Just outside of St. Paul in Lilydale, Minn., Osteria I Nonni serves authentic Italian cuisine with an extensive wine program. The restaurant was opened in 2002 by the Marchionda family; now under the leadership of owner Bill Miller, it’s held Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence since 2019.
Supported by a partnership with local wine store, Sunfish Cellars, the wine list is managed by wine director Hoyt Hill and stands at 1,200 selections. Excelling in Italian wine, the list represents most of the country’s winegrowing regions, rounded out by selections from California and France. Masseto, Gaja and Fontodi are just a few of the big-name producers represented in the program. Chef Gerson Gerold matches the wine with seasonal dishes inspired by Rome such as cappellacci with kabocha squash, grilled pork shanks with balsamic agrodolce and an assortment of pizzas.
When Osteria I Nonni was forced to close its doors in March 2020, the team kept the community engaged by organizing a series of weekly virtual tastings with top winemakers such as Peter Mondavi and Christian Moreau. They even joined forces with famed chef Thomas Keller for a Zinfandel tasting. As of this month, however, the restaurant is back open for dine-in, in addition to curbside pickup and takeout.