Hey. Let’s go to Italy and drink a lot of wine, and then come home and open a wine shop. Maybe substitute the wine for pizza, but this is probably every twenty-something, (or thirty or forty-something) American’s fantasy. But for longtime friends Dave and Maureen Rubino, Nick Zappia, and Liz Vilardi, this fantasy became a reality. Returning from a group trip to Venice, the four opened Central Bottle in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Vilardi, also co-owner and wine director at Belly Wine Bar and the blue room in Kendall Square, says that part of the inspiration for the store comes from a small shop that the four found during their time in Italy. “It was this perfect, intimate, neighborhood wine store. You could have a sip of wine and a little cheese and just hang out. We loved it and wanted to bring some of that back to the U.S.”
It was also crucial to the four partners that the store be clean and sleek, complete with Venetian red pillars and a floor-to-ceiling glass wall facing Massachusetts Avenue. Vilardi explains: “I think a lot of wine stores like to have clutter, like cardboard boxes and stuff lying around everywhere, because they think it’s very celler-ish. But we wanted to keep the store beautiful, easy to move through, and simple.”
Central Bottle’s wine selections mirror the store’s mission to reign in “small production, handcrafted, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines from all over the world.” bottles in the shop include a Frank Cornelisson Contadino No. 9 (murky and natural), a Vietti (“elegant…eloquent…remarkable”), and a Sybille Kuntz Riesling that Vilardi recommends.
“I want people to come in here and feel free to share their tastes: what they like and what they don’t like. I wish people knew that, when they buy wine, they aren’t being judged as much as they think they are. We want to talk with you and help you find the wines that you’ll really love, regardless of price,” Vilardi tells us.
As if the carefully selected 450 wines aren’t enough, the shop also sells 85 different cheeses – washed rind, blue, Italian, and several handcrafted cheeses from the Northeast. Vilardi also hopes to offer a four-part wine education series starting in February.
Wine, cheese, and salumi? All we have to say, Central Bottle, is grazie.