selected was the ZD Pinot Noir from Carneros Napa Valley.

Reservations are highly recommended at 844-443-0020. Visit

Wine Bytes

— Hope Family Wines from Paso Robles will be featured at the next wine dinner at Vittorio’s at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs. May 27. Treana White Blend, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Austin Hope Cabernet will all be served with a menu that pairs with the wines. The cost is $75.00 per person + tax & gratuity. Reservations at 858-538-5884.

— Calling all wine and boat lovers, Triton Catamaran Luxury Yacht is hosting a Wine Cruise featuring Napa Valley wines by Stellareese Wine Co. from 3:00-5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 22. Your $70 ticket includes a two-and-a-half-hour cruise aboard the Triton Catamaran luxury yacht, two glasses of Stellareese Napa Valley wine, a Charcuterie Box with gourmet cheese and cured artisanal meat by ‘Venissimo Cheese’, and Live jazz music by San Diego’s premier jazz guitarist Alex Ciavarelli. Details at

— Cardiff’s newest coastal restaurant, Waverly Restaurant and Lounge, is hosting a DAOU Family Estate Wine Dinner with Master Winemaker/Proprietor, Daniel Daou on Wed 5/26 @6:30PM. You will not want to miss one night only five-course dinner paired with DAOU wines. Michelin Bib Gourmand Award winner, Chef Brian Redzikowski, is featuring Braised Short Ribs paired with DAOU Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon as the main course. Tickets are $165 per person. Details at

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Reach him at [email protected]