New Haven’s Ninth Square manages to pack quite a variety of restaurants into its four up-and-coming blocks. One of those tiny but welcoming spots is Skappo Italian Wine Bar. Started in 2004 by the Sincavage family as an outgrowth of Italian Anna Gambacorta and her American husband Thomas Sincavage’s love of Italian food and culture, it has become even more of a family affair with their children, Michael, Marc, and Yvette, working alongside them.
About 10 years ago, Anna, an Italian teacher and Tom, an architect, began to explore her Umbrian heritage by staging occasional Medieval dinners at the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden. The events were in the vein of Assisi’s famous May festival called Calendimaggio, where attendees are decked out in period costume. Eventually they decided to share their revelry, love and knowledge of Italian food and wine. In 2004 they launched Skappo, a traditional Italian enoteca where wine is accompanied by small plates of food, shared at long, family-style tables. Skappo means “escape” and comes from a poem by St. Francis of Assisi celebrating his love of nature.
Anna likens her family to the human hand – it takes all five people working in cooperation for Skappo to succeed. Tom designed and built the space. Michael has a background in international relations and helps with ordering ingredients from Italy. Marc has a business degree that helps keep the restaurant on course financially. Yvette has a communications degree and handles the restaurant’s marketing. She also makes all the desserts. And of course Anna has the family’s culinary history and traditions.
At first, patrons came to discover the wines. Now they come to be together, enjoying the wine and food as a communal experience. The central-Italian cuisine is mostly meat based, simple, not much sauce, not so many ingredients that they overwhelm one other.
Skappo is open for dinner five nights a week. Fortunately, around the corner is their market, Skappo Merkato at 51 Orange St., where you can get lighter Skappo fare or buy in-house delicacies such as Anna’s chutney and jams.
Restaurant Website: http://www.skappo.com/about
Market Website: http://www.skappomerkato.com/
• The Detes: 59 Crown St., New Haven • 203-773-1394 • Open Wednesday through Sunday at 4:30pm for dinner.
• Price Range: From crostini at $5.25 through $23.50 for the rabbit entree.
• Style of Food: Umbrian, Italian
• Most Popular Dishes: Tough to say since diners nearly always share what is ordered, but the rabbit is always a hit.
• Wines, wines, wines: Only Italian
• Seating and eating: Long communal tables give the sense of a family get-together.
• You might remember them from: Medieval-style dinners at the Eli Whitney Museum.
• The contentment factor: You feel like you’re eating at your own dinning table.