Four years ago, when Anthony Carcaterra took over his parents’ pizzeria-restaurant, Papa Joe’s in Deer Park, he had a lot of expectations to deal with. At his renamed and reimagined Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante, a Newsday Top 100 pick, longtime clientele had retained a taste for something that Carcaterra didn’t anticipate: “When people came in and sat down, and I’d ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ They’d say, ‘Oh, you don’t have white zin on the menu’ or, ‘You don’t have linens on the table.’ ”
Table linens were easy enough to fix. For resolute wine drinkers, however, the words white zinfandel can be almost wince-inducing. The cheap, sweet pink rosé popularized by Sutter Home in the 1970s has sometimes been seen as emblematic, unfairly or not, of sugar-addicted American palates.
Carcaterra was committed to giving his customers what they wanted, but did so by the road less traveled. “I felt like I could really come up with something that was not Woodbridge White Zinfandel, and do something a bit different.”
Verde began making its own version of the wine, blending glugs of Wölffer Estate rosé with Foris Moscato from Oregon, and — when wine grapes are in season — muddling some fresh grapes into the mix. The result: a medium-sweet, refreshing and suitably pink wine that mimics white zin without treading the same cloying territory.
The white zin is always on the menu at Verde now, available by the glass and as ready to wash down a plate of eggplant Parm as some rabbit kidneys tumbled with toasted ciabatta and minced root vegetables, one of the dishes from Verde’s “Offals & Etc.” menu.
“I never get complaints anymore, as the restaurant has grown into itself,” Carcaterra said. “We know what our guests like, and we want to make sure that the menu reflects that.”
Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante, 450 Commack Rd., Deer Park, 631-242-8902, eatdrinkverde.com