“But is it a Max beer?” To the right person, this is understood to mean that Massimo (“Max”) D’Arrigo of Las Vegas’ Bevi Beverages is the beer’s source. The Italian distributor of importer B United’s European brews has a love of beer that borders on lust—and nothing pleases him more than to share it with like-minded individuals. Which he does at select bars and restaurants around the Valley, including the award-winning Italian beer selection at Fiamma and Comme Ça, weekly barrel offerings at Todd English P.U.B. and the Zymatore keg parties that once packed the Freakin’ Frog.
D’Arrigo’s most recent project has been to help Comme Ça GM Anthony Esparza add Italy to his Euro-centric Tour de Biere menu. I stopped by November 21 to sample the new goods, and was delighted by the diverse quartet, all from Birra del Borgo. On draft, Maledetta ($14) is a delightful specialty dark saison with wintery spices, replacing the more summery Saison d’Erpe-Mere; and Comme Ça joins Fiamma as the only two places in town to get ReAle Extra ($14) on draft since Sirio closed. In bottle, Perle ai Porci (“Pearls for Pigs”; $20) is a unique Italian stout, brewed with fresh oysters and clams in their shells; the aroma is savory and mineral, like a whiff of ocean air. Finally, Etrusca ($32) is an off-menu offering, a collaboration beer replicating an ancient recipe. Order one, Google it and settle in—it’s sour and complex enough that you won’t be quaffing it.
Each week, you can find D’Arrigo at Todd English P.U.B. in Crystals, promoting rare specialty kegs. Beer geeks and the beer curious will love his current lineup: December 11-13, he’s bringing Thornbridge Brewery’s Raven Black IPA; December 19-21, it’s Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale from Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery; December 25-27, try Birra del Borgo’s experimental BdBi(g)BodyIBU (pronounced like “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”!); and December 31-January 2, you’ll have to fight me for the Strada San Felice Chestnut Ale from Italy’s Birrificio Grado Plato, a personal favorite.
A little further out on D’Arrigo’s brew-to-do list is the opening of Bella Vita Italian restaurant in the District at Green Valley Ranch. A duo of D’Arrigo’s countrymen—restaurateur brothers Sergio and Stefano Montegrande—and partner Jeromy Slater are
behind the project, designed by Foundry and slated for a January opening. The sprawling corner space (3,000 square feet inside, 1,200 out) will feature a dining room for 80, open kitchen with a dual-sided bar for up to 20, a wrap-around patio for another 80, reasonable prices and “obsessively authentic Italian cuisine” by Sicilian chef Marco D’agati, who, like many of his ingredients, is being imported for the task.
Here, D’Arrigo will pair his portfolio’s draft, direct-draw cask and bottled beers with D’agati’s modern Italian cuisine—lunch, brunch, dinner and late night. “In Italy, we don’t have fettuccine Alfredo or chicken Parmesan,” Sergio says. So don’t expect those Italian-American standards, but instead fresh, refined and even largely vegetarian Italian food prepared the way Italians actually eat. Gordon Ramsay Pub’s Adam Rains will join in as lead bartender and mixologist—may I suggest including a beertail, gents?