Francesca's Provides La Dolce Vita

La dolce vita it was at Francesca’s in Barrington.  La dolce vita means “the sweet life” in Italian, and this restaurant’s staff made for a very memorable evening as they invited me to be their guest for their “Cabernet is King” wine dinner on Tuesday.  

Never having attended a wine dinner, I walked in with a little bit of uncertainty.  That uncertainty quickly melted away as I was greeted with a smile from the lovely hostess and a glass of La Marca Prosecco – Sparkling Italian Wine.  The wine dinner took place in a private room in the back of Francesca’s.  Round tables were beautifully decorated with the whitest linens, fine china and an abundance of wine glasses.  There were roughly 40 attendees at this wine dinner.  The room had perfectly dimmed lighting with Italian music playing in the background.

Catherine Koelling, Sales Representative of Heritage Wine Cellars, Eustacio Duarte, the General Manager of Francesca's in Barrington and Kelley Joerns, Business Development Manager of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

The evening got started with great conversation as I sat down at a table with two couples from Barrington, Chris & Liz and Paul & Kim.  They have attended numerous Francesca’s wine dinners and frequently travel to Napa Valley.  Their knowledge of wine really made me feel like I had my own sommeliers at my table.

Eustacio Duarte, the General Manager of Francesca’s in Barrington, greeted all participants and introduced the two wine experts of the evening; Catherine Koelling, Sales Representative of Heritage Wine Cellars and Kelley Joerns, Business Development Manager of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Crostini with Smoked Salmon

With Francesca’s staff lined up in a row with bottles of wine on their arms, Koelling and Joerns announced the first wine of the evening out of this five course dinner.  

First Course: Crostini with Smoked Salmon, crème fraiche, arugula and apricots, paired with a 2010 Hall Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley.

Second Course: Braised Pork Cheeks Ragout over white polenta, paired with 2008 Stags Leap Hands of Time, Stags Leap AVA.

Third Course: Handmade Veal Ravioli with roasted shiitake mushrooms, veal au jus and Parmigiano Reggiano paired with 2008 Antinori Antica, Atlas Peak AVA.

Cast Iron Black Angus Rib EyeFourth Course: Cast Iron Black Angus Rib Eye with porcini flavor and roasted fall vegetables in a Cabernet reduction, which is paired with both 2007 Minor, Stagecoach Vineyard and 2008 Chappelett Signature, Oakville, Pritchard Hill.

Fifth Course: Assortment of Chocolate Truffles served with a 2008 Viader “Dare,” Napa Valley.

In between each course, Francesca’s held giveaways where participants could win gift certificates to their restaurant and bottles of wine.

This restaurant certainly knows how to provide a lovely evening with delicious food,  wonderful wine and great hospitality.  They’ll make such an impression on you, that you’ll just have to come back for more of la dolce vita at Francesca’s.

Francesca’s wine dinners cost $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity.  Visit for more information.

Photos by Janelle Rominski






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