Puglia: Frugality & Abundance. Puglia, at the heel, highlights the desirable qualities of Italian life that draws us all to this amazing country. It is scattered with Baroque architecture, pristine wilderness and wonderful beaches, charming villages, olive and citrus groves, underground caves and Roman ruins. Puglia’s agricultural heritage and enviable coasts make it the perfect place for great food. Ironically, this is “cucina povera,” though rich in produce and ingredients. Here there is a straightforward and practical attitude towards food. Its cooks are creative and have an enormous capacity of making something out of nothing.
Florence in June – Bitter Rivalries & Sweet Elixirs. June in a wonderful month to visit Florence. It is a month when pagan and Christian rites combine to celebrate colorful sporting events, Renaissance parades, and ancient culinary traditions. Calcio Storico is a well-kept Florentine secret; Medieval-style soccer played in typical Renaissance garb. Think rugby meets cage-fighting with pantaloons. Not only does June 24th mark the birthdate of Florence’s patron saint, John the Baptist, it is the day to harvest soft green walnuts to make the spicy “digestivo,” Nocino. Florentine cuisine today is earthy and rustic much like it was as the time of the Renaissance. The “Trattoria” is the keeper of these culinary traditions, the equivalent of Nonna’s cooking. Our menu this...
Sicilian Paradiso. Because of its strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean, Sicily attracted numerous invaders, all leaving their mark on local cuisine. It is simple food, “cucina povera,” but immensely rich in ingredients, giving us some wonderfully flavorful options for our summer Sicilian menu. Fruits and vegetables are abundant. Eggplant, fennel, tomato, citrus, peaches, pistachios, almonds, olives, ricotta and swordfish are all featured. Though agriculturally rich, Sicily has suffered under the weight of adversity. Internationally acclaimed film, Cinema Paradiso, offers a particularly poignant glimpse into post war rural life – still amazingly relevant today. We think it is an enriching addition to this week’s menu, creating an authentic Sicilian experience.
Emilia-Romagna: Heartland of Ingredients. Think of your favorite Italian ingredients…pasta, olive oil, parmesan, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and cured meats. These are the cornerstones of Italian cuisine and they are what make Emilia-Romagna one of the most important gastronomic regions of Italy. Italians have an innate sense of place. Land is of upmost importance as the source of ingredients for their century’s old recipes. It is the root of their heritage and their cuisine – an expression of local values. This week’s menu showcases these mainstays and more of Italian regional cooking and brings me back to some fun memories as a young American roughing it in the Italian Apennines.
The Big Night! "In love and life, one big night can change everything." Just like in the film "Big Night," the Ricchi's had the opportunity to serve a dinner that would forever change the trajectory of their lives. Only after a month of opening their Tuscan restaurant, newly inaugurated President George Herbert Walker Bush came to dinner, creating a media buzz that would firmly establish them as Washington's newest authentic Italian restaurant. This week's menu highlights i Ricchi dishes that were relatively unknown when they opened in 1989, but which have become customer favorites.