Thursday, February 9, 2012

Il Fornaio's Festa Regionale: La Cucina Del Lazio

I'm continually singing praises of Il Fornaio, and here I go again.  This month's Festa Regionale Menu featuring the food and wine of Lazio, was created by Giuseppe Naccarelli, Vice President of Kitchen Operations.

We missed the Tuesday Night Tasting last month (Lombardia) due to travel, so I was delighted when our monthly invitation arrived for this tasting. Mom filled in as my date this week while John attends an annual convention in Florida.

We were seated in the private dining room at the east end of the restaurant, with gorgeous nighttime views of the city and bridge. Jennifer joined us at the family table, while Lyrra skillfully and beautifully narrated our journey through some of Lazio's most famous dishes.

The wine pairing featured a white wine from the Pietra Porzia estate, located just outside of Rome (Frascati, Pietra Porzia "Regillo" 2010) - medium-bodied with intense aromas of citrus and pear; fresh and lively on the palate with a dry nutty finish, and a red blend from two varieties native to the region (Cesanese del Piglio, Colle Ticchio, Corte dei Papi, 2010) - medium-bodied, full-flavored, brimming with intense aromas and flavors of ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit, black pepper and nutmeg spiciness.

For our Zuppe e Antipasti, we sampled lightly grilled hearts of romaine topped with shaved pecorino pepato and Il Fornaio house dressing. Lightly grilling the lettuce lends a subtle smokiness.  Two soups, and a Roman-style gnocchi are also offered.


For the pasta course, we enjoyed a whole wheat ravioli filled with Swiss chard, spinach, ricotta and pecorino cheese, topped with field mushrooms and organic cherry tomatoes.


Bucatini all' Amatriciana, probably the most well known dish from this region, is one of the four pasta courses on the menu.  I just featured this pasta in a recent blog post, here, and plan on making a double or triple batch of the all' Amatriciana sauce this weekend for our That's Amore dinner party, so I have plenty to freeze for leftovers.

Il Fornaio's sauce is prepared with the traditional pork guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig's jowl or cheeks), in a lightly spiced tomato sauce with basil, onion and Calabrian peperoncino, tossed with percorino cheese, and served over bucatini.

In addition to narrating, serving, and keeping our wine glasses filled, Lyrra subbed in as my photography and styling assistant, offering to grate some Parmigiano over the top as I photographed this amazing pasta.


While John and I normally gravitate toward the pasta dishes when we frequent the bar at the Il, this slow-braised oxtail, simmered in a savory broth with root vegetables, was melt-in-my mouth amazing.  We also had a tasting of the Salmone Ostia Antica - roasted salmon with fresh asparagus, artichokes, capers and lemon, served with sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes.

Two additional Secondi courses are featured - Veal Saltimbocca and Mixed Grill (game hen, rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, and Calabrian sausage).


Definitely save room for the dolci of the evening - Kahlua and coffee mousse with pieces of sambuca-soaked sponge cake, chocolate coffee beans, and lingue di gatto ("cat's tongue") cookies. Lyrra magically appeared again, with a snifter of white sambuca to complement the styling. Of course, I couldn't let it go to waste after packing up the camera.

Giuseppe truly created an incredible menu this month, and we are fortunate to be guests of the Il Fornaio family for these Tuesday Night Tastings.  The Lazio menu is offered through February 19.


Mom said...

Beautiful photography. Amazing food and wine. Gorgeous views and delightful crowd. Everyone will enjoy this phenomenal cuisine. Thanks for making me the Lucky Mom once again.

Carmen said...

Whoa! This looks amazing... must get myself to Il Fornaio!

Anonymous said...

Great photos as always and this region was definitely my favorite so far!

- Jen

Lyrra said...

Oh, Denise.... This is just wonderful! I enjoyed serving/assisting you; and seeing you today on the front patio! What a delight! Your blog is simply fantastic, and I look forward to next month!