When my girl Carla Maravalle opened a new Italian restaurant/grocery store right down the street from my house, I knew it was on. But boy did I underestimate what a crash course I would get in Italian delicacies. I also found myself on Memory Lane more than once, enjoying dishes my late father used to make in the kitchen of my childhood home back in the '80's. That's when I decided to help you all out with some holes you might have in your Christmas menus.
Eggplant Caponata - This was the first dish Carla introduced me to, a sort of chutney really (she may kill me for that). Diced and spiced eggplant, which she suggested I nosh on with a piece of Italian bread, but I now opt to top chicken cutlets with, and then melt a little mozz over the whole thing. After all, you gotta do you, ammi right?
Papi-Cio - Not to be confused with Papi Chulo (although feel free to share with him), this is garlic, potatoes, and cabbage, which Maravalle declares, "blows mashed potatoes away".
Olive Ascolana - Fried stuffed olives from the Marche region. Maravalle is all about her regions, and I washed these suckers down with a nice Sauvignon Blanc. Divine. (The fried tortellini there is no joke, either.)
Cacio e Peppe - Described to me as "the Italian version of mac 'n cheese", it sure as heck is that, but so much more at the same time.
Panzanella Salad - Carla calls this "essentially stale bread diced up with fresh veggies and oil and vinegar". A variation on panecotta, if ya ask VP, and delish at that. Great on the side of a coupla cutlets.
Mozzarella in Carozza - This was a favorite of mine as a kid, especially if dipped in egg and fried up with some white wine, and dashed with peas. Maravalle schooled me with it translating to "mozzarella in a carriage" and making it more like an Italian grilled cheese, ladling tomato sauce on top. (She calls it the "Naples version of a grilled cheese," to be exact.)