Poggio’s Negroni Hour Offers Bittersweet Pleasures
by Anneli Rufus Happy hour just got happier at Poggio. The Sausalito trattoria has launched its new Negroni Hour — serving six different types of Negroni for just $5 each at its bar every Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. “Poggio’s Negroni Hour was inspired by owner Larry Mindel’s many trips to Italy and his favorite bar, Harry’s Bar, which makes a mean Negroni,” explains the restaurant’s managing director Amy Svendberg. Harry’s Bar is in Florence. Legend has it that the Negroni was invented at yet another Florence bar, Caffe Casoni, in 1919, when a local nobleman — Count Camillo Negroni — asked the bartender to fancy up the count’s usual Americano by replacing its seltzer water with gin. And the rest is gin-, vermouth-, and Campari-flavored history, give or take a few variations. Poggio is swinging with the variations. In creating its new Negroniesque palette, Svendberg explained, “we also wanted to pay tribute to our longtime bartender and partner, Tony Diiorio, for whom our best-selling Negroni — the ‘Tony Negroni’ — is named.” This popular offering comprises Bombay Sapphire gin, Campari and Vya red vermouth from the Madera, California-based Quady winery, birthplace of many delicious dessert wines. Other options include the Negrosky (vodka, bitter Campari, red vermouth), the Dirty Negroni (gin, bitter Campari, Cinzano Bianco, bitters), the Negroni Sbagliato (bitter Campari, red vermouth, sparkling wine, as depicted above), the Cardinale (gin, bitter Campari, white vermouth) and the Negroni Old Style (gin, bitter Campari, red vermouth, soda water). Negroni Hour patrons are also treated to complimentary schiacciata, the traditional glossy-topped Florentine flatbread. But they would be advised to save room for some of executive chef Ben Balesteri’s soulful Northern Italian cooking. Helming the restaurant’s kitchen after the departure of former chef Peter McNee earlier this year, Balesteri takes a tender approach to a vast range of dishes — from beef-tongue and tripe antipasti to stinging-nettle pizza to squid-ink pasta to shellfish-roe spaghetti to sunchoke-flanked melt-in-the-mouth halibut to silky lemon mousse… and beyond. “Negronis are a playful drink,” Svendberg said, “so we wanted to get fun and creative with it and offer six variations — preferably, though, not in one sitting!” Keep coming back to GAYOT.com for the latest San Francisco Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews, Culinary Events and San Francisco Wine Dinners. You can click on each photo to enlarge.