An Italian Wine & Food Extravaganza
at 677 Prime, Albany, NY, 7/14/2018

Our friends Larry and Margie Kirsch invited us to this spectacular dinner with an Italian theme and Italian wines mostly from Piedmont. They took over the entire upstairs at 677 Prime and had special foods brought up from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Dinner started at 6:30 and continued till at least 10:30.

Click on any image with a border for a larger view of that image, and in some cases more image.


Jared and I met Larry at the restaurant around 1pm to decant the wines. If you are interested, you can find photos of the decanting here.

Before the sit-down portion of the meal, there was an amazing array of appetizers. These were served from various stations modeled on Eataly. The Fine Wine Geek visited the original Eataly in Turin, Italy, in 2016. There are now Eatalys in major cities all around the world.

This incredible array of tasty food was served with three liter bottles of Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne and of Larmandier Bernier Longitude Blanc de Blanc Premier Cru Champagne. I didn't get pix, so these are not the actual bottles:

Stazione di Salumi
Chef-manned salami station with red slicer and wood accents, Prosciutto San Danielle on the red slicer, Coppa, Soppresatta, Olives, Burratini, Roast Peppers, Pepperoncini, Marinated Artichokes:

Panini Cucina
Chef-manned, décor with breads, lights, heat lamp kitchen décor, stainless steel table, hanging white shelves. Porchetta, Arugula, Pickled Onion, & Balsamic on Homemade Pizza Dough Bread with Rosemary and Olive Oil. Broccoli Rabe, Garlic, Mozzarella, & Pesto, on Focaccia. Rotisserie Chicken, Pear Mostarda, Aioli and Smoked Mozzarella on Italian Bread:

Stazione di Formaggio
Décor with Scamorza, a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gorgonzola Dolce, Tallegio, Pecorino Canestrato, Mostardas, Figs and Grapes:

Stazione di Pesce
Ice bar with décor by Aimee, seafood theme, blue lights, cold on one side, hot on the other with:
Two kinds of Chilled Shrimp (Tiger Shrimp and Head-on White Shrimp) with Cocktail Sauce on a bed of ice.
Two kinds of Chilled Crab (King Crab and Colossal Lump Crab) with Remoulade on a bed of ice.
Clams Four Ways: Rockefeller, Casino with Lardo, Oreganatto, & King Crab Scampi, in iron skillets on a bed of rock salt.


The table is set:

Larry makes a short speech of welcome and a toast:

Not a great shot of Wine Director Sheila Burke (left),
a staff member, and Head Sommelier Seaborn Jones:

Seaborn had driven down to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx that morning
to get this amazing collection of bread from Madonia Brothers Bakery:

On the left is a slice of the ring bread with prosciutto.
On the right is a classic semolina bread with sesame seeds:

First Course with Gaja Chardonnay
Buffalo Milk Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes (four varieties of Tomato, two varieties of Petite Tomato, Basil Oil, Micro Basil, Basil Seeds, Vincotto, Maldon Sea Salt, Frilly Greens Garnish & EVOO served on cold plates:

Two Fresh Pasta Courses
There were two delicious fresh pasta courses modeled after two dishes at Osteria Morini, a Michael White restaurant in Manhattan.

Here are some photos taken by Head Sommelier Seaborn Jones of
Executive Chef Ken Kehn making the Truffle Ricotta Cappelletti:

First Pasta Course with 1989 Produttori Magnums
Truffle Ricotta Cappelletti with prosciutto and organic truffle butter sauce made from chicken stock reduction, white wine, and shallot beurre blanc made with grass fed butter:

Second Pasta Course with Gaja Barbaresco
Fresh Spinach Stracci with Sugo ai Funghi Freschi and Rosemary. Stracci is pasta cut into squares resembling torn rags or paper. Sugo ai Funghi Freschi is a wild mushroom sauce made with mirepoix, garlic, Nebbiolo wine, rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, black pepper. It was served with fresh-grated Pecorino Romano:

Steak Course with Gaja Costa Russi
Bistecca alla Fiorentina (40 Day Aged, Wood-Fire-Pit-Cooked 36 ounce Porterhouse with Olive Oil & Rosemary):

Joel H wonders if Andrew Plummer was in the kitchen and Joel S is amused:

The side dishes, Italian Broccoli and Cannellini Beans:

All four Gaja wines:
The Barbarescos are 100% Nebbiolo grapes from 13 vineyards that the Gajas own. Costa Russi is from a 10-acre parcel in the Roncagliette vineyard in the town of Barbaresco. The 1993 Costa Russi is labeled "Barbaresco" but the 1997 is not. This is because from 1996 until 2011, Gaja add 5% Barbera to this wine. Barbaresco must be 100% Nebbiolo by law.

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Magnum
Lisa has always liked Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, but she has never had one like this.
One of the great wines of Italy, when made by Emidio Pepe.


While we were eating dinner, the 677 team had totally transformed the room where the appetizers had been served into a Dessert Carnival. The pastries, cakes, and other desserts are from Morrone Pastry Shop & Cafe on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Nice photo of the shop here.

A Coffee and Espresso Bar:

A Pastry Station with Cannoli Stuffed to Order (Chocolate & Plain Cannoli Shells and Chocolate Chip & Plain Cannoli Fillings), Torta de la Nonna, Pistachio Ricotta Cake, Pastiera Cake, Delizia Almond Sponge Cake Roll, Sfogliatelles and other assorted pastries:

A Gelato Station built around a bicycle featuring Amarena Cherry, Pistachio, Tiramisu Gelati:

Amy with our shared dessert:


Larry introduces and praises Executive Chef Ken Kehn and Owner & General Manager Jaime Ortiz:

Margie also has some words of praise for Larry and for the 677 Prime team:

Larry shows us that the grapes hanging from the arbor are real:

Amy suggests I get a shot of Larry and Marge together.

Matt Wahhaj, the Banquet Manager, gets into the act:

Now the real photos of Larry and Marge together:

More People Photos

Here are photos that I took during the dinner and near the end of the guests sitting at the various tables around the room:

Here is the table I sat at. Unfortunately I missed Amy on the left and Lisa on the right:

The other tables:


What an amazing evening. So much great wine, great food, and great friends! The generosity of Larry and Margie was overwhelming.

I also owe a debt of gratitude to Head Sommelier Seaborn Jones for his help in getting the details correct in this report.

Tasting notes posted from CellarTracker.



All original content © Ken Vastola