Zagat Editor Kelly Dobkin stopped by Duane Park on the Bowery to find out what’s it like to be serenaded by a singing sommelier. She filed this report for NY1.
Duane Park brings back the old-school dinner and a show experience by offering live entertainment while you dine, six nights a week. However, this Bowery hotspot also has another trick up its sleeve: a singing sommelier. Meet Michael Cunio.
"It happened sort of by accident,” he says. “I had been working in entertainment my whole life — music, singing, doing theater — and I was actually here on Broadway doing “Hairspray” when I really became infatuated with wines."
In addition to singing and performing, Cunio also acts as sommelier, advising tables on bottles of wine in between songs and sometimes, during them.
"After the show on Thursday nights, we would all go hang out and drink wine and I discovered that I had a passion for it,” says Cunio. “I went to WSET International Wine Center here and became certified with honors and found work right away. And found that actually through the contacts and experiences I met being a sommelier I actually ended up getting back into music."
The wine Cunio the sommelier selected for us paired well with the food on Duane Park’s world class menu.
"It’s a very eclectic wine list, very classic, old world/new world. Obviously we are serving all types of palates nightly here so we want to have a little something for everyone. Accessible price points, really fantastic producers — we really strive to provide people with something a little more unique. You’re going to get your Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays but we want to get you some of the more interesting versions of those wines," he says.
And when a table has a hard time making a wine-ordering decision?
"What would be the song I would sing to force people to order wine? Maybe “Hot Legs” by Rod Stewart," Cunio says.
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