As far as Peter Rizzo and Ming Yee are concerned, food and wine are a natural fit that requires no additives or enhancements.
Rizzo has been involved in the expanding natural wine movement—supporting wine that contains no residues from the agricultural or winemaking process—for 25 years. “It’s a worldwide movement, a renaissance,” he explains, “of returning to ancestral ways of farming grapes and winemaking.”
Yee is the chef running Bar Nat three nights a week, creating an ever-changing lineup of organic dishes. He previously was the chef/owner of the vegan Café Nutrients. The food at Bar Nat is not vegan, but Yee tries to offer something for everyone.
Customers can select wines to pair with the food by ordering by the glass or picking a bottle from the shelf. “It’s the connection of healthy organic food on the restaurant side and the healthiest wines on the planet in terms of natural wines,” Rizzo says.
Yee is working hard to maintain a scratch, organic kitchen, making his own gnocchi and pesto, focaccia, and sourdough starter—among other items. They call it a neo-bistro because it’s modeled after similar places in Europe. The atmosphere is casual, and customers order by checking off their choices on a list, dim sum or sushi style.
Sometimes they serve flights of wine for the price of a glass at dinner so people can taste and learn about several.
“We like to think they leave not just satiated with healthier food and drink, but they also learned something,” Rizzo says. “We want wine to be understood, approachable, but an important icon of Western civilization.”