Somm's List

Joel Anthony Caruso

Lifting the veil of alcohol obscurit for consumers around the globe, one sip, one person, one dinner - one event at a time.
mar'sel. Rancho Palos Verdes. Bartender
True Food Kitchen. Newport Beach. Bartender
Pizzeria Mozza. Newport Beach. Bartender
Pizzeria Ortica. Costa Mesa. Beverage Director
Bar Mateo at Zinc Cafe. Los Angeles, CA. Beverage Director
Vivino. United States. Brand Ambassador
Inventory Management
Regional Expertise: California
Regional Expertise: Italy
Wine and Food Pairing
Wine Writer
Wine Judge
Wine Service- Restaurant
Wine Service- Bar or Wine Bar
Wine List Creation
Lifting the veil of alcohol obscurit for consumers around the globe, one sip, one person, one dinner - one event at a time.
My Mother had been a wine buyer for the local wine shop for many years. My attraction to wine started well before I was old enough to drink. When I found myself being naturally pulled in the direction of becoming a sommelier, I didn't resist. Instead I decided it was time to stop looking for what I was gong to do with my life, because it clearly found me first.
Joel Anthony Caruso
Joel Anthony Caruso
Long Beach, CA
United States

Brand Ambassador

If there’s one thing that has been made clear to Joel, it’s that there is never a time to stop learning, and always a time to start teaching those willing to learn. With over 15 years of restaurant experience under his belt, Joel has effectively intertwined his understanding of alcohol, guest services and relationship building into a unique and relatable form of hospitality and education.  

It was at Fox Restaurant Concepts' Olive & Ivy in Scottsdale where Joel discovered his passionate appreciation for liquid education. He spent the first 3 years of O&I’s infancy assisting sommeliers Kyle Erickson and Jake Daniken with tastings, training and cellar management in its Wine Spectator award-winning wine program.  

Aspiring to further his knowledge of wine, Joel looked west to reconnect with his roots in California. He was offered a position at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, in its chandelier restaurant, Mar’Sel. It was there he made the decision to take up bartending as a way to round out his knowledge of service and libations as a whole.

Shortly after, Joel was scouted to assist the opening of True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach as a bartender. After the first year of its opening, Joel was then asked to open Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s partnership with Nancy Silverton in Newport Beach, Pizzeria Mozza. With an opportunity to learn alongside two of Orange County’s most talented bartenders, Jaren Singh and Sten Green, and one of Los Angeles’ most revered sommeliers, Taylor Parsons, he was able to greatly expand his knowledge of cocktails, wine, and spirits, particularly in the Italian sphere.  

Joel has consistently dedicated himself to an overall roundedness as a lover of wine, beer, spirits, and hospitality. Currently a student of the WSET level 4 Diploma program, as well as preparing for the Advanced level 3 Sommelier Exam, there is a distinct and contagious magnetism around his commitment to assimilating all he can in the world of beverage, for the sake of sharing what he has learned.  

Joel has been the Beverage Director at Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa since March of 2013, taking the wine and bar program to new heights with the aide and mentorship of GM, Jason Scarborough. Introducing Madeira to twist classic cocktails and partnering with the chefs in joint effort to create unforgettable cocktails. In addition, he has worked diligently to create one Southern California's largest collection of amari, lauding Pizzeria Ortica as being leaders at the epicenter of the cocktail renaissance in Orange County. As a team they achieved the restaurant’s first Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, as well as numerous accolades for the bar program, including Joel being named Orange County’s Best Bartender in 2015 by OC Weekly.  

By cultivating relationships with winemakers across Italy and California, Joel has been able to highlight regional Italian gems and California-grown Italian varieties not easily found from producers such as Sean Thackrey, Steve Matthaiasson and Dan Petroski, further enhancing the charm and integrity of the "Cal-Italian" themed restaurant. 

As a side project, Joel also runs a private out-door bar situated in a shipping container, on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach called Open Container. He was contracted to curate and man a high-end, seasonally themed bar to service Hollywood’s elite, creating a buzz for one of the most elusive and sought after invitations the west side of Los Angeles has encountered.