It’s always a pleasure to speak with folks of Italian heritage, but when they come from the same region as your own family — Campania — and even the same province and town, Candida, then it gets very exciting.
I recently had the pleasure to meet Filippo de Magistris, one of the restaurant owners of Il Casale in Lexington. The restaurant is located in downtown Lexington on Mass. Ave and it focuses on the cuisine from the region of Campania where de Magistris and his brothers, Dante and Damien, originate from.
De Magistris’s father Leon came over from Candida with his sister and parents when he was still a teenager. For over 40 years, he worked in the Boston area as a hairdresser alongside his brother, and Leon still runs Leon & Co in Belmont. De Magistris family portraits displayed throughout Il Casale in Lexington give you that old world Italian family welcome when you enter and while you’re enjoying your evening.De Magistris co-owns three restaurants with his brothers: Il Casale in Lexington, Il Casale in Belmont and Dante in Cambridge. Il Casale in Lexington is slightly different than the other restaurants, featuring the cuisine of Campania. The owner’s love for the region is demonstrated throughout the restaurant: the kitchen walls are lined with hand painted tiles from Vietri of the Amalfi coast, an ancient map is displayed on the wall in the bar area showcasing Campania.
De Magistris’s brother Dante is the mastermind chef behind the three restaurants, while his other brother Damian’s restaurant management expertise and Filippo’s passion for wine makes for a winning combination.
What makes Filippo de Magistris’s wine list so appealing is the fact that some of his wine lists feature wines that he and his brothers have specifically sourced and imported directly from Avellino through contacts they have established over the years.
De Magistris’s love of wines was born from his multiple trips throughout Italy where he expanded his knowledge, which was then reinforced after attending Boston University’s Wine and Spirits Education Trust program, where he received an advanced certificate. He grew up with his father making wine and his cabernet sauvignon and alicante earned gold and silver medal awards respectively in the Tasters Guild.
I specifically sampled with de Magistris the wines from the Michele Contrada vineyards. These wines are named Phoenix after the bird of Candida. Among the wines were Fiano di Avellino and Coda di Volpa, with my favorite of the two being the 2014 Fiano di Avellino. This wine was also awarded the Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) award, which is given by Gambero Rosso and represents extraordinary wines. I also sampled the 2009 Vinosia Taurasi, which is a wine made with aglianico grape.
You can sample many wines exclusively imported for the de Magistris brothers’ restaurants, including:
• Coda di Volpe
• Fiano di Avellino
• Taurasi (aglianico)
• Nebbiolo Langhe
• Sparkling Rose’
• Primitivo di Manduria
Take yourself to Campania for a night and immerse yourself in the food and wine of this region and don’t forget to try the native grapes and unique wines that the de Magistris family presents to the Boston area.