Good Mansion Wines, with its Old World flavor, is always evolving into something new, says Dominick Cerrone, owner of “Wheeling’s finest” purveyor of wines, cheeses, pastries, chocolates, pastas, meats, truffles, olive oils, vinegars … the list goes on.
First came the wines, back in 2006, when the historic L.S. Good Mansion became Good Mansion Wines. And, then they “expanded carefully” into the cheeses, Cerrone said. Hitting the shelves most recently are fine chocolates and macarons. And in between came the hand-made pizzas on Fridays and Saturdays; Alsatian flatbreads and escargot on “French Thursdays”; homemade pastas in a myriad of shapes and sizes; and beautiful patisserie offerings and fresh baguettes.
It’s a virtual food court of the very best— a food court in a warm, inviting 1905 mansion with stained-glass windows and a crystal chandelier. You can shop and eat and browse and shop some more and eat some more. Enjoy a cup of cappuccino with pastries in the morning or sip free wine samples while you lunch on soup, sandwiches, pizza and more.
“It’s a 360-degree experience,” Cerrone said.
Cerrone engineers the whole operation. Pun intended. By day, he is an engineer at Cerrone Associates Inc., located just next door to the historic Good Mansion. But hours upon hours and more effort than anyone realizes are put into bringing quality foods and wines to Wheeling.
A true “purveyor,” he seeks out the finest products in the world, and that takes a lot of effort. He actively searches for what wines get space on his shelves. He doesn’t just look at the list of available West Virginia wines. He finds the wines and gets them on the list — it’s the “tail wagging the dog,” he says.
And, for food products, “we go directly to the source.”
He finds food items from small, multi-generational family businesses in Italy — the ones three-star Michelin chefs boast of using, he noted.
The chocolates are from Thierry Atlan, a chocolatier with the prestigious title of a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, which equates to one of the “best craftsmen of France,” named in various trades by the president of France.
The macarons also come from Atlan’s kitchen, which is located just outside of New York City. He relocated to this country to take advantage of the U.S. market. The macarons are hand-made, flash frozen, then shipped to Good Mansion Wines. Twelve varieties — including chocolate, pistachio, raspberry and birthday cake, to name a few — are offered, and are delicious!
And just in time for the holidays, fresh white truffles from a small truffle house in Italy will arrive the week of Dec. 10.
“These are the prized tuber magnatum pico that go for $150 to $250 an ounce (ours will be $84 an ounce, or $3 a gram). We are taking a cut off profit to afford people in Wheeling a chance to experiment with this gorgeous product that you can only find in New York City, L.A., etc. We directly import fresh black truffles from the same house in Italy every summer at $20 an ounce, but the whites are much more prized and rare. We would like to think of it as our Christmas gift to Wheeling, and hope people can plan a holiday meal around them,” Cerrone said.
Not only do they purchase from the best, but they also train with the best.
Cerrone learned to make pizza from Gennaro Nasti, an Italian pizza maker from Naples, whose pizza shop, Bijou in Paris, was named Pizzeria of the Year in 2017 by the Italian magazine Gambero Rosso.
“I trained in his basement,” Dominick said.
Cerrone and lead baker Jeramy Tirpak trained in baguettes and pastries at one of France’s foremost professional baking schools, INPB, (Institut National de la Boulangerie Pâtisserie) in Rouen, France. And Olivier Thiry, Good Mansion’s patissier, trained with a colleague of Thierry Atlan’s at Lenotre, a well-known French school of gastronomy.
Their life experiences and travels around the world also bring a wide representation of wines to the table — a “window on the world,” so to speak.
“We have wines you can’t get anywhere else,” Cerrone said, surrounded by 2,000 varieties from France, Spain, Germany and Italy, as well as wines from West Virginia and California.
And because of the large and varied selection, “We might just welcome more people to Wheeling than about any place else,” with the exception of Oglebay and Wheeling Island Racetrack-Casino-Hotel, Cerrone said.
Customers from Pittsburgh show up just about every day, and around the holidays, many visitors to the city and those just driving through step inside the walls of Good Mansion for the brilliant selection.
FROM ‘PEASANT’ ROOTS to TOP OF THE LINE
Dominick, born and raised in Wheeling, is proud to say that Good Mansion Wines “is a Wheeling store; it’s not someone coming in from the outside,” he said.
He’s also proud to say he came from peasant roots — in fact, his said his dad was a rural farmer in Italy, who “worked the farm with reeds over his feet,” and eventually escaped the war in Italy to come to the U.S.
Dominick’s exposure to food and wine was from his family; Italian life was centered around the table.
“[Food and wine] wasn’t fancy, [but] it was an integral part of your life. … You have a profound respect, a reverence for that. … It’s not like you were born with a silver spoon of taste,” he said. “It’s like you all start from scratch with basically jugs of table wine but from there you realize … it’s a drive to get the finest. It’s the same thing with the breads and the pastries.”
And that drive to get the finest is what drives Good Mansion Wines.
“We do our fresh pastas now. We got a restaurant pasta machine, a pretty serious investment. … Got a whole bunch of different dies from Italy; we’re basically excited to bring a whole fresh pasta to market that the city’s never seen before.”
The pasta, he said, is a perfect complement to the imported sauces, condiments and truffle products.
“Italians aren’t too snobby, but one thing they are very particular about is what sauces go with what kind of pastas. It’s been fun educating customers about the appropriate kinds — the Italian sensibility — of sauces for pastas,” he said.
Besides the pasta maker, they use other top-of-the-line equipment, including the pizza and bread oven — for Good Mansion offerings.
But back to that impressive list of imported and freshly made offerings: meats, cheeses, sandwiches, olives, olive oils, vinegars, pastries, bread, pasta, chocolates, crackers, truffles pate, condiments, sauces and of course, the wines that started it all — it truly is a “360-degree” experience.
Cerrone takes great pride in the “extraordinary efforts” they put into bringing the best and the finest to Wheeling.
“And people should be taking advantage of the fruits of our labor.”
Good Mansion Wines is located at 95 14th St., Wheeling, and is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., (open Sundays through the end of the year). Christmas Eve hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 304-233-2632; goodmansionwines.com
• After nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal has joined Weelunk as managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.