May 27, 2009
Sipping and slices @ Hot Italian


Gotta love some sparkling wine around this time of the year, as the weather heats up and it's best to let those cabernet sauvignons go into hibernation until fall. The Italian sparking wine known as prosecco has always been a personal favorite, for either kicking off a meal or just sipping on a warm day. But not all proseccos are alike in ther food friendliness, with some versions tasting closer to carbonated pear juice than sparkling wine.

That's why I was so stoked to when I popped into Hot Italian (1627 16th St., Sacramento) last week and sampled their Ruggeri Prosecco. First off, the price was nice at just $8 a glass. But it was the taste that really struck me. This prosecco was on the dry side, but with a brightness and pronounced acidity that made it especially food friendly. Paired with a slice of Magnini (pizza topped with smoked salmon, mozzarella and mascarpone cheese), my taste buds were practically yelling, "Mangia!"

Overall, I liked the accessibility of Hot Italian's wine list. Full bottles can be had for $28-$48, or as little as $5 per glass. I tasted a few other wines, including a strawberry-ish barbera rose from Lodi's Uvaggio winery ($5), and a fairly straightforward white by Inama ($7). But one glass that really stood out was a barbera from Michele Chiarlo ($8). I've always been a fan of the light and peachy moscato d'asti by Michele Chiarlo, and their barbera was also a winner. This red wine, medium in weight and full of berry flavors, felt refreshing to the palate instead of bombarding it with ripe fruit and oak. My mouth felt primed for more pizza instead of fatigued.

Can't vouch for the rest of the food, but I did like Hot Italian's pizzas, especially the Fiori (includes tomato sauce, arugula, prosciutto parma and truffle oil). The pizzas are something like a California spin on traditional Neopolitan pizza. The thin, slightly blistered crust, plus the freshness of ingredients, was all Italian. But the portion of toppings was more generous and cheesy than usually found on traditional pizza. I'm definitely not a deep-dish sort of pizza guy, so this style suited me well. For those who like Masullo's pizzas (and yes, that would be me), but crave a little more heft with toppings, Hot Italian may be right for your palate. And seriously, don't forget that glass of the Ruggeri Prosecco.

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