Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Il Casaro Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar, Soba Ichi

26 min

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 19 airs Thursday, August 6 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

First, let’s take a stroll through North Beach for Neapolitan pizza at Il Casaro Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar, which translates to “cheese maker” in Italian. Then, we may have died and gone to noodle heaven at Soba Ichi, where handcrafted soba noodles are made onsite with traditional practices.

Shows the guests on this week's episode of Check, Please! Bay Area
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 15 episode 19. (Olivia Won/KQED)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

My name is Leslie Sbrocco, and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I’ll share my tasting notes about the wine, beer and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.

Conte Collalto Brut ‘San Salvatore’ Millesimato Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
Italy, $11
What a fantastic deal! If you are a Prosecco fan (and let’s face it…who isn’t?) this is a sparkler you’ll want to purchase by the case. Light, refreshing and crafted in a dry style, it hails from the steep, hilly region of northeastern Italy called Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Anchored by two towns of the same names, it’s an historic wine area blanketed with vineyards planted primarily to Glera grape vines. This version from Collalto is named for an historic castle – San Salvatore -- located on the highest part of the vineyard. When you see the words “Prosecco Superiore” is signifies quality and affordability rolled into one bottle.

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2018 The Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California, $22
Attention lovers of pink wine…this is one you’ll want to seek OUT and sip IN. I adore the Grenache-based wines of The Larsen Projekt, which is a boutique Sonoma producer. This garnet-hued rosé is succulent and crisp with enough freshness and complexity to pair poolside and tableside. The wine’s label depicts a time the owners went to an outdoor café in Provence, France, and saw buckets of rosé sitting in a nearby the fountain ready to pour for thirsty diners. Hmm…I think I need one of those fountains in my backyard.

2017 Trinity Hill ‘Gimblett Gravels’ Chardonnay
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, $40
New Zealand is known for Sauvignon Blanc, but for those who delve into the small country’s great wines know it’s also a place for world-class reds and Chardonnay. Hawkes Bay is on the north island (two islands comprise the country) and is a spot that makes famed Bordeaux blends and Syrah. It’s also home to this full-bodied Chardonnay from one of New Zealand’s star producers, Trinity Hill. The vines come from a uniquely stony area called the Gimblett Gravels. This imparts taut minerality to the wine, which is wrapped with ripe fruit flavors, exotic aromas and a lush texture. I call it finely focused yet fleshy – the best of both Chardonnay worlds.

2017 Scattered Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California $40
An impressive Napa Cabernet at an impressively affordable price. Winemaker Joel Aiken is a California icon formerly of legendary Cab house, Beaulieu Vineyard, whose deft touch help create stylish classics. He and owner, Derek Benham, have sourced fruit from top Napa Valley areas to blend into this beautifully designed wine. It’s structured and plush with dark fruit intensity and supple tannins. Built to be cellar worthy and age for a decade or more, it’s also delicious to drink now alongside a simple grilled steak. Perfection.

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Small Batch Rye
Ireland, $35
Whiskey fans, take note. Versions from Ireland are undergoing a renaissance and this spirit brings to life the motto “what’s old is new again.” The Kilbeggan Distillery began producing whiskey in 1757 then changed hands and closed for a time but is now back and stronger than ever under the ownership of Suntory. Their Rye is crafted with a centuries-old recipe that uses 30 percent of the spicy grain in the mash bill. Though that’s less than in typical American versions, it still sports rye’s telltale toe-curling spiciness coupled with hint of ginger and orange zest wrapped in a silky texture. It falls on the lighter, elegant side of the whiskey scale as opposed to the rich, sweet styles of Bourbon whiskeys. Take a trip to the Emerald Isle in a glass.

Shows the wines Leslie Sbrocco recommends
Wine and spirits guests drank on the set of season 15 episode 19. (Olivia Won/KQED)

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.