It’s Easter weekend, a weekend where we celebrate the arrival of spring, family and religion. And during that quality family time, there is bound to be some wine shared among adults.
So whether you hit Easter dinner or go out on Friday or Saturday because you will be cooking Sunday, here are five places to grab a great glass — or bottle — of wine around Atlantic County and Ocean City.
Those in the know are well aware of Angeloni’s stellar wine list, which is loaded with some familiar California names and Italian classics, including some amazing Amarones and Barolos that helped Angeloni’s win the Wine Spectator Award numerous times, including nine years straight at one point. What started as a business necessity for owner Alan Angeloni became his obsession, and that passion is what makes his wine list stand out. With fair prices and more than 150 bottles on the list, Angeloni’s wine list is worth diving into. The house red suffices, but dig deeper for some treasures. Angeloni’s is located at 2400 Arctic Ave., Atlantic City. Go to Angelonis.com.
Council Oak Steaks & Seafood
Walk into Council Oak at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and it’s impossible not to think of wine. Glass cases greet you at the entrance and envelop you inside the restaurant, as well. GM Andrew Skilton has done an amazing job diversifying and raising the bar for the restaurant’s wine list, especially since it became the casino’s steakhouse — along with seafood house — after Robert’s Steakhouse closed. How good is the list? It won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the first time in 2020 thanks to its 225-plus inventory of different varietals. Council Oak offers about 20 wines by the glass including four sparklings or champagnes including Paul Goerg Reserve ($18 glass, $79 bottle), six whites and rose styles perfect for seafood like the 2018 Dr. Loosen Blue State Riesling ($15, $58), five relatively big reds for those dry-aged steaks including the 2017 The Federalist cab, and even four dessert wines. The bottle list is equally amazing: 2013 Cakebread Reserve chardonnay, Italy’s 2016 Gaja Alteni di Brassica sauvignon blanc, or how about a 2016 Caymus “Special Selection” cab for $490! It’s a crazy selection. Council Oak is located inside the Hard Rock Atlantic City. Go to HardRockHotel AtlanticCity.com.
Dock’s Oyster House
This legendary restaurant, which opened in 1897, can not only be proud of being a dining destination for 124 years, but it also can be proud of owning a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence longer than any other restaurant in the area … since 2003. The list is dizzying: Online, it’s 12 pages with every category imaginable, from chardonnays -separated into “New World” and “Old World” — to Italian reds and whites separated by regions to Burgundys to a pinot noir section that alone has more than two dozen choices. It’s maddening. From the approachable (Frog’s Leap sauvignon blanc, Napa’s Adele cab) to middle end (Robert Mondavi Maestro red blend, Veuve Clicquot yellow label champagne) to super high end (Tuscany’s Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto for $680, 2014 Armand Rousseau Chamberlin Grand Cru Burgundy for $1,181, 1998 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux for $1,200), Dock’s has it all. Dock’s is located at 2405 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City. Go to DocksOysterHouse.com.
When you think of amazing wine lists, you might not equally think of a modern Japanese pub, but Izakaya at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa shows Restaurateur/Chef Michael Schulson’s constant drive for perfection, and having an amazing wine list to complement his Japanese-influenced creations, sushi and robatayaki is a must, earning him and the restaurant a 2020 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the 10th straight year. With more than 150 varietals, Izakaya has some great reds (Silver Oak, Opus One, Jordan, Tuscany’s Gaja Promis), whites and sparklings (Veuve, Perrier Joulet, Far Niente, Chateau Montelena) and more, but what probably has Wine Spectator gushing is its sake list featuring more than a dozen half bottles and another 20 or so full or large format bottles from Junmai Nigori’s Snow Maiden ($24 half bottle) all the way to Daiginjo Koshu’s Flying Pegasus for $388 for a full bottle. It’s pretty much unrivaled anywhere in South Jersey. Izakaya is located inside Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Go to The Borgata.com.
Rhythm & Spirits
Owner Mark Callazzo, a third-degree black belt in wine, has received numerous accolades for his wine list at the former Iron Room, including best wine list by this very mag. But now that the Iron Room is no more, much of that wine list has transferred to Rhythm & Spirits, which pairs perfectly with Chef Kevin Cronin’s modern take on Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. There are some beauties on the list but check out the John Wade Cabernet — also available next door at Callazzo’s new chocolate haven — Bar 32 — for $18 a glass and $50 for a bottle, which is a great deal. The Paso Robles is balanced and versatile enough to be dinner in a glass but also pairs well with a medium rare steak or dark chocolate. Rhythm & Spirits and Bar 32 Chocolate are located on Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City. Go to TennAveAC.com.