Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fantastic Firsts, Chef Marcello Corrado, Casa Del Nonno 13, Mercato San Severino (Sa)

Spaghetti with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and spicy red pepper chili peppers may be one of the most popular classic spaghetti dishes around.  Spaghetti, aglio, olio e pepperoncino contains basic ingredients –  staples available in every kitchen cupboard making it perfect for that late night pasta fix with friends.
I recently had a chance to try Chef Marcello Corrado’s version of this pasta favorite.  Spaghetti, aglio, olio e pepperoncino but with a twist or two...

Spaghetti – check.  
Garlic – check. 
Extra virgin olive oil and pepper flakes – of course.  

And the twists?  Corrado decided to add lumache snails to the mix as  well as a mesmerizing flow of parsley chlorophyll gently poured into the dish table side.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Amazing Appetizers, Chef Marcello Corrado, Casa del Nonno 13, Mercato San Severino (Sa)

I couldn't think of a better way to beat the August heat than visit  Casa del Nonno 13 for lunch.  The Michelin starred restaurant's dining room is located in a cool underground cantina carved out of tufo stones.  I took the drive out to Mercato San Severino to check out some of the new menu items by Chef Marcello Corrado. Like this appetizer -

suckling pig tenderloin...

fresh garden vegetables,

soft creamy  potatoes with bay leaf powder...


Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Pizza or Three a Casa - Casa Vitiello, Tuoro (Ce)

While summer days are meant for the sea, sun and sand the nights are meant for…meant for laid-back leisurely dinners in the company of friends and family.  In Italy, that usually means going out for a pizza at least once a week.  Since I had not had a pizza night in a real long time, I decided to check out a pizzeria outside of my usual rounds.  Something different.  An alternative. I decided to head out to the small town of Tuoro not very far from the Caserta Royal Palace. 

It was there where I met up with Francesco Vitiello, aka Ciccio, the 24-year-old pizza maker, patron, and energetic pulse behind CasaVitiello.  

Francesco Vitiello
This pizzeria has developed a strong devoted following in just a couple of short years and I was about to find out why.   It only took a few minutes for me to get swept up in his enthusiasm as he showed me around the tiny pizzeria whose young cast and crew were   setting up for another packed summer evening. 

He led me over to the counter where I got an opportunity to check out the pasta dough.  Vitiello has been studying and experimenting for years with out of the ordinary combinations – combinations that you just do not see every day. Grano arso/burnt wheat, hemp, turmeric, multigrain, fennel, and even cocoa. 

Customers can choose the type of pizza dough and Vitiello and his staff guide the pizza lover to the right type of toppings to pair with it. How cool is that?

What if you prefer to stick with the classic pizza dough?  No problem!
Time to try it out…but where? During most of the year, there are only have nine tables inside.  Those tables were not there now.  During the summer, Casa Vitiello sets up their dining room across the street in the small town square – 20 tables under the starry summer serata. Tables that were quickly filling up, quite impressive for a Tuesday evening.

Let’s start off with a beer and a focaccia using the classic pizza dough.  Just a little salt, oregano and a summer sunset.  Add a few potato croquettes and then show time. 

I had the chance to try three pizzas that evening starting with a classic margherita pizza topped with San Marzano tomatoes…

Then a pizza with hemp in the dough and topped with fior di latte from Agerola, black pork sausage, and a creamy papacelle Neapolitan pepper sauce.

Room for one more – grano arso pizza dough topped with ricotta cheese, zucchini flowers, and anchovies from Cetara.

In between pizzas, I couldn’t help but notice the family feeling through the small piazza…from the staff to the diners.  Diners who were regulars.  Part of the family.  Those who had been swept up in Vitiello’s enthusiasm…and pizza.  Those who chose to spend a night out for a laid-back leisurely dinner in the company of friends and family, for a pizza under a starry summer serata.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fantastic Firsts, Chef Michele Deleo, Rossellinis Ristorante, Ravello (Sa)

 Let's continue my gastronomical journey that I took last week in Ravello at Rossellinis Ristorante.  It was there where I tried Chef Michele Deleo's La Mia 'Arrabbiata' di Vongole Veraci /My Pasta with Clams and "Arrabbiata' Sauce.  The dish features rigatoni pasta that had been cooked in the water released while the clams were steamed open, then bathed in an Italian parsley sauce.

 So where does the arrabbiata sauce come in?  Arrabbiata literally means angry but in terms of pasta sauces, it means spicy and is prepared with garlic, tomatoes and red chili peppers.  Deleo spiced up sweet datterino tomatoes in a coulis sauce, added burrata cheese, and anchovies.

Check out the plating!  Each rigatoni received its own clam, its own serving of arrabbiata sauce,  and was placed in what I like to think of as its own little valley. The pasta dish came served on a gorgeous glass platter that the chef designed himself!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Amazing Appetizers, Red Mullet alla Norma, Chef Michele Deleo, Rossellinis Ristorante, Ravello (Sa)

Here's an appetizer that not only hits you visually  with its beauty  but also earns high marks for the time, dedication, technique and creativity.  I really enjoyed my time at Rossellinis Ristorante in Ravello and this dish by Chef Michele Deleo is one of the many reasons why.  Red Mullet alla Norma - a take on a popular pasta dish from Sicily.

Pasta alla Norma is a first course that features tomatoes, fried eggplant and grated ricotta salata cheese.  Deleo's appetizer does not include pasta, but red mullet fish.  The fish is stuffed  with pine nuts and raisins and then wrapped gingerly in fried eggplant.  The mullet seems to be floating on top of its ragu sauce that has been scented with wild fennel and a cacioricotta cheese fondant.


Fantastic Firsts, Acquerello Rice, Chef Michele Deleo, Rossellinis Ristorante, Ravello (Sa)

I must admit that when this dish arrived at my table I couldn't help but smile as well as appreciate Chef Michele Deleo's  love and respect for the flavors and products of the Amalfi Coast. The chef's Il Riso Acquerello/Acquerello Rice. The first thing I noticed was the bright yellow color.  That color thanks to the sunny sweet yellow cherry tomatoes from the nearby town of Corbara which the chef used to not only cook the rice in,  but also prepared a soft bed of tomato gelatin for the fresh seafood he delicately placed on top.  Other local specialties include flavorful fior di latte from Agerola and a compote of Amalfi lemons.
A sprinkling of liquirizia di mare on top...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Welcome to Ravello, Welcome to Rossellinis - Chef Michele Deleo, Rossellinis Restaurant, Ravello (Sa)

It was hard for me to ignore the excitement upon my arrival in Ravello, a tiny treasure chest that sits high above the Amalfi Coast.  I took a leisurely stroll through the clean centro storico with its bars, shops, and gardens before I arrived at my destination – Via San Giovanni del Toro 28.  Home to the 5 star Luxery hotel Palazzo Avino, but more specifically, home to the Michelin starred restaurant Rossellinis.

The heat and humidity of the day was soon forgotten as I looked out over the restaurant’s terrace which features a comfortable breeze and  a jaw dropping panorama of the Amalfi Coast.  Forgotten as I sipped on a glass of champagne,  glanced over the menu and soon served Chef Michele Deleo’s benvenuto. The chef’s welcome to Ravello/welcome to Rossellinis.  Twelve powerful packages of flavor, technique, and creativity designed to invite the diner to relax and enjoy what was about to become an incredible gastronomical experience. An invitation served on a custom made wooden tray with stainless steel utensils all designed by the chef himself. 

I gladly accepted his invitation!

Let's take a closer look...

Sea snail with arugula on top of  a fresh citrus gel …

Creamed salt cod, potatoes, and a parsley foam…

Green apple granita and caper powder…

Fried foccaccina with Mangalica pork lard, figs, and fior di latte snowflakes

Red turnips (in osmosis), paprika and smoked herring…

Ballottine of lobster, goat cheese and ginger…

Watermelon, tomatoes confit and sea bass carpaccio…

A craft beer and ginger cocktail alongside a mini tuna burger...

Chicken liver macaron…

Tartlet with butter and Cantabrian anchovies…

Bloody Mary in a mini tomato...

And ecco...
Benvenuta a Ravello, benvenuta a Rossellinis!

Thanks, chef!  I think I'll stick around for awhile