Thursday, October 28, 2021

JW Marriott’s Ario Named Top 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2019

Samples of Wine/Food Pairings for the
Wine Enthusiast Award Dinner

2015 Domaine Carneros (CA) – The same flavor profile as Champagne from the Champagne region of France – both are made the same way.

Kumamoto Oysters from California | blood orange mignonette, thai chili oil.  Perfect marriage between oysters and bubbles! 

Summer in a Bottle Rose (NY) – The wine screams SUMMER, clean, crisp, fruity, tropical.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras from New York | almond crumble, minus-8 jam, summer berries – The foie gras boasts a deep cheese flavor alongside berries and jam. All tying together with the crisp and light Rose. 

Herzog Chenin Blanc (CA) – Very approachable mouth-watering wine, clean, vibrant, fruity with just the right amount of acidity. 

Tuna Crudo | fennel-citrus slaw, pickled jicama, charred tomatillo, cilantro. 

Barboursville Viognier (VA) – Smooth, smells good, so you keep tasting it- an answer to American Chardonnay with well-balanced floral notes.

Scallop | carrot-ginger puree, toasted hazelnuts, coconut gel, grapefruit. Highlighted by Sommelier Rivera and Chef Landeiro is the fact that both the wine and scallop have similar characteristics of filling your palate entirely.

K Vintners Syrah (WA) – Very approachable red wine; savory, smooth with a bit of the old world flavor made in the U.S.

Dry-Aged New York Strip | dry aged for one month, confit fingerlings, chanterelles, pickled cipollini and shaved truffles.

Lakeridge White Blend (FL) – perfect companion for any dessert; light, clean; not too sweet, not too viscous.

Summer Peach Vacherin | Lemon verbana granita, almond crumble.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently included Ario of Marco Island to the list of their Top 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2019.  Wine Enthusiast is the most recognized publication in the industry for all things relating to wine and Ario was one of only two restaurants in Florida to be recognized. Within a list of famous foodie destinations like New York, Chicago, and California was our 4×6 mile barrier island, all thanks to Ario’s hard work. 

Stepping into Ario at the JW Marriott Marco Island, you quickly realize that your dinner will be more than a dining experience. Instead, the evening is transformed into a culinary experience entwined with an award-winning wine list alongside a handcrafted and intentionally thought out menu to provoke and awaken your inner foodie. 

In celebration of the accolade, the staff at Ario decided to challenge themselves by hosting a five-course wine pairing dinner. To add to the challenge, the sommeliers structured the menu by specifically selecting the wines they would like to feature and then allowed the chefs to cultivate the menu around each wine selection. In comparison, most restaurants pair wine around the menu that the chef sets. To showcase the raw talent and creativity, if the sommeliers selected a wine that was from Virginia, then the chefs would create a meal with ingredients that were also indigenous to that area. 

According to Amanda Cox, Director of Sales and Marketing for JW, “The award came at the heels of a very bold decision made by the team to switch to a 100% domestic wine list. To win international acclaim on a 100% domestic wine list tells you about the talented team at Ario.”  

For Michael Broughton, restaurant manager for Ario and his team, the process was exciting because of the level of difficulty taking their large amount of French, Italian, and Spanish wines and finding the same flavor profiles in wines that are completely domestic. Michael highlighted that the transition could not have happened without mastermind sommeliers, Lexi Rivera and Rob Smith. One of the most impressive parts about Ario is that it boasts over 50 wines by the glass. 

Sommelier, Lexi Rivera, highlighted that Ario’s wine list stands out from the rest because it gives guests the opportunity to try grapes and wines that they may have never considered. You can hear her passion when she talks about how important it was to her that the wine by the glass list was approachable to guests that may be trepidatious to trying a wine that they would otherwise have to buy a bottle of. 

Executive chef, Carlos Landeiro and executive sous chef Melissa Sallman cultivated and executed the amazing five-course menu from PB&J inspired foie gras to dry-aged New York strip with shaved truffles. 

Carlos’s experience is cultured in the food industry. After living in Miami for 22 years he attended culinary school. He started off at the Ritz Carlton and then continued on his culinary journey training in Spain, Italy, France, and Chicago. When asked about why he has chosen Marco, chef Landeiro talks about how Marco Island is home for him. He feels relaxed on Marco which really gives him the opportunity to clear his mind and focus on the food. This is aside from the opportunity to use the dry-aging room as his playground. His latest experiment is his dry-aged ducks and his dry-aged foie gras that has been aging for eight months. 

The unique population of visitors and residents can make running a modern and innovative restaurant difficult. When asked about how he has to cater to the population in Southwest Florida, Landeiro talks about taking traditional dishes and modernizing them. For example, he can create a dish like lobster bisque that does not look traditional, however, the flavors are familiar enough to people that it allows for their horizons to be expanded within a comfortable limit. 

Photos by Jessica Simon and Sommelier, Lexi Rivera | Amanda Cox, Director of Sales and Marketing with friends, family, and coworkers.

One of my favorite stories from the night, which showcases the raw talent and creativity at Ario, was a story that Chef Landeiro told about using local salt. Chef Landeiro and Chef Sombright took to the mangroves early one morning. Armed with containers and distilled water, they went down the line of mangroves just off of Isles of Capri, dipping each individual leaf into the cup to harvest the salt. Once cleaned and safe for using, the chefs were able to serve meals in Ario designed around the local salt. 

Sharon Lockwood, JW’s General Manager is really excited about what this designation is going to bring to food and beverage in Southwest Florida. For Lockwood, it will transform Marco Island into a culinary destination where people specifically travel to the JW Marriott to experience the culinary excellence that goes into winning the award. Additionally, the accolade attracts talent looking to work in an environment held to such a high standard.

Ario at the JW Marriott Marco Island is a safe place for wild creativity, culinary innovation, and a crazy wine list that puts it on the map.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *