Paolo Barbieri, Alex

Ask this 50-year-old native of Rome what makes a sommelier great, and he’ll tell you it’s all about trust. “It’s important to establish a relationship with the customer right off the bat,” he says. “That way I can ensure that they will have a great food and wine experience.” Barbieri’s table-side manner is relaxing, never intimidating and always informative. The man is a fount of knowledge, and he always tries to find wines at price points with which his customers are comfortable. Alex recently won a Grand Award from Wine Spectator for its 2000 label wine list that he compiled with Wynn wine director Danielle Price. Barbieri is also a winemaker in Santa Barbara County who recently bottled his Barbieri Vineyards 2009 Syrah.

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Diner’s Notebook took a big bite out of the Apple recently, with visits to a pair of New York restaurants slated to open in the Cosmopolitan this December. Here’s a sneak preview of what to expect. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill, on 58th Street in Manhattan, was started by two brothers, Bruce and Eric Bromberg. As another Jewish boy who loves Japanese food, I can see why their eclectic menu has been such a runaway success. Every table was full, and the buzz was electric.



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