2016 Rust Belt Rising Star Sommelier Dominic Fiore of Bar Marco

2016 Rust Belt Rising Star Sommelier Dominic Fiore of Bar Marco
November 2016

When Dominic Fiore enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, he knew he wanted a career in hospitality, but he didn’t quite know where he’d end up. By the time he graduated with degrees in restaurant and food services management and hospitality administration management, he was driven to succeed in front of the house and secured a job before leaving school. In 2010, he started as a server at Le Petit Bistro outside Hyde Park, New York, and followed that up quickly with a captain’s position at Café Boulud in the New York City.
Fiore’s passion for wine grew rapidly during his two years at Café Boulud, and no doubt inspired the boss, because a job working wine inventory led Fiore to the role of assistant sommelier at Daniel. Working at Daniel for a year, Fiore was surrounded by legendary bottles and began to carve out his own tastes and interests in the cellar. The $600 lables that (reasonably) impress at Daniel were of less interest to him than niche and, increasingly, biodynamic and natural wines. 

Eager to slake his thirst closer to home, Fiore moved back to the Pittsburgh area, accepting a job as head sommelier at Altius before taking the helm at Bar Marco, where Fiore began using natural, biodynamic, or experimental wines to change shape the way his city sips juice.  


Interview with Rising Star Sommelier Dominic Fiore

D. J. Costantino: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Dominic Fiore:
I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America wanting to be a chef and realiazed that it wasn't what I wanted to do all the time. I was always good with front of the house, and I liked talking to people. I took a wine course, and the first day was like fireworks going off. It just made sense to me. After school, I worked in the cellar at Bar Boloud. While I was there, I sent Daniel Johnnes an email, just to make myself available for any jobs in the group. I got a call back for to interview for the assistant sommelier position at Daniel. I thought they had the wrong person!

DC: What sets your wines apart?
The culture of Bar Marco is such that I can be adventurous. I'm constantly looking for weird, crazy, off-the-beaten path stuff. Every wine is natural, and there is no other restaurant in Pittsburgh that is like that from top to bottom. I get the guests to step out of their comfort zone, and they've been unbelievably receptive.

DC: Who are your mentors? What are some of the things you learned from them?
My ultimate mentor is Raj Vaidya. I got to work with him side by side every day at Daniel, and he showed me how to respect wine. He is passionate, organized, and knows more about wine than anyone I've ever met. He taught me that in order to understand wine, you must know the people who make it. Also, Megan Storm of The Artisans Cellar, Jason Malumed of MFW, and David McDuff of David Buler, all in Philadelphia changed the way I think about wine. The natural wines that they sent in sample boxes was like Christmas morning every time. The passion and excitement they have about natural wines is so easily translatable.

DC: Tell me about a perfect pairing. 
My favorite advice for pairing is “if it grows together, it goes together.” At Bar Marco, we made a chestnut fettuccine, heritage pork ragu, and Castelrosso cheese that I paired with a 2013 Terri di Mate Gavi from Piemonte. The nuttiness of the wine was perfect with the chestnut pasta, and the Castelrosso with the wine's acid—it was a “wow” moment.

DC: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
My favorite producer is Frank Cornellison. His wines are rare and highly prized, unbelievably hands-off from Mount Etna in Siciily. Every time I get the opportunity, I buy a bottle for home. It just keeps me in a better mood.

DC: Which historical figure would you most like to share a bottle of wine with, and what would you pour?
DF: As a kid, one of my favorite Presidents was Thomas Jefferson, before I knew how big of a wino he was. I would have to go with a Finger Lakes Riesling to show him that American wine has made it. We'd pour at Monticello, so we can check out his cellar afterward.