"In Italy, all cooking, like politics, is local," Maureen Fant and Howard Isaacs wrote in the introduction to their Dictionary of Italian Cuisine. "But unlike politicians, cooks are expected to get palatable results to the table while they're hot, without rhetoric." The difficulty is that Italian cooks come from many different places and speak many different culinary languages that all add up to Italian cuisine. That's how a team of chefs as diverse as those we have assembled for this dinner can come together to produce an exceptional event. From Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, these Great Italians are going to prepare one great Italian meal.
Salvatore Esposito's claim to producing the only authentic Neapolitan pizza in New York City at La Pizza Fresca ain't no pie-in-the-sky. Made in accordance with the standards established by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, a governing body in Italy, his pies are thin, chewy, and flavorful. But a chef cannot establish a reputation for "stunning food"(quoth The Unofficial Guide to New York) on pizza alone. This Italian-born chef, who learned to cook in Naples and Milan, makes magic with pasta and other traditional dishes too, "just like Over There," as the Guide put it.
The taste of Italian desserts has largely been established in Italy and abroad by Bindi, the company that promises "fantasy through dessert." Based in Totowa, New Jersey, the American operations are under the purview of Ruggero Pucci, who oversees the company's commitment to quality, established back when Attilio Bindi opened his original pasticceria on Via Larga in Milan in 1946. Little has changed since then in terms of using the finest ingredients for the most delicious results.
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Paul Rafala began his career with the Carbone Restaurant Group as a broiler cook. He left to pursue other culinary experiences but couldn't pass up the chance to return as executive chef in 1993. One of the restaurants under his control is Carbone's, in Hartford, Connecticut, where chef de cuisine Mike McDowell commands the stoves. Together, they ensure that the true taste of Italy is preserved in the popular restaurant.
Completing this group of Italian culinary diplomats is Michael Veres, recently named executive chef of Tucson's award-winning Daniel's. A Tucson native, Veres began his professional career at Daniel's under Daniel Scordato. His next position, at the local Sheraton El Conquistador Resort, won him the title of apprentice of the year. Veres then moved to Dallas, where he spent time in the top kitchens of The Laurels and The Mansion on Turtle Creek. His commitment to freshness and quality, demonstrated in the greenhouse he operates near the restaurant, resounds in his seriously flavorful fare.
Polenta con Funghi
Crostini di Struzzo Affumicato
Risotto agli Asparagi
Mafalde al Ragù di Coniglio alla Cacciatore
Arrosto di Vitello Farcito con Funghi e Spinaci
Torta all' Amaretto con Crema di Nocciole