Not Stuffy + Surprisingly Great Wines = Romano’s Macaroni Grill Valencia! Who Knew?

“Finding an organization that has a passion for people,” began assistant manager and unadvertised wine expert Corrine Ramirez.  “People either go out for an experience or to wind down after work.”  Whatever your reason Corrine believes that employees that “do their job from the heart” will easily please the customers.

Pertinace Barolo NebbioloIt started like this: SCV Wine Enthusiasts’ Douglas Gould wanted to meet me at the local Macaroni Grill to try the new “Romano’s Annual Crush” wine menu.  I had no idea there was such a thing, nor did I expect to be amazed by it…and to be brutally honest, the last thing I expected is exactly what I got:  Savory foods through to creamy desserts paired with some amazing (mostly) Italian wines AND employees definitely doing a job from their collective hearts.

As far as the restaurant’s wine program, I learned from Corrine that the managers received weekly emails with a full page of information on various wines, similar to what you would find on a winery website, that includes information on the varietal, vineyard, aging, tasting notes and pairing selections.  This information is then posted in each restaurant, and discussed with the servers.


Now, onto “The CRUSH”

(Note #1: This half-price deal is good every day through the month of September.  After that selected half price wines are limited to Thursdays only.  Note #2: I was knee deep in discussion so it was difficult for me to take notes during the tasting.  However, all of the wines on this list I would definitely have again.  Note #3: Here is the story in photos:


Kunde “Magnolia Lane” Sauvignon Blanc – Sonoma Valley, CA

Paired with Scallops, some squirted with lemon and some without, I was met by aromas of kiwi, creamy cheeses…and the flavor of peaches in balance with the acid with the food.


Rocca Sveva Soave Classico, Garganega – Veneto, Italy

Nice, crisp acids, followed by lemongrass and pear.


Altemura “Sasseo” IGT, Primitivo – Puglia, Italy

Aromas of plum, black licorice, earth and spaghetti sauce (I swear I didn’t smell that in the restaurant!) followed by a mouthful of abundant blueberry, some bark and cigar.


Pertinace Barolo, Nebbiolo – Piedmont, Italy

Served with thin slices of Chianti spicy sausage, the fennel in the sausage “popped” when I tried it with the Barolo.  The wine had great spice, red fruit and was palate-drying.


Barbi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Sangiovese Grosso – Tuscany, Italy Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Sangiovese Grosso

A perfect Brunello di Montalcino…with blue fruits, earthiness, smoke, plums all  balanced well against the tannins.  We paired it with the Italian Bake – a dish of meatballs, a different spicy Italian sausage, rigatoni noodles and ricotta cheese.  I could have had that all day…but instead dessert beckoned.


Ruffino Moscato d’Asti – Piedmont, Italy

I liked this a lot with the Lemon Cashew Cake.  The wine had honey, mango and sugared ginger on the nose and a beautiful mouth-coating viscosity and flavors of Hawaiian sweet pineapple.  Without the dessert, the sweetness hung in the mouth like a juice piece of ripe fruit.


signed broken plateWe were taken care of, in exacting detail, by Manager Sean Wong, Asst Mgr./Somm Corrine Ramirez, server Zuri Valbuena and bartender/Goodnight L.A. Founder Stephen Chavez.  You can see what Zuri, Stephen and Corrine did at the end of our lunch, just to prove that they “do their job from their heart” right here:

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