"In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary."

--A Moveable Feast, Hemingway, Ernest

landmarc.jpgFor Gothamist, wine is as important to a meal as is silverware. Great wine with great food is one of the most satisfying and exciting experiences. Than, why is it that restaurants make it so difficult to enjoy great wine with our food? The extremely high markups make many choices unapproachable for the average diner. If restaurants want to provide the best dining experience, than why are they charging so much for one of the simplest ways to make a meal go from great to extraordinary? (oh yeah, that pesky profit margin).

Marc Murphy, owner of Landmarc in Tribeca – may be our new hero. His philosophy is that wine is an intrinsic part of the dining experience, so he has created a wine list full of half bottles and bottles that are sold at or below retail price. (We had to pinch ourselves too!).

When you first flip through the wine list it reads like a who’s who of the wine world. Vosne-Romanee – check. Gaja Barolo Sperss and Gavi La Scolca – check and check. But there were also some fun little surprises and great values that nearly knocked us from our bar stool. For example a half bottle of Hugel 2002 Riesling was only $11.

Now, wine is only half the equation (ok, maybe two-thirds, but we may be biased). Would our excitement from the wine list overshadow the food? Not a chance. For our meal we had the mussels with pesto and cherry tomatoes (small, $12) paired with the Gavi, La Scolca (half bottle, $20) – a white wine made from the cortese grape in the Piedmonte region of Italy. Once again, we were almost blown off our bar stool (we only ordered the half bottle of wine, so it wasn’t because we were drunk). The mussels were unbelievable – fresh, simple and full of flavor. The crisp mineral and floral notes of the wine cut through the richness of the mussels and made the dish shine.

The philosophy at Landmarc is infectious. You can’t help but walk out of there with a great appreciation of the magic that happens when good food and wine meet. Our hope is that this spreads throughout the city.

Landmarc, 179 West Broadway at Leonard, Tribeca, (212) 343-3883.