Mandalou and her husband, chef Deneb Williams, opened Allora in February at 5215 Folsom Blvd. The Italian seafood restaurant boasts a 22-foot-tall wine cellar with more than 200 types of European wines, most of them Italian or Greek.
A Sacramento native, Mandalou learned the finer points of wine from Jeremy Reed at Ella Dining Room and Bar before opening Woodlake Tavern and Uptown Pizza Kitchen with Williams. She became a certified sommelier in 2013 and passed the three-day advanced sommelier exam last summer, becoming just the third Sacramentan to do so.
Wine & Spirits surveyed sommeliers around the country for recommendations of newcomers who could show off their exquisite wine lists with strength, speed, modesty and enthusiasm. Kristy McDonald of Per Se, a three-Michelin-starred Thomas Keller restaurant in New York City, called Allora’s wine list “daring and eclectic.”
Ryan Bailey of The NoMad in Los Angeles, a former Sacramento resident, also made Wine & Spirits’ list. Bailey earned his Level 1 sommelier certification while working toward a bachelor’s degree at Sacramento State, and began working as The Kitchen’s director of service and sommelier in 2010, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Mandalou and Bailey joined two sommeliers from New York City and one from Philadelphia on Wine & Spirits’ list of lead wine buyers with less than four years of experience.
Wine & Spirits publishes eight issues a year for its 200,000 readers in the wine community, according to the magazine’s website. Writers there have won five James Beard Awards since the magazine’s founding in 1982.