Theo Greenly got his first job delivering pizzas at an Orange County pizzeria when he was seventeen. Since then, he has worked his way through just about every position there is in a restaurant—from busboy and waiter to host and bartender. Surprisingly enough, he says that his favorite role was as a dishwasher.
But even as he was waiting tables and washing dishes through college, wine was the most exciting part of the service industry to him. “Everyone’s happy when you pour them a glass. It’s an easy way to make friends,” he jokes.
After graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Creative Writing degree, Theo moved back to Southern California and started bartending. “I’ve bartended all over L.A.,” he says, “but wherever I was, I would always try to pick the sommelier’s brain.” When he got to Sotto, Wine Director Jeremy Parzen gave him a list of books to read. “I think he was trying to get me off his back for a while,” Theo says, “but then I read them all in like a month. I think the only thing left for him to do was make me the Wine Manager.”
Theo loves working as the Sommelier and Wine Manager at Sotto. Being able to focus on Southern Italian food and wine, he gets to really dive into the culture of the region.
Drinking wine is a way to connect with the culture of a place; a way to travel without leaving home. And Italy is Theo’s favorite place to travel. “I’ve been there twice, and any time I take a trip somewhere that isn’t Italy, it’s like, hmm, that was nice, but next time let’s go to Italy.”
We caught up with Theo and asked him about his favorite food and wine pairings below:
Puttanesca Pizza & Gragnano
Gragnano is a slightly sweet, gently sparkling red wine from outside of Naples. We do Neopolitan pizza, and in Naples there are three things they pair with pizza: Coca-Cola, beer, or Gragnano. The Puttanesca Pizza with white anchovies, olives, and fried capers has a mix of bright and salty flavors, so the slight sweetness of the wine balances with it amazingly well. It’s like yin and yang, I’m obsessed with it.
Bistecca & Aglianico del Vulture
We do our own in-house butchery, and the Bistecca is the big boy. It's a 30-day dry-aged ribeye steak that's charred over white oak. You want a big and tannic wine that has enough structure and acidity to stand up to the richness and full flavors of the ribeye. I’d go for an Aglianico, which is the noble grape of Southern Italy. They grow it on an extinct volcano called Monte Vulture. The 2010 Cantine del Notaio is amazing, it has this deep nose of black cherries and wet soil, it was born for the Bistecca. Charred ribeye and volcano wine, are you kidding me?
If you want more food and wine recommendations, you can email Theo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, better yet, come on in and say “hi!”