Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sweet Surprises in a Dolce Dessert by Chef Salvatore Bianco

Tuesday night is not usually my night to go out.  But this evening was different...designed to be a little special.  An evening of pizza and champagne - a four hands dinner put on by pizza maker and host Salvatore Salvo, Pizzeria Salvo and Michelin star chef Salvatore Bianco, Il Comandante Ristorante...

Salvo and Bianco

Salvatore and Salvatore for gli amici/friends...

And after a series of 5 pizzas and paired perfectly with 5 different champagnes chosen by sommelier Pasquale Brillante ...

I assumed the evening as over.  It was late, it was a school night, and I must admit, was a little sleepy thinking about the forty-five minute drive home. I did have one question at the back of my mind.  How were they going to close the evening? Maybe featuring  Salvo's fried zeppole?  I really wasn't sure.  I was sure of one thing, however.  That Chef Bianco was nowhere to be seen.  I mean, he wasn't strolling around the dining room speaking about the evening's creations.  That was  Salvo's job so to speak.  So Bianco???
I soon found out.  Bianco decided to surprise us all as we soon learned while sommelier Brillante spoke about a particular wine close to my heart.  A dessert  wine made with Aglianico grapes (noble rot) by Mastroberardino - vintage 2010.

My mind shot back instantly to my first vineyard visit to Montemarano in the hills of Avellino.  Then out came the dolce.  Simple spectacular  and meticulous...Like the chef himself.

He chose chocolate...white chocolate.  Strawberries ('tis the season), red wine, lime and puffed kamut.  A single flower set on top.

A sweet surprise...
Grazie, Chef!!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

1, 2 Fantastic Firsts, Chef Vincenzo Piacente, Ristorante Gio' Ponte, Sorrento (Na)

Back to Sorrento-back for another visit with Chef Vincenzo Piacente, the Executive Chef at Hotel Parco dei Principi. 24 hours before beach season...but not too early to enjoy the sun from the terrace of Ristorante Gio' Ponti. And definitely just in time to try the chef's new dishes for the spring 2016 season.

Piacente is from Gragnano- the city of pasta - so it was no surprise to see candele pasta, broken by hand on the menu.  Refreshing to see this forte pasta with a delicate sauce instead of the usual ragu'.The chef served his candele pasta with fennel and mantis shrimp.

And to keep the lunch a light one, the chef prepared a homemade ravioli stuffed with burrata cheese and ricotta cheese.  He then added sweet spring peas and powdered baked ham/prosciutto crudo.


Friday, April 29, 2016

When Napoli Meets Japan - Romeo Bar, Romeo Hotel (Na)

When you're a local, you may not have a hotel restaurant or bar  on your top ten lists of places to dine.  But if you live in or near Naples, you probably do...or at least should.  Romeo Hotel - Napoli's only 5 star luxury hotel which boasts a Michelin star Restaurant - Il Comandante.  I've visited the hotel on several occasions, here, here , and here and have always been pumped about how the hotel continues to evolve searching for new and innovative ways to keep their guests and locals like me interested and intrigued.  So  what's up?  I found out last week during an evening at Romeo Bar entitled When Napoli Meets Japan.  A location to relax before, after or during dinner for 8 mille idee- 8 thousand ideas  including spaghetti 'mbuscinatto and sushi & tartare.

Sushi isn't new here...neither is spaghetti - but Romeo Bar has decided to fuse the two cuisines together in one place - un posto - for a unique dining experience.  So here's a look at what I tried Thursday evening ...

A taste of  Napoli by Michelin chef Salvatore Bianco ...

 and a slice of Japan by Sushi Chef Mariko Watanabe...

Romeo Bar
Cocktails, drinks and tasty snacks.
Every day from 3 pm to 12 am.
Sushi, soup, tartare and spaghetti.
From 7 pm to 11 pm. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Appetizers on the Beach, Chef Francesco Sardegna, Ristorante Marina Grande (Sa)

In Campania, the sun rarely looks at the calendar to decide when to come out and play.  And that's a good thing for those off season tourists like me who prefer hitting the winding roads of the Amalfi coast before the heat of the summer. I chose a Saturday afternoon for my trip to Amalfi...for my lunch prepared by Chef Francesco Sardegna and his brigade at Ristorante Marina Grande

Warm sunny sunshine. Great. 
A table on the terrace overlooking the beach.  Perfect
Three amazing appetizers. Even better. 

Number One:

Sauro in poke, tarallo, puttanesca sauce. citrus yogurt and, burrata cheese

Number Two:  

Three scallops wrapped in-wait for it-bacon...and a third little bundle of fried mozzarella in carozza.  All on top of a playful rubic's cube made with zucchini and yellow bell peppers.

Number Three:  

Roasted octopus and barley salad.

Lunch on the beach???
Who say's you've got to wait for summer!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pigeon in “ Terre di Siena” Crust -Chef Vincenzo Guarino, Il Pievano Ristorante (Si)

Gaiole in Chianti in the heart the Siena province is about 459 km from my driveway.  And that's a long way to go for lunch.  But I packed my bag and put it in my car along ith my camera, computer and teenage son and headed the five hour or so drive from seaside of Campania to the hills of Tuscany.  

My destination?  Castello di Spaltenna - a 5 star luxury resort, home of Il Pievano Ristorante where Campanian born and raised  Vincenzo Guarino has been serving as Executive Chef since the beginning of March.  Campanian chef-there's the connection.  
I've known the chef for several years and as more than curious to see what he was up to and try some of his new dishes...and I needed a weekend to do so... or at least 36 hours.

Chef Vincenzo Guarino
So after a little catching up, a quick tour of the facilities and an awesome chat about his plans (details soon), I decided to take a break until dinner...

A dinner which featured Guarino's , Pigeon in “ Terre di Siena” Crust.  As if the chef was saying 'Karen, here's Siena through my eyes'.  

The dish included a perfectly pink pigeon with a flavorful coating.  A variation of colorful orange and violet carrots, shallots fermented in Chianti wine (of course) ,and a Vin Santo sauce drizzled on top.