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Articles by: Tommaso Cartia

  • I fiori in omaggio alle vittime davanti al bassorilievo per la memoria dedicato all'11 settembre
    Fatti e Storie

    Onore alle vittime italiane dell’11 Settembre

    L’11 Settembre 2017 segna il sedicesimo anniversario del tragico evento durante il quale hanno perso la vita miglialia di persone e tra queste anche molti italiani ed italoamericani. La comunità italiana si è stretta intorno al ricordo di tutte le vittime e ha reso onore ai propri compatrioti presso Il Consolato Generale d’Italia

    La cerimonia in Consolato

    La cerimonia è iniziata con una sentita preghiera pronunciata da Monsignor Hilary Franco - osservatore della Santa Sede alle Nazioni Unite - davanti all’opera dell’artista Antonio Manfredi posta all’ingresso del Consolato in memoria dei caduti. Di fronte al bassorilievo raffigurante le Torri Gemelle nel momento del crollo, è stato apposto un vaso che tutti i partecipati hanno riempito con un emozionato e sentito omaggio floreale.

    I presenti si sono poi spostati nella sala conferenze del Consolato dove, il Console Generale Francesco Genuardi,  ha ricordato l’importanza  del ricordo di tutte le vittime del tragico attentato.

    Tra gli ospiti  Victor Calise, Commissioner Office for People with Disabilities del Sindaco di New York Bill De Blasio, che ha speso parole significative sull’importanza di non dimenticare, rammentando quanto la città di New York ha fatto e continua a fare per ricostruire, riparare e ricucire una ferita che rimane purtroppo sempre aperta. Calise ha poi rivolto un pensiero speciale a tutti gli italiani ed italoamericani scomparsi quel giorno.

    Il percorso della memoria

    Un contributo  è stato poi dato da una delegazione istituzionale della città di Brescia arrivata a New York per unirsi alle vittime del 9/11.

    Il 28 Maggio 1974 anche la città di Brescia è stata colpita da un violento attacco terroristico, a Piazza della Loggia, durante il quale hanno perso la vita diversi bresciani. L’Associazione Casa della Memoria di Brescia in collaborazione con il Comune di Brescia, l’Associazione Famigliari Caduti Strage di Piazza Loggia e la Provincia di Brescia, hanno pensato di sviluppare un'installazione viva in memoria delle vittime del terrorismo e della violenza politica, che si snoda in un percorso che unisce Piazza della Loggia con alcuni altri importanti luoghi storici della città arrivando fino al Castello, seguendo la via di Contrada S. Urbano. Lungo il tragitto si trovano una serie di formelle e di cippi, elementi lapidei in commemorazione delle vittime di diverse stragi. 

    Ce ne ha parlato Laura Parenza, Presidente del Consiglio Comunale del Comune di Brescia. “La costruzione del percorso della memoria vuole ricordare le vittime di tutte le stragi. Il percorso è sia di memoria, ma anche di condivisione. Questo è stato il senso dell’incontro di oggi in Consolato, l’idea di condividere e nel contempo di costruire insieme per un mondo di pace, cercando di veicolare quei valori che devono essere lasciati in mano alle future generazioni. La società di oggi, è una società del mondo, oggi una città è fatta di persone che vengono da paesi diversi, con culture diverse, dobbiamo dunque avere la forza e la capacità di ascoltarci reciprocamente.”

    La lettura dei nomi 

    Momento centrale della giornata è poi stata la lettura dei nomi degli italiani e degli italo-americani scomparsi. Un tema difficile perché per rispettare la legge italiana sulla privacy l’identità dei nomi italiani delle vittime non può essere rivelata. Se ne occupa da anni, il Cav. Giulio Picolli, che ha presentato la lista dei nomi ritrovati da lui che sono stati poi letti. 

    Emigrato nel 1965 da Napoli in America alla ricerca di una vita migliore, Picolli ha speso quarantacinque anni battendosi per la comunità italiana negli Stati Uniti, cercando - ci dice -  di abbattere stereotipi e pregiudizi.  E della sua ricerca dei nomi italiani della strage dell’11 Settembre ci dice questo: “Dal 1969 mi sono prefisso di aiutare la nostra comunità. Quando hanno cominciato le celebrazioni dopo l’attentato alle Torri Gemelle, mi sono personalmente impegnato, individuando tra i 3000 nomi quelli italiani. L'ho fatto per amore della mia terra con la voltontà di difendere l’italianità qui in America, e rendere merito a tutto quello che la comunità italiana, tra immigrati ed italo-americani, ha fatto e continua a fare di importante per gli Stati Uniti d’America.”

    Un momento importante è stato quello legato alla fondamentale presenza dei vigili del fuoco, molti dei quali italiani. Ricordiamo infatti che l'allora capo dei vigili del fuoco era, Daniel A. Nigro, oggi Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department.

    In un rispettoso ed eloquente silenzio sono stati  quindi letti i nomi. Nomi italiani, nomi misti, nomi italo-americani, nomi modificati dalla necessità di integrarsi, alcuni storpiati, nomi che a volte facevano parte dello stesso nucleo familiare, nomi da non dimenticare. Oltre al Cav. Picolli una parte dei nomi sono stati letti, con sentita partecipazione, anche da Silvana Mangione Vice Segretario Generale per i Paesi Anglofoni extraeuropei del CGIE.

    Successivamente la delegazione di Brescia ha conferito al Console Generale e al Consolato delle targhe, ringraziando per l’invito e per il grande lavoro svolto per la comunità italiana a New York.

    Un rinfresco offerto da Clemente Italian Bakery & Deli, biscottificio e panificio del NJ, ha poi concluso questo evento in una atmosfera calda, commossa ma che guarda al passato per costruire un futuro migiliore.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Art & Culture

    INDIVISIBLE–The Beguiling Italian Fable Opens in the US Theaters

    Despite its title, INDIVISIBLE is literally uniting both critics and the public all over the world. It has already won 6 David di Donatello, gotten three 2017 Golden Globes nominations, including best film, and shined at the 73rd Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

    The film presents us with the hard and intense truth of the suburbs of Naples, with the story of two Siamese twins (the stunning debut of Angela and Marianna Fontana), who are gifted with musical talent, but then transformed into a traveling freakshow.

    The World of INDIVISIBLE

    The fascination of the movie resides in its potent lyricism, which stands at the threshold of neorealism and symbolism. In the tradition of the Itaian neorealism wave, Edoardo De Angelis depicted the harsh maze of mysery that wafts around the two innocent protagonists, with symbolic, evocative images that transcend into a magical realism. The two twins are transformed into an icon of hope, a deity, for the public that seeks and venerates them. The imagery clashes with the human condition of the two girls whose internal journey is the search for their own individuality, a desire for normality and for youth, which is negated by their family who wants to use them for gain.

    A sense of inescapable decadence lives thorugh the entire movie where everything seems to be just a an empty simulacrum of what it should be, from the family and the priest's church, to the Neapolitan suburbs where the girls live. A world that has no mercy for their human condition. It's hard to watch the mother of the two spending her time abusing weed and just looking for the next thing to buy, which she purchases with the money that the freak musical duo gains with their performances. It's hard to watch the father obsessed with managing the girls career, which ultimately is his own, spend all of their money gambling. And it's even more brutal to watch the priest use the twins during his liturgical ceremony, making them pass for a divinity, in order to make money out of them. Or the musical producer who promises them a successful career and money to pay for the operation that could divide them, but, in reality, he is just driven by a morbid sexual attraction to the freaks. 

    It's a dark constellation of evil presences where the innoncence of the two girls shines through, with their incredible beauty and their evocative vocal talent. 

    Realism and Symbolism in De Angelis's Imagery

    We talked with Edoardo De Angelis about the dichotomy between realism and symbolism: “From an aesthetic point of view, in the eternal debate between realism and magical representation, I try to portray a form of truth. It’s a method that begins with a deep investigation of reality but that doesn’t always accept the representational limits of realism. Sometimes, in order to tell a truth, the image needs to be reformed and made symbolic, it needs to become poetry.”

    In Indivisible, archaic symbols and contemporary representations coexist in the attempt to grasp the true nature of a situation that is never only contemporary. “If you follow contemporaneity, you risk showing the world in a way that immediately gets old,” De Angelis told us, “The moment in which I’m telling you something that’s extremely contemporary. In a newspaper, that page will be old the day after. The copresence of old, modern, and futuristic elements is functional. If you’re able to include the past with the present and the future in a single frame, you offer a more honest form to a true representation. Life is nestled in the precarious balance between present and future.”

    A Fascinating Soundtrack

    In this balance between realism and imagination, the musical comment from Enzo Avitabile, another key player in the story, also has a hand. “We decided to work with Enzo Avitabile on two fundamental elements. Percussion, which represents the terrestrial element, and the horns, which represent a more transcendental aspect. The screenplay followed the score, and the score followed the screenplay.”

    The American Release

    Regarding one trip to the United States, where he presented the movie in the frame of the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2017 festival, De Angelis told us, “One of my desires is definitely to see my films distributed in the States. I believe this audience, particularly the one in this historic moment, can be very sensitive to the idea of freakshows."

    The Cinema Made in Italy, a program that promotes and distributes Italian films to theaters in the United States, sponsored by Istituto Luce Cinecittà, the Italian Trade Commission, and the Deutchman Company Inc. is making De Angelis's desire a reality by distributing the movie in North American theaters. 

    The movie will open first in New York on September 15 at the Linconln Plaza Cinema, then in Los Angeles on September 29 at the Laemmle Royal, and will be present at the San Diego Italian Film Festival on October 3rd. Coming soon to a theater near you!

    INDIVISIBLE was produced by Attilo De Razza and Pierpaolo Verga–a Tramp Limited and O’Groove production in collaboration with Medusa Film and Mediaset Premium.

    For more info check the Cinema Made in Italy website here. >>

    Watch the trailer here. >>

  • Gourmet

    La leggenda di Dom e “Di Fara Pizza”

    Se ci si addentra nel cuore di Brooklyn all’altezza della stazione della metropolitana Avenue J, ci si ritrova in uno dei classici quartieri ebraici newyorchesi, pieno di sinagoghe e di ristoranti Kosher; forse l’ultimo posto al mondo dove si penserebbe di trovare una tipica pizzeria italiana. Ma si sa che New York è città dalle infinite sorprese, dai mille contrasti ma anche dalle mille sintesi culturali. A pochi passi dalla stazione Avenue J vive infatti una delle più antiche pizzerie italiane della Grande Mela, Di Fara Pizza, un nome divenuto ormai leggendario, meta di celebrità e turisti da tutto il mondo.

    Il segreto di questa piccola pizzeria italiana è tutto nella mani d’oro di Domenico De Marco, il pizzaiolo di origini casertane (Caiazzo), che dal 1964, anno di apertura della pizzeria, ogni giorno impasta e sforna le pizze per i suoi numerosissimi clienti.

    La storia di Domenico

    La sua è una di quelle storie mitiche, quelle che si raccontavano in Italia, che vedevano nell’America una meravigliosa terra promessa. E così nel 1959 Domenico lascia Caiazzo e segue il padre, cittadino americano, nella grande metropoli newyorchese. Quando parla della sua storia, sono i silenzi, le pause, gli occhi sognanti, pieni ancora di quell’ardore giovanile, che illuminano il suo volto ad esprimere più di mille parole.

    “Mio padre era diventato un cittadino americano, quindi lo sono anch'io automaticamente. Sono arrivato qui da Caiazzo, una città molto antica. La mia era una famiglia di contadini, coltivavamo l’olio, facevamo il vino, molti fichi. Prima di trasferirmi qui a Brooklyn vivevo a Long Island, Huntington, lì lavoravo in una fattoria italiana”.

    Proprio mentre lavorava in fattoria Domenico ricorda che qualcuno gli raccontò del quartiere intorno alla fermata Avenue J, dicendogli che lì c’erano delle opportunità interessanti.

    Un sabato sera Dom - lo ricorda come se fosse oggi - andò a visitare la zona.  Rimase sorpreso dalla quantità di gente che c’era, il locale che sarebbe poi diventato la sua pizzeria, era in vendita ed era situato in un’ottima posizione centrale.

    Dom aveva già fatto qualche esperienza in pizzeria e sentiva di essere pronto per aprire la sua personale attività. Così senza esitazione, fidandosi di quell’intuito e di quell’istinto che lo hanno sempre guidato nelle decisioni più importanti della sua vita, decise di prendere il locale.

    Quando aprì l’attività, il suo partner si chiamava Farina. Dall’unione del nome DeMarco e Farina nasce quindi Di Fara Pizza, e quello stesso locale, così come era allora, si è perfettamente conservato, immutato nel tempo come la forza di Domenico, la sua determinazione ed il suo grande amore per l’arte della pizza.

    “Appena si apre la porta di questo locale non si finisce mai di lavorare fino alle nove di sera. È la mia passione, la mia vita. Sono ormai quasi 53 anni di attività.” Racconta con fierezza Domenico.

    La pizza non è stato però l’unico amore di DeMarco, sposato con una donna americana che gli ha dato dei figli meravigliosi tra cui Margaret che ancora oggi affianca il padre nella conduzione della pizzeria.

    “Mi sono sposato con una donna molto cattolica, molto religiosa. Ci siamo sposati in chiesa. Mi è piaciuta perchè se ne stava per i fatti suoi, era taciturna. Era una cosa buona, perchè come dico sempre io “meglio soli che male accompagnati!”.  

    Un vero personaggio Domenico, ironico e allegro, oltre ad essere un eccezionale ed instancabile pizzaiolo, è anche un uomo affabile, positivo, amante della vita ed in particolare della musica. La musica italiana che ascolta e fa ascoltare ai suoi clienti da Di Fara.  

    “Io ascolto sempre la musica italiana qua. Mi piace il suono della fisarmonica, la tarantella, la musica folk italiana. Uno dei miei artisti preferiti era Enrico Caruso che ho avuto modo di sentire qui a New York, e poi Enrico Fiume che veniva sempre qui a mangiare la pizza. La muscia mia aiuta a trovare il giusto ritmo per il mio lavoro. La mia canzone preferita è l’Ave Maria”.

    La pizza di “Di Fara”

    Ma cosa ha reso Di Fara così popolare in tutto il mondo? È ormai una tappa classica dei turisti che vengono a visitare New York, molti italiani affermano che la pizza è addirittura più buona da Di Fara che in Italia e le celebrità non hanno mai smesso di fare capolino, di quando in quando, alla piccola pizzeria di Brooklyn. Ultimamente i famosi cantanti Tony Bennett ed Ed Sheeran e l’attore Leonardo di Caprio, solo per citarne alcuni. È proprio Domenico a spiegarci il perchè del suo successo:

    “Quando gli italiani vengono qui a provare la mia pizza mi dicono che gli piace addirittura di più di quella che mangiano in Italia. Tutti gli ingredienti che uso per la pizza vengono dall’Italia. La mozzarella Casapulla, il pomodoro San Marzano, l’olio extra vergine di oliva. Forse è proprio questo il motivo, perchè io uso solo prodotti di grandissima qualità. E poi se tu fai quello che ti piace, se hai passione per la tua arte, in questo caso l’arte del fare la pizza, la magia accade e piace alla gente. Mi piace quello che faccio e sono molto orgoglioso di quello che faccio.”

    Ingredienti di primissima qualità certo, ma anche una sorprendente abilità manuale che permette al pizzaiolo di preparare ogni giorno più o meno 150 pizze a dei ritmi vertiginosi che nulla hanno a che invidiare ai grandi ristoranti con team di lavoro ben più grandi di “Di Fara”, dove Dom fa quasi tutto da solo coadiuvato da pochi aiutanti, tra cui i suoi figli.

    La maestria di DeMarco non è solo nelle mani ma è anche nella logica delle cotture, nella consapevolezza dell’importanza dell’impasto e della ricerca costante di nuove procedure di lievitazione.

    “Io sperimento sempre nella pizza, mi evolvo sempre”. Ci ha detto Domenico. “Prima di far assaggiare una pizza ai miei clienti, sono io il primo a provarla. L’impasto è la parte più importante della pizza ed è lì dove si sperimenta di più. La pizza non deve stare dentro il forno per troppo tempo per esempio. Io la tengo non più di 5 minuti. Se sta dentro più di 5 minuti il sapore della pizza cambia radicalmente e diventa troppo secca”.

    Scrivere del sapore di questa pizza potrebbe essere facile. Si potrebbe benissimo dire che è squisita, e questo risponde a verità. Ma è l’esperienza di recarsi lì, alla fermata Avenue J giù a Brooklyn, di entrare in questa pizzeria che sembra uscita da una sbiadita cartolina in bianco e nero, di vedere quest’uomo forte come una roccia ma buono come il pane, impastare la pizza, come fa ogni giorno da cinquant’anni… e poi mangiarla la sua pizza, che ti fa assaporare il vero gusto di una parte importante della nostra storia di italiani.

     

    Di Fara Pizzeria

    1424 Avenue J
    Brooklyn, NY 11230

    google map >>

     

  • Dining in & out

    Just Imagine If Everything Was Made In-house...

    A truly “ideal” place to have an authentic taste of Roman cuisine, Ideale is also one of the best- known Italian restaurants in town. Critically acclaimed chef Maurizio Bruschi opened the place 22 years ago. He comes from four generations of chefs and started cooking at 17 years old. Maurizio was taught by his grandmother, Nonna Serafina–the secret behind Ideale’s old-fashioned Roman cuisine.

    This traditional trattoria has a striking, colorful vibe. Zagat praises Ideale: “Italian fare is the real deal... one of the few no tourist eateries in North Beach.” As you would expect from a Roman osteria, the hospitality is genuine and friendly. You will be treated like an old friend from the engaging, joyful staff. This is the same joy and engagement you will feel when you taste the restaurant’s classic Roman dishes.

    You can’t miss the signature spaghetti alla carbonara–spaghetti with homemade pancetta, eggs, pecorino and parmigiano; the bu- catini all’amatriciana–bucatini with homemade pancetta and pecorino cheese in a fresh tomato sauce; or the saltimbocca–veal scaloppini with prosciutto di parma and sage in a frascati wine reduction. Another great pasta choice would be the ravioli di zucca, which contains a perfect balance between sage and pumpkin. Everything from the pastas to the sauces are made in-house, which not only makes such a huge difference in taste but also makes you feel as if you were invited to an Italian home for supper.

    As for appetizers, clients love the grilled calamari over arugula, which is a healthier twist on the more mainstream fried calamari. Burrata is another delicacy that those who want to experience Italian food really need to have at least once in their lives. Burrata, which is Italian for “buttered,” is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatel- la and cream–giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is usually served fresh and at room temperature. At Ideale, the burrata is just right and tastes exactly as it should.

    Known for more than just pas- tas, appetizers and main courses, Ideale is also famous for being one of the best pizzerias in the area. This is due to chef ’s Maurizio previous experience in San Francisco’s dining scene. He was the owner of Pazzia, on 3rd near Folsom, which become famous for its thin crust pizzas, with tasty tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and organic basil leaves–the per- fect Roman pizza.

    Ideale’s refined selection of Italian wines will put you in a dolce vita state of mind. And speaking of dolce, you can’t miss Bruschi’s signature dessert, which is the tasty traditional tiramisù.

  • San Francisco - Little Italy
    Dining in & out

    A Taste of Italy in San Francisco

    Italian food is such a trendy and hip style of cuisine that, of course, it couldn’t not make a huge impact in one of the most European cities in the US. North Beach, the neighborhood where Italian immigrants settled in large numbers during the late 1800s, features a lot of Italian restaurants, and despite being a bit touristy like many of America’s “Little Italies,” it has some very authentic spots. There, you’ ll find places like L’Osteria del Forno, a joint focusing on northern Italian cooking, and Ideale, a typical Roman osteria.

    Of course every single neighbor-hood, not just North Beach, has its own signature Italian restaurants– some of them very rustic and tradi- tional, others in the line with San Fran’s hippy vibe. Take Credo, for example, a modern Italian restaurant in the downtown area which believes that dining is not just about eating food but also about engaging in conversations. The restaurant’s walls are decorated with sentences starting with the word “I believe,” credo in Italian.

    From chic and luxurious at-mospheres to friendly and casual ones, San Francisco’s Italian dining scene has something for everybody. But we don’t want to spoil all the richness of the city’s culinary landscape now! Beginning with this first national issue, i-Italy will take you on an adventure to discover the best Italian spots in town. To start, we selected these unmissable restaurants where you can not only savor the most authentic Italian cuisine but also learn more about local Italian cul- ture and traditions. This is just an appetizer for what’s to come! Enjoy and Buon Appetito!

    Our Selection for this Summer:

    DOWNTOWN

    Credo
    60 Pine Street
    (415) 693-0360

    Cuisine
    Traditional
    Ambience Elegant
    Price $$

    San Francisco is a bohemian city where some of the world’s most incredible artists either lived or passed through. Credo (the Italian and Latin word for “I believe”) is a modern Italian restaurant where you can still feel the Beat Generation’s vibe. Credo believes in the ancient Latin philosophy that dining is not just about consuming food, but also about conducting conversations; therefore, the restaurant’s walls are covered with an intricate array of ideas all starting with the word “I believe.” This concept surrounds the guests and invites them to reflect while savoring typical Italian dishes. For lunch, you may consider ordering one of Credo’s pizzas, and for dinner be sure to try the pumpkin gnocchi with roasted brussels sprouts, squash, apples, sage brown butter, pomegranate, and parmesan. If you’re in the mood for wine, you’ll find a selection of primarily Italian wines from both the north and the south of the peninsula. Our suggestion—take your time when at Credo, this is not a place for people in a hurry. 

     

    THE MISSION

    Farina

    3560, 18th Street
    (415) 565-036

    Cuisine Traditional
    Ambience Elegant
    Price $$$

    Farina is an exquisite slice of Italy’s Liguria in the Mission District of San Francisco. It truly was a “mission” for the restaurant’s owners to make crude farina (Italian for “flour”) grow into one of the most authentic Italian experiences in the city. The restaurant’s sleek and elegant ambience is sure to enchant diners. Be sure to try the focaccia di Recco–stracchino cheese melted between two thin layers of dough, a typical dish from the lovely city of Recco. Or perhaps you’re in the mood for a dish made with pesto, a traditional sauce originating in Genoa made with crushed basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, and sometimes cheese. You can savor it in the succulent gnocchi di patate al pesto–potato dumplings served with basil.

     

    Flour+Water

    2401 Harrison Street
    (415) 826-7000

     

    Cuisine Traditional/Fusion
    Ambience Elegant
    Price $$$

    Let’s go back to basics. Flour and water are simple ingredients, but they’re at the root of one of the most popular dishes in the entire world— pasta. With over 50 unique pasta recipes collected by Executive Chef Thomas McNaughton, this elegant yet rustic restaurant in San Francisco is all about the art of handmade pastas. The most simple ingredients in the hands of a gifted chef create true cooking masterpieces. To get the idea, try “gargati with smoked hen, bearss lime, bloomsdale spinach & toasted pistachio” or “whole wheat radiatore with braised duck, brussels sprout & persimmon mostarda.” Neapolitan style oven-baked pizzas are another one of the restaurant’s stand-out items. Flour+Water also offers pasta tasting menus and a cookbook named after the restaurant. 

     

    NORTH BEACH

    L’Osteria del Forno
    519 Columbus Avenue
    (415) 982-1124

    Cuisine Ambience
    Price $$ 
    Regional (Northern Italian) Rustic

    North Beach is often referred to as San Francisco’s Little Italy, and if you’re looking for a real Italian dining spot, be sure to check out L’Osteria del Forno, owned by the oldest Italian family in town. If you’re Italian you know that osteria is indicative of pure, traditional food. Oriented toward Northern Italian cuisine, this restaurant’s menu features typical dishes like arrosto di maiale–roasted pork, spiedino di agnello–lamb kebab, and polenta and formaggi–polenta with cheeses. The wines are purely Italian, and Richard Terzaghi, owner of L’Osteria del Forno, personally selects them from small Italian wineries. 

  • Dining in & out

    NY AREA. Eating Italian: Pizza, Pasta, and Beyond

    Sometimes a dish is more than just a dish: it’s a cultural passport, a concentration of a country’s specific flavors and aromas in a single plate. Savoring it causes you to travel with your senses without ever getting up from your chair. Though it’s well-known that Italy’s national dishes are pizza and pasta, it’s also true that Italy’s regional culinary traditions are so vast that as you travel through the Boot, you feel like you are dining  in a different “country” all the time. Have you ever tried tagliatelle with ragù from Emilia-Romagna? How about a panuozzo from Naples or polpette con caponata siciliana from Sicily?

    Thankfully, some of the best Italian chefs are scattered across the five boroughs. Come discover what they have to offer this spring thanks to our unique selection of signature dishes found in various Italian restaurants across the city. And this is only the appetizers, stay tuned for more in the near future! 

    Our Selection for this Summer

    Al Vicoletto
    3560, 18th Street
    (212) 620-6166 

    Cuisine Mediterranean
    Ambience Trendy
    Price $$$ 

    A delicious restaurant that brings the charm of small Italian alleyways to an ever-chaotic New York City. You’ll notice a perfect balance between a refined atmosphere—as you would expect from an Italian vicoletto where you find your favo- rite bar or bottega—and an elegant, stylish restaurant that harmonizes with the modern era. This multifaceted spot is constantly changing; it’s no longer simply a market for extremely high quality products or a place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brunch, cocktails, live music, sampling courses, catering, a brand- new chef, and a renovated menu combine to make dining at Al Vicoletto an even more diverse, fanciful, and charming experience.

    Chef Alessandro Pennelli from Apulia recently renovated the restaurant menu, which now presents a sophisticated Mediterranean-based selection, such as the traditional orecchiette broccoli, cime di rape ed acciughe (orecchiette with broccoli, turnip greens, and anchovies) or purea di favetta con seppie grigliate e quinoa rosso (mashed favetta, grilled cuttlefish, and red quinoa). A truly exceptional yet simple dish is the chef beef polpette, which proves to be one of Pennelli’s trending masterpieces. 

    MIDTOWN WEST
    Don Antonio by Starita
    309 West 50th Street
    (646) 719-1043

    Cuisine Traditional Neapolitan
    Ambience Cozy
    Price $$

    Pizzeria Starita, founded in Naples in 1901, represents and reflects what a true Neapolitan pizza really is. Eating this pizza is, in fact, like reading the history of pizza. Don Antonio Starita and his great-grandfather, also named Antonio, are iconic of the strong bond between the culinary tradition of pizza and the history of both Naples and Italy in general. Don Antonio knows the ancient secrets of pizza making, which is truly more of an artform than anything else. It’s a craftsmanship that you certainly can learn, but you need to embrace it like the true maestri piazzaioli do. What kind of flour to use, what portions of flour and water, how to wield a wooden pizza paddle, how to use your hands to make a perfect dough, and so on are refined techniques–similar to a painter with his colors. Don Antonio brought that tradition to New York thanks to the support of Roberto Caporuscio, a pizzaiolo with roots in America. Along with his daughter Giorgia, Caporuscio helped Don Antonio to expand his pizzeria brand in the city and to become a cornerstone in the world of Italian dining. Roberto and Giorgia opened Don Antonio by Starita in Midtown West and Kestè Pizza & Vino in the Village. A new Kestè recently opened in Williamsburg and yet another in Wall Street, where Giorgia and Roberto started a pizza school as well, to share the secrets of Neapolitan pizza making. The menu features of course a selection of works of art pizzas prepared with all freshest ingredients a in the Neapolitan tradition. The classic and most representative is of course the buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, arugula, ham and extra virgin oil. Another best seller pizza is the gluten-free Marinara that Giorgia Caporuscio suggests, prepared with tomato sauce, oregano, fresh chop- ped garlic, basil and extra virgin oil. 
     

    East Village
    Risotteria Melotti
    309 East 5th Street
    (646) 755-8939

    Cuisine - All about rise from Verona
    Ambience Cozy
    Price $$

    Nothing identifies the Italian culinary tradition more than pasta, the centerpiece of the Mediterranean diet. It’s more than a food; in fact, it’s almost a way of being. But there’s another important first course that is just as rooted in the Italian culture as is pasta, and that would be rice. From the Alps to the islands, rice dishes are always representative of an Italian region’s flavors, whether more earthy or seafood based. Risotteria Melotti in NYC is the place to have an authentic experience with exquisite Italian rice dishes. Originary from Verona, Veneto, the Melotti family has been producing rice since 1986, focusing specifically on Carnaroli rice and Vialone Nano rice–a medium-grain rice variety typical of the flat, rice-growing areas of the southern Bassa Veronese–Veronese lowlands. Regular rice is simple, while risotto is a full, rich dish that combines rice with different ingredients. That’s what you will find at Melotti’s. The restaurant brings a taste of Isola della Scala in Verona to the East Village, and it offers a wide selection of risotto dishes that are 100% gluten free! The most distinguished dish would defini- tely be the risotto all’Isolana–a typical Veronese dish. It borrows its name from the Isola della Scala where the rice grows. Prepared as the matron of the Melotti’s family Rosetta used to, the dish is cooked with pork loin, fresh pancetta, parmigiano cheese, rosemary and a hint of cinnamon. 

    LOWER MANHATTAN
    Piccola Cucina Osteria Siciliana

    196 Spring Street
    (646) 478-7488

    Cuisine ambience price
    Traditional/Sicilian Friendly
    Price: $$ 

    The success story of Piccola Cucina is the story of executive chef Philip Guardione, a true Sicilian raised in the shadow of Mount Etna. As a child, Philip used to help his grandmother prepare food for the holidays. The traditional, ancient recipes of true Sicilian cooking were passed down from those experienced hands to the ones of the young and talented Philip. This doll-house sized restaurant, which recently opened in New York, has already gained press attention and has catered events for prestigious institutions like the Consulate General of Italy. The polpette della nonna con caponata siciliana (homemade grilled meatballs with Sicilian caponata) are a classic and something you will hardly find anywhere else in the city. Bread, sun dried tomatoes, anchovies, capers, Pecorino cheese from Ragusa, lemon peel, and wild fennel present a big explosion of flavors in a tiny, tasty meatball. Another signature hidden gem of Piccola Cucina’s menu is the ravioli alla Norma, which are stuffed with eggplant in tomato sauce with ricotta cheese. If you feel like having a more casual night out or a quick bite and a drink, be sure to stop by the Piccola Cucina Wine Bar located at 184 Prince Street. There, you can taste exquisite Sicilian wines and delightful tapas like the famous arancini, fried rice balls with a ragù and mozzarella center. 

     

    GREENWICH VILLAGE

    Ribalta
    48 East 12th Street
    (212) 777-7781
     

    Cuisine: Neapolitan & Creative
    Ambience: Ambience
    Price: $$

    If you are looking for the best Italian restaurants in the city, and you’ve never heard of Ribalta, either you haven’t been to New York or you haven’t done your research well. Ribalta is the quintessential Italian restaurant, from the quality of the food to thesense of engagement that restaurant owner Rosario Procino, chef and co-founder Pasquale Cozzolino, and all their staff make you feel. Although New York is full of top qualities Italian restaurants, it is so hard to find a true Italian pizza—one with the right taste, the right size, and one that is made with the right dough and the freshest ingredients. Ribalta fills that void, offering you a true Neapolitan pizza and culinary experience. Rosario himself is Neapolitan, and he moved to New York 13 years ago. Before founding Ribalta, Rosario worked in the corporate world, specifically for Barilla, and then for the famous Italian restaurant Kestè in the village.

    However, Ribalta is the right place to express his Neapolitan heart, not only through food but also through his loyalty to Naples’ soccer team S.S.C. Napoli. Ribalta organizes screenings of Italian soccer matches, a fun way to live an Italian folkloric experience. Rosario is convinced that real pizza is Neapolitan pizza. There’s no other place in Italy, or in the world, where you can taste the real pizza. Chef Pasquale Cozzolino, a Neapolitan who has been making pizza since he was 14 years old, shares Rosario’s vision and turned it into reality. The restaurant’s pasta is also a big hit among clients. The signature pasta dish is the genuine spaghetti al pomodoro— artizan bronze drawn spaghetti with “piennolo” cherry tomatoes, grown in volcanic soil from Mount Vesuvius. As for the pizza, the Margherita STG is the absolute best pizza in New York according to NY Magazine, and it’s the only pizza in the city made with special milk cream from Agerola—a city close to Naples. 

     

    THE BRONX

    Mike’s Deli

    2344 Arthur Avenue
    (718) 295-5033
     

    Cuisine Italian & Italian-American Fusion
    Ambience Friendly
    Price $$

    If you are looking for the authentic scents and flavors of a true Italian neighborhood, you’ll want to take a quick trip up to the Bronx to go visit the Arthur Avenue Retail Market and stop by Mike’s Deli. You’ll be pervaded by the energy of a vivacious and folkloristic southern Italian street-market.

    Mike and David Greco are the owners, and their history dates back to 1929, when Grandfather Gennaro, moved to New York from Naples. Their menu is a unique fusion of Italian-American taste and stellar-quality products. The deli is big on panini; however, that’s not its only delight. Chef David Greco has many signature dishes, but you definitely can’t leave Arthur Avenue without trying his specialty–the famous Neapolitan eggplant parmigiana: sliced eggplant coated in crispy breadcrumbs, covered with homemade marinara sauce and hot mozzarella. The process of breading the eggplant to the point where it’s both crispy and not too oily is a unique Calabrese twist on the recipe. 

     

    UPPER WEST SIDE PICK

    Piccolo Cafe: Typical Bolognese Cuisine and a Legendary Catering Service 

    Piccolo Cafe

    157 3rd Avenue
    (212) 260-1775 

    Cuisine Regional/Emilian
    Ambience Rustic
    Price $$

    More than just a coffee shop and a restaurant, Piccolo Cafe is a trend and a philosophy of dining that is simple, traditional, and delightful. You’ll find only the most healthy, fresh products as well as real Italian espresso and pastries, all in a rustic Italian ambience. But that’s not all you’ll experience at the Cafe’s four locations in the city. Typical Bolognese cuisine is the restaurant’s ace in the hole, and their catering is becoming extremely popular among prestigious New York events like the Sundance Film Festival. Chef Michele Casadei Massari prepares and describes his dishes with a cinematic, passionate verve; movies  are indeed another of his passions. His quintessential dish, traditional tagliatelle with ragù, is, of course, rooted in his beloved Bologna. The ragù is cooked for 5 hours, so the meat does not fall apart, and its proteins don’t split. This ensures that the meat is very rich. It is served with a classic tagliatelle, along with parmesan or onions. This special ragù alla bolognese is the base for the ragù menu including the cotoletta, the traditional lasagna, the goccia d’oro lasagna, and of course, the tagliatelle.

    You will find equally alluring the other three locations of the Piccolo Cafè at 313 Amsterdam Ave, 274 W 40th Street, and238 Madison Avenue. A hyper-energetic man, Michele actually works in all these venues at the same time. The only way to locate him is through Instagram, which he uses compulsively. 

     

    THE JOY OF MIDTOWN WEST

    Exquisite Mediterranean Fusion Cuisine From the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 

    Il Gattopardo 

    13-15 West 54th Street
    212 246-0412

    Not everybody knows that up until the mid 1800s, the southern regions of Italy were united under one reign called the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1860, the Kingdom of Sardinia was annexed to it to. Subsequently, the Kingdom of Sardinia combined with the northern regions of the peninsula in order to form the Kingdom of Italy. Both Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s book The Leopard and Luchino Visconti’s eponymous film depict that crucial and transitional moment in Italy’s history. Rooted in these historic events are three exceptional restaurants that Gianfranco Sorrentino from Naples opened with his wife, Paula Bolla, and partner Executive Chef, Vito Gnazzo, from Salerno: The Leopard des Artistes, Mozzarella & Vino, and Il Gattopardo. Like the other two, Il Gattopardo offers the splendor of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and exquisite Mediterranean fusion cuisine inspired by culinary traditions from Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Apulia, Sardinia, and of course, Sicily. Pasta, vegetables, and cheeses are combined with the freshest seafood. Sorrentino raves, “Vito is like the great Italian wines; he is absolutely becoming better and better with age.” Chef Gnazzo’s signature dish is the famous spaghetti with grey mullet bottarga, garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, and a hint of crushed Calabrian red pepper. 

     

    UPPER EAST SIDE PICK

    San Matteo

    1559 2nd Avenue
    (212) 861-2434
    cuisine Typical/Southern

    Ambience Rustic
    Price $$ 

    Where the Star is the Panuozzo, a Cross Between a Pizza and a Panino Brothers Fabio and Ciro Casella are a cornerstone in the world of New York’s Italian dining scene. San Matteo, their historical restaurant, which brought the best and most enduring traditions of Salerno’s cuisine to the city, is a bona fide little Italy extravaganza. It’s hard to find a more rustic Italian place in the city that serves stellar products and provides hip service. Ciro’s energy and commitment to his job and clients is infectious.

    Incredible Neapolitan pizza pies are a trademark of the restaurant, and they’re baked in an amazing wood-fired oven. However, the undeniable star of the menu is the famous panuozzo from Salerno. Panuzzo is a cross between a pizza and a panino. It starts out similar to a pizza, with the same dough cooked in the oven in a sandwich-form. The bread, with its tantalizing honeycomb- like crumbs, is then opened and filled with cold ingredients. It is sometimes placed back in the oven to heat up the ingredients inside. The most classic panuozzo is the Al Crudo–Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella, baby arugula, and cherry tomatoes.

    Though panuozzo is San Matteo’s trademark, you don’t want to miss the chance to taste the best parmesan in the city at their more casual location Il Salumaio at 1731 2nd Avenue, where you can savor the parmesan in a hot panino. Also on 2nd Avenue you’ll find San Matteo Pizzeria, a Pizza Espresso Bar that combines the pizza from San Matteo and the products of Il Salumaio in a trendy spot where you can also have a bite to eat or a drink of some typical Neapolitan espresso to start your morning with an energy boost. 

  • Executive Chef Rosanna Di Michele
    Facts & Stories

    Donna Margherita. An Italian Home in New York City

    Two blocks from the 2nd Avenue Subway’s 72nd Street station is Manhattan’s latest Italian dining gem, Donna Margherita. Inside this inviting space, the walls are covered with daisies and a classic Vespa sits above the entryway. Up the spiral staircase you’ ll find an intimate dining balcony. The restaurant’s cozy interior is complemented by today’s best Italian music playing in the background. But setting is only one component of the great dining experience at Donna Margherita.

    A Great Team

    At the opening night party, guests got to meet the people who make Donna Margherita possible. Executive Chef Rosanna Di Michele of Abruzzo and owners Pino Manica and Lucia Barletta showed some of their aces in the hole, treating guests to simple yet delicious crostone rus- tico, a killer eggplant parmesan and a mouthwatering lasagna with ragù.

    One of the night’s biggest hits was the pizza. If you’ve never been to visit Italy and are wondering what pizza tastes like in the motherland, Donna Margherita will satisfy your curiosity. Delicious, authentic pizzas are cooked in the oven behind the front counter. Napoli-lovers will be pleased to know the oven is handcrafted by Naples’ own Marra Forni.

    As with any good pizzeria, Donna Margherita offers a wide selection, including children’s pizzas. How did such an authentically Italian joint find itself on Second Avenue?

    The Beginnings

    Before becoming Donna Margherita the space originally housed Golosi Second Avenue, a gelateria & pizzeria owned by Lucia Barletta and Pino Manica. “We’re from Calabria,” explains Lucia, “and came to New York many years ago. In the `70s, my father opened his first restaurant in Calabria. Then he opened another in New York. Eventually we opened eight restaurants in the City. We’ve since sold them. The last one was Trattoria Dopo Teatro in Times Square, but we had others such as Buon Appetito, Cascina, Zanzibar, Cascina Downtown, Golosi Park Avenue, and Golosi Second Avenue, which subsequently became Donna Margherita.”

    Originally, Lucia and Pino Manica planned to turn the place into a full-fledged pizzeria. Then they met Rosanna. “Meeting Rosanna changed things a bit,” says Lucia. “Upon becoming familiar with her cooking, I started to see that I could offer more. There are so many Ital- ian restaurants in New York, but it always seems like something is missing. You find good pizza, but the pasta isn’t cooked the way it should be. Or vice versa. I believe in Rosanna and her way of prepar- ing Italian food. It can be difficult to find original dishes that can only be had in Italian households, and that’s what Rosanna’s cooking is.”

    Home Cooking

    For Rosanna, meeting Lucia and Pino felt like fate. Even the name “Margherita”—one of her daughter’s names—was a good omen! Family is a great inspiration for Rosanna, whose passion for cooking was passed down to her from her parents. She’s able to conserve the tastes of Italy thanks to her use of the freshest ingredients and follow- ing the antique recipes she has been learning to cook in Abruzzo since she was a little girl. There’s a special alchemy between Rosanna and the food she cooks, a mysterious magic that makes you taste the dishes exactly as you would savoir them in Italy, at Rosanna’s home in Vasto.

    Rosanna shared her enthusiasm with us and also revealed the secret behind her cooking: “My secret is love,” she told us, “a true love for my land. That’s what I share here at Donna Margherita. Here, I am able to give some space to the notions about cooking that I brought with me since I was young.”

    So if you’re looking to feel as if you’re in a true Italian household, come on down (or up) to Donna Margherita! The owners, the chef, and the staff will make sure that your dining experience is absolutely delectable. 

    Information:

    Donna Margherita

    1304 2nd Avenue
    (212) 772-1169
     

  • Life & People

    Celebrating Dean Martin: And That's Amore!

    Considered one of the most influential entertainers in history, Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Ohio to an Italian father, Gaetano Alfonso Crocetti, originally from Montesilvano, Abruzzo, and an Italian-American mother, Angela Crocetti. The young Dean would, in fact, speak only Italian, specifically the Abruzzese dialect, until he started going to school at age five.

    Dean Martin: The King of Cool with an Italian Heart

    With Italy in his heart, Martin discovered his musical talent and would eventually become one of the most popular and influential singers, actors, and entertainers of all time. His collaborations are emblazoned in the history of music, from Frank Sinatra with The Rat Pack, to Jerry Lewis, with whom he formed the comedy duo Martin and Lewis. But he collaborated also with other big names such as Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. He was also a popular TV host, The Dean Martin Show is one of the most successful shows of all times. 

    2017 marks the centennial celebration of the star’s birthday, and who better than a true Italian to honor him in New York’s music temple, Carnegie Hall?

    Francesca Capetta: A Rising Star 

    Francesca Capetta, the Italian singer who is gradually making a name for herself in New York as a fresh new Broadway talent, came to the US four years ago all the way from Turin, Piedmont. Although Italy was in her heart, Capetta felt that it was extremely hard to break into the Italian music scene, considering the current status of the Italian music industry. She struggles to turn her passion for singing into a true profession. She did, in fact, graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in economics, but the sacred fire of art never seemed to go out. Talent, destiny, and a bit of good luck cooperated to put back Francesca on the track that she had always wished for. She was chosen for the AMDA–The American Musical and Dramatic Academy–in New York. This was a big turning point in her life, both professionally and personally, as it brought her to be chosen for the Town Hall theater’s show Broadway Rising Stars, directed by Scott Coulter and written by Scott Siegel. From that moment on, her career took off leading her to her first show, which she directed, wrote and performed in all by herself, Francesca Capetta: An Italian in New York in 2016.

    Ambition, determination, and a wholesome dedication to the craft is something that the young singer definitely shares with one of her idols–Dean Martin. Her heartfelt tribute to the American singer took place at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in front of an enthusiastic audience that packed the sold out event.

    An Heartfelt Tribute

    Capetta envisioned the show as a memorial rollercoaster of Martin’s life and career, revisiting some of his biggest hits. Francesca’s acting and singing skills blended together to offer the audience a fully immersive experience into Dean Martin’s world. She narrated stories and anecdotes from his life as well as stories about the composition of and the meaning behind Martin’s songs. Some other exceptional artists took the stage with Capetta to enrich the show that sparkled with talent, emotion, wit, and bit of irony.

    The extraordinary musical director Ian Herman accompanied Capetta and her special guests at the piano. Special acts featured the iconic Tony Award winner Lilianne Montevecchi (Broadway: Nine–Tony and Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical), cabaret singer Stacy Sullivan, and an exquisite chorus.

    The show started with Dean Martin’s first big success, the infamous “That’s Amore,” and continued with the singer’s classics such as “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes,” “I Will,” and “Volare.” “Volare,” which was first performed by Italian singer Domenico Modugno and won the 1958 Sanremo Festival, is one of the most popular Italian songs in the entire world. Martin was one of the first to cover the song in English, turning it into an even bigger success in the US. Capetta did these classics justice with a fresh interpretation, which highlighted her strong musical training and showed all of the colors of her rich voice in between the registers of swing and jazz.

    The Show's Special Guests: Liliane Montevecchi and Stacy Sullivan

    Capetta performed some of her favorites songs as well, such as “Senza Fine,” another Italian classic written by Italian singer-songwriter Gino Paoli for Ornella Vanoni, one of the greatest Italian singers of all time. Francesca also performed Édith Piaf's "Le Vie En Rose,” stating that it was one of the first songs that inspired her to become a singer. Stacy Sullivan also pleased the audience with the elegance of her interpretations; she sang “On the Street Where You Live,” “Blue Moon,” and “Don’t Fence Me.”

    The public was reminded of what a true diva really is when Liliane Montevecchi took the stage. Every single one of her gestures, even before singing, told the history of theater, of movies, and of Broadway with an exciting mix of class, glamour, wit, and a bit of self-irony that made the audience laugh and created an immediate connection between them and the artist. The French-Italian singer, actress, and dancer performed “C’Est Magnifique” and “I Love Paris,” where, at the end, her voice intertwined with Capetta’s. Capetta realized one of her biggest dreams, singing with her idol, Liliane Montevecchi, the Italian singer that Capetta followed and adored since she was a little kid.

    The show exalted Dean Martin’s timeless talent and paid a lovely tribute to the exceptional character that he was, full of irony and a personality that was definitely born for the stage. Francesca Capetta has already proved that she was born for that as well. Her versatile nature as a performer and her warm presence on stage promise to even greater heights of stardom.

     

  • Life & People

    The Modernity of Pizza: A Chat With Luciano Pignataro

    Le Strade della Mozzarella (LSDM) is a traveling culinary congress, which offers an important showcase for Italian gastronomic excellence, from the highest quality products to the greatest chefs. The congress recently stopped in New York for a second consecutive year on June 28/29.

    Two intense days saw a series of product presentations and culinary demonstrations with a particular emphasis placed on one of our most famous dishes in the world: pizza. Many personalities from the world of food were present including chefs, restaurant owners, journalists, and critics who livened up the various meetings and excited the American public.

    Among these individuals was Luciano Pignataro, a writer and journalist who made the popularization of Italian culinary art one of his life missions. We met him at Roberto Caporuscio’s Kestè Pizzeria Wall Street on the second day of LSDM events, where he was the mediator for many presentations of pizza makers and Italian pizzerias who presented their specialties.

    The Status of our Made in Italy

    As Luciano Pignataro highlighted, Le Strade della Mozzarella is an extremely important showcase: “This is the second year that the LSDM is coming to New York. It’s a very important event because New York is home to the whole world and to the Italians, a population of emigrants. We export our Made in Italy here.”

    The authenticity of the Made in Italy has become trendy over the past decade after a period in which not much attention was paid to the integrity of alimentary products, which were oppressed by industrialized production.

    “Authenticity and the healthiness of products were lost a bit,” Pignataro told us, “but for about a decade now, many cultures, not only Italians, are placing value on the authenticity of products. In Southern Italy, where we traditionally have a culture of vegetables, seafood, and olive oil, we have a head start in this sense, and it’s these excellencies that we have the pleasure of promoting at events like LSDM.”

    Southern Italy’s produce constitutes one of the most healthy alimentary regimens in the world. The Mediterranean Diet is our distinctive trait, and when we’re able to export our identity and our gastronomic uniqueness, we attract the attention of some of the greatest nations like America, which is a highly competitive market.

    It’s important to defend this identity because even though it’s unique and distinctive, it can be easy to replicate. As Pignataro affirms: “Pizza and pasta are among some of the most well-known foods in the world, perhaps only Coca Cola is more popular. However, it needs to be understood that pizza can be replicated in styles and forms that are very different from the Italian ones. Spreading authenticity of Italian products is quite a job. This is why events like Le Strade della Mozzarella are necessary.”

    Italian Pizza: A Very Modern Dish

    Pizza in particular is becoming increasingly popular; it’s also becoming more and more of a chef’s dish, subject to various interpretations and experimentation. The distinctive trait of true Italian pizza must not be forgotten, and it also must not be forgotten how the tradition of Italian pizza can be modern. It’s important to understand the fine balance between an artisanal product like pizza, which has a specific history, and the possibilities of its modernization. Perhaps modernity is in the heart of the revitalization of the tradition and in the quality of the ingredients used, ingredients that in today’s complex economy have their own price.

    “Pizza never lived such a beautiful moment,” Pignataro reasoned. “It was previously considered a food of the poor. It doesn’t exist as a word in the Vocabulary of the Accademia della Crusca Italiana, and it doesn’t even exist in the cookbooks of the great Neapolitan authors. In the last ten to fifteen years, there has been a great pizza relaunch. This reintroduction is explained by the fact that pizza makers and entrepreneurs understood that slightly increasing the food cost also meant increasing quality. Changing from seed oil to olive oil costs just 3 cents per pizza. Understanding this reasoning, these 3 cents become 50 cents, and the consumer, knowing that it’s a healthy product, is more willing to pay those 50 cents extra.”

    This is reflected in a question of cultural growth, which clashes with the problem of an economic downturn: “In the Western world and particularly in Italy, for many reasons, there’s an obstructed system. The economic crisis that took place after the collapse of the company Lehman Brothers, caused the middle class, who spent 50 or 60 euro for a traditional restaurant, to almost disappear in Italy, while with 20 or 30 euro, a family can go to a pizzeria, even two or three times a week. This is an economic reason for pizza’s success. Also pizzerias are becoming more elegant and cool. I’m speaking in terms of interior design.”

    Furthermore, entrepreneurs who come from other sectors are investing in pizzerias and employing great architects. This is happening right now in Naples for example, where new pizzerias are regaining some of their traditional decor, which was thought of in order to illustrate Naples through a 360 culinary experience. This immersion is particularly appealing for a foreign clientele.

    Italian Pizza Schools

    In Italy there are various styles of pizza, and not just the Neapolitan one. Each has equally significant traditions like the Roman school and the Venetian school, which are perhaps the two that have pushed the subject of leavening and the lightness of dough, creating well-defined styles.

    “Surely the Roman style is traditionally more consolidated, but the Venetian style with its so-called pizza a spicchi is also, without a doubt, a very interesting interpretation,” Pignataro told us. “However, the model that’s working the most is the Neapolitan one. This is because the Neapolitan model is a model that identifies a specific community. Neapolitan pizza reflects not only the ability of some artisans but it also reflects a history. The Neapolitan dough is also very modern, hydrated, and elastic.

    Pizzas like the Margherita or the Marinara are difficult to change or modernize because in their preparation, ingredients, and toppings, they have a perfect balance of elements that are hard to replicate in other forms. The Neapolitan journalist digressed to discuss pizza traditions to better illustrate this point: “It’s necessary to consider that to end up with Margherita pizza and Marinara pizza, it took two centuries of pizza evolution. They are formulas that are put to the test everyday by tens of thousands of pizzas and pizza makers. The taste of the Margherita is unique. The tomato and the flour with oil are combined in this intense but quick firing, for a minute or more. They find equilibrium and a mix of perfect taste. It’s difficult to find something just as perfect. In fact, the smartest pizza makers leave Margherita and Marinara pizzas unchanged, and they experiment with other pizzas.”

    What about the American Taste?

    There’s no doubt that true Italian pizza that’s professionally cooked and prepared has become very sought-after by Americans. Neapolitan pizza is perceived as an extremely tasty dish. It’s nutritious, light, and goes hand in hand with the new green and healthy taste of modern Americans. It’s also true that this pizza doesn’t exclude the classic American junk food pizza. “The Americans are very pragmatic,” Pignataro reasons. “For example, the other day Rosario Procino from Ribalta (a famous Neapolitan pizzeria in New York) told me that Americans come to him in order to eat authentic Italian pizza that costs a bit more but is high quality. But when the typical American leaves the office on his break for a quick bite, he will still choose his junk food pizza.”

     

  • Pasta with Bottarga
    Dining in & out

    Massimiliano, His Wife Lorella, and a Bite of Sardinia

    “Pane et casu e binu a rasu”— bread, cheese and the glass of wine always full; recites and old Sardinian saying. This immediately gives the idea of what Sardinian cuisine is all about, simplicity, genuinity, and satisfy the pleasures of the senses.

    Eating at San Francisco’s La Ciccia is indeed all about that as well, it gives you a chance to experience the traditional cuisine from Sardinia, home to one of the most ancient Italian ethnicities. With their cuisine, Chefs Massimiliano Conti and his wife Lorella preserved the island’s distinctive style and heritage.

    Two Artisans of Cooking

    “We consider ourselves artisans of cooking. For us, preserving quality and tradition is fundamental. We said that we wanted to create a place where we would personally like to dine, that would have felt like home. And so, we opened La Ciccia out of our love for the beautiful region of Sardinia.” That’s what Lorella Degan told us when we asked her about the decision behind the opening of her family-run restaurant. It started as a small venture and is now celebrating 11 successful years in San Francisco’s vast Italian dining scene.

    Chef Massimiliano Conti, born in Mezzo Campidano, Cagliari, in Sardinia, felt the need to go back to his roots and to do them justice by honoring the traditions of the women in his family.

    Lorella and Massimiliano feel that out of all of Italy’s traditions, Sardinia’s are less known than those of Italy’s other regions, like Sicily. This is probably due to the fact that the island is located far away from the Boot, while Sicily is only a narrow strait away. Historically, the isolation of the region meant it was less influenced culturally by other Italian traditions. That’s one of the reasons why the ancient Sardinian dialect preserved its integrity as a language. It was less “contaminated” by other Italian dialects and less involved in the formation of the unified Italian language. Dining at La Ciccia is, therefore, a fully immersive experience in the Sardinian culture.

    Everything Sardinian

    As Massimiliano says, “We promote Sardinian ingredients, Sardinian wines, Sardinian culture, and we try to promote a Sardinian lifestyle that helps [to] live life in a more sustainable way.”

    Massimiliano and Lorella didn’t leave anything to chance and stayed true to their philosophy: “Trends come and go but traditions stay.” That’s why they decided to write the names of the menu’s dishes in ancient Sardinian and to follow a style of cuisine that is nothing but rustic and organic. They believe in the rituality of sitting together to share a meal, which is not merely a matter of just feeding the body but also of feeding the soul.

    Their kitchen is indeed a soulful one, they use only raw materials and pure extra virgin oil to cook–no greasy sauces, no complex dressings. Thankfully, the Californian territory is rich with raw materials, from the freshness of the meats and the vegetables to the fish cooked fresh off the boat. The pastas are made in-house, except for the ones that are traditionally dry and imported from Italy, like the maloreddu–a Sardinian striped-shell pasta, similar to gnocchetti, often flavored with saffron. Another special pasta from the region is fregula, which consists of semolina dough that has been rolled into balls 2–3 mm in diameter and toasted in an oven, similar to cous-cous. Fregula is typically prepared by simmering it in a tomato-based sauce with clams. During your discovery of Sardinia, you can’t leave La Ciccia without savoring the famous bottarga–a Mediterranean delicacy– usually a pasta dressing with salted and cured fish roe from grey mullet fish eggs. La Ciccia imports these eggs directly from Sardinia’s city of Oristano.

    The glass always full!

    Along with these typical Sardinian products, La Ciccia’s wine list is filled with some of the most ex- quisite wines from the region. Conti started in the food business as a sommelier, and he was the District Manager in D.C. for the Winebow Group, one of the most important Americans wine importers. With the strong belief that “the alchemy between food and wine is an experi- ence that has to be lived in life,” a third of the restaurant’s wine list is dedicated to Sardinian spirits.

    Massimiliano and Lorella select their wines mostly from local, boutique wineries. Of the 180 brands that they have, the Vermentino di Gallura DOCG from Sardinia is one that stands out. This white full-bodied fresh wine is the perfect partner to accompany a good fish-based dish. Other extraordinary wines from Sardinia are the Torbato, a full-bodied wine with distinctive aromas and smoky notes, and the Vernaccia di Oristano, a sweet and dry wine with a curious history. It was believed that consuming ample quantities of wine produced from the Vernaccia grapes was responsible for low instances of malaria in Sardinia.

    Last but not least, at La Ciccia you can experience another Sardinian quintessential elixir–the Cannonau, the king of Sardinian red wines. Cannonau is the Sardinian equivalent of the Grenache grape, which is one of the island’s best grapes. It is a deeply colored, full bodied red wine that routinely maintains alcohol levels around 15%. This wine is a world of spicy wonders to be discovered both in its red or rosè version. Massimiliano and Lorella represent the Sardinian spirit like no one in San Francisco and, we dare to say, in the whole United States.

    Exotic & Genuine
    A Sardinian Language Menu

    La Ciccia’s menu is as exotic and as genuine as it sounds. You will get the chance to learn a bit of the Sardinian dialect by reading it! Here are our favorite options.

    Is Antipastusu e Is Inzalarasa

    (Appetizers and Salads)

    Inzalaredda de acciugasa e arangiu

    Marinated white anchovies, oranges and onions

    Prupisceddu in Umidu cun Tomatiga

    Baby Octopus stew in a spicy Tomato Sauce

    Is Primusu (First Courses)

    Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottariga

    Fresh Spaghetti Spicy Garlic Oil Salt Cured Fish Roe

    Malloreddus a sa Campidanese

    Semolina Gnochetti Pork Bagna Pecorino Sardo

    In Segundusu (Main Courses)

    Gamberoisi Arrustiusu cun Tomatiga Seared Prawns on a Rich Tomato Sugo

    Pratisceddussu (Side Dishes)

    Pani guttiau–traditional Sardinian

    Flatbread baked with extra virgin olive oil and pecorino cheese

    Is Druccisi (Desserts)
    Truta de Arrescottu

    Sardinian Ricotta and Saffron Cake Honey and Toasted Almond

    La Ciccia Restaurant

    291 30th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94131
    b/t Chenery St. & Church St. in Noe Valley

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