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We Ask Gabriella Borg Costanzi About Her Wine Program at Le Crocodile

With 15 years of industry experience, Gabriella Borg Costanzi’s journey started with a serving job at 15. At 19, she moved to London and subsequently became a General Manager at 22.

From diverse new openings to in-house offerings, her stint with a large company was invaluable. After discovering a passion for wine in a small plate, Spanish & Italian-inspired restaurant, Gabriella briefly explored consulting and ventures outside the industry before returning to join the opening team at Flor, the second restaurant of the Lyle’s team. Moving onto Assistant General Manager at Lyle’s, she pursued a WSET diploma and reshaped the Wine program.

Amidst the challenges of starting at Lyle’s in 2020, during the pandemic, Gabriella emphasized the industry’s need for sustainability, especially focusing on mental and physical well-being. Her commitment deepened through engagement with Kelly’s Cause. A surprising job offer prompted her move to DC, where she assumed the role of GM and Wine Director at the two-Michelin-starred Pineapple & Pearls, followed by a move a year later to the Wythe.

Gabriella started at Le Crocodile in April 2023. Located in Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel, Le Crocodile is an all-day neighborhood brasserie from Chef Partners Jake Leiber and Aidan O’Neal (of beloved Greenpoint restaurant Chez Ma Tante), serving earnest French fare in a setting inspired by their Parisian and New York favorites. As Service & Wine Director, Gabriella explains that the focus is on generosity with their time, patience, and knowledge.

“With regard to wine, it’s the same: winemakers we want to showcase and wines we’re proud to pour without any inaccessible wall between the person serving the wine and the person drinking it.”

The inspiration for the beverage program at Le Crocodile is simple; very little added, very little taken away. Le Crocodile offers food and wine pairings through private dining and their Club du Vin dinners. For Gabriella, it’s all about the feeling she gets about the food and wine. “How concentrated is the flavor of the food? How concentrated is the wine? How ripe, plush, dense, lean does this feel? Does the intensity of the food match the intensity of the wine? What is the feeling you have when you’re eating and drinking it? What is the dream wine for this dish?”

Guests can expect generosity, fun, warmth, and the freedom to indulge when visiting. Le Crocodile strives for tight standards so that their personalities can shine through. Gabriella knows that many people find wine intimidating. “Wine can be expensive, especially if it’s not somewhere you usually put your money, so, the sommelier should really be finding out what it is you like to drink, what experience you want and what would make dinner special. And often, that isn’t the case.

The feedback that so many guests feel uncomfortable in restaurants where wine plays a big role, that they end up just saying ‘yes’ to something because they feel awkward trying to talk more when they don’t have the lingo, or they say ‘no’ to all natural/organic/biodegradable wine because that one bottle they had was faulty and someone told them that was ‘terroir,’ I mean what, an inhospitable experience that is.” Their servers and sommeliers are proud of what they are serving and want people to enjoy themselves. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel – we’re a brasserie and whatever we do we want to do it well, and consistently.”

The post We Ask Gabriella Borg Costanzi About Her Wine Program at Le Crocodile appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

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