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Taking a trip to Salem’s Bella Verona

Elise Balzotti with Giorgio Manzana

Elise Balzotti meets with Giorgio Manzana, owner of Bella Verona restaurant in Salem.

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When I was younger, I assumed that everyone went to their grandparents’ house on Sundays to have lunch. And by lunch, I mean a meal that began around 12:30 with an antipasto (prosciutto and melon and fried zucchini flowers, for example) a dish of pasta, at least four contorni or side dishes, and a second course, all finishing around 4:00 with dessert and caffè. When I was younger I remember feeling confused and then slightly smug when my classmates told me that they ate “meatloaf” or “peanut butter sandwiches” at their grandmothers’ houses for lunch. Poor things. Lunches at my ...

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Falling in Love with Lasagne alla Bolognese


As much as I love living in Rome, my favorite Italian city is not the home of the Coliseum and Piazza Navona, but rather up North, in the land of tortellini, porticos, and la torre Asinelli* – Bologna, Italy. This may seem surprising. After all, Rome is the capital, the Eternal City, one of the most iconic places in the world. Though Bologna may not boast the history and grandeur of Rome, it holds a great amount of sentimental value for me. I spent my junior year of college there, living in a homestay, attending the Università di Bologna, and ...

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Simple and Sweet Greatness: Torta Caprese

Torta Caprese (photo by Francesca Bruzzese)

As much as I ate and enjoyed Italian food when I was younger, I lived with the idea that American desserts were superior to Italian ones. Sure, Italians had cannoli and gelato, but those were nothing compared to raspberry topped cheesecakes, towering chocolate layer cakes and fudgy brownies. There were very rarely surprises and creativity in Italian desserts as far as I could see. The Italian restaurants I went to offered the same list of desserts (panna cotta, tiramisu, the occasional profiterole), and I was slightly disappointed when offered the usual cantuccio or two with coffee after lunch at my ...

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Diving into ‘Secondi’: Saltimbocca alla Romana

Saltimbocca alla Romana (photo by Francesca Bruzzese)

For my first six months in Rome I subsisted almost solely on pizza and pasta. They were, after all, the dishes I had been so eager to sample before my arrival in the Eternal City, the very pillars of Italian cuisine: the hearty and flavorful bucatini all’amatriciana, a pizza margherita larger than the plate it was served on, and creamy cacio e pepe. Any combination of carbohydrates swathed in tomato sauce, cheese or both inevitably ended up on my dinner table. And I’m not in the minority here. Ask anyone what his favorite Italian dish is and you’re bound to ...

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Italian Fishing Tradition Lives on at Peter Zappa’s The Causeway in Gloucester


Discussing Italian food always proves to be quite a curious concept, as conversations tend to invariably focus on what Americans would refer to as “Italian classics,” such as chicken parmigiana, pizza, and tiramisù. But what many fail to recognize is that these foods and fine pastas are not the only rudimentary dishes that encapsulate the Italian diet, but only represent merely a fraction of it. In fact, spanning across the twenty regions that make up the Italian boot and its islands, dishes found in each respectively can be very different. But for most Italians, the Mediterranean isn’t very far away. ...

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Discovering Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Bucatini all'Amatriciana (photo ©Francesca Bruzzese)

One of the best things about moving from Bologna to Rome was discovering a completely new cuisine. After all, Italian cuisine tends to be very loyal to regional tradition: for example, you’ll find lasagna in the North but are hard pressed to find it in the South. Each province’s culinary repertoire is dictated by the climate, seasonal produce, and history of the region among other things. Rome’s cuisine tends to be rustic, hearty, and simple in its ingredients. The use of offal or undesirable cuts of meat is due to Rome’s former abattoir, once the biggest in all of Europe, ...

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An Italian Winter Staple: Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e fagioli (photo ©Francesca Bruzzese)

January has finally produced weather that warrants making the cozy and hearty dishes I so enjoy in the winter. Pasta e fagioli is probably the recipe I make most in this season.

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Petrillo’s Restaurant in Peabody – A Family A-Fare


Welcome to “A Tavola,” Bostoniano’s newest food column, dedicated to taking readers on un giro culinario in search of Massachusetts’ prime locations for authentic Italian cuisine. It seems that Massachusetts is rife with Italian eateries, all of which claim to serve real “Italian classics,” but for experienced foodies and casual diners, alike, finding a spot that encapsulates not only the finest of Italian food, but the Italian experience as well, can be quite the challenge. But we are not only here to stake out hidden gems throughout Boston and its suburbs; we are here to celebrate the triumphs and successes ...

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Sensational Soave Makes a Stop at Brookline’s Ribelle

Soave wine tasting at Ribelle, Brookline.

This month I’m virtually taking you over to the Veneto region of Italy. Over the past month, a new wine friend of mine, Jo-Ann Ross of JRoss Wine, invited me to a “Sensational Soave” Master class held at Ribelle in Brookline, Massachusetts. The class was taught by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and Giovanni Ponchia from the Soave Consortium, Consorzio Tutela Soave, in Italy, and it consisted of a blind tasting of ten different soave wines, followed by an introduction and education on this particular area of the Veneto region of Italy. The event topped off with three courses prepared by ...

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A Tourist in Boston


Living in Boston and having visited the North End hundreds of times, I never felt the urge to take a North End tour. When my friend Michele Topor invited me I figured why not? The three hour tour took us around Boston’s historic Little Italy, into many shops which I’ve visited many times. However, this tour isn’t just about the history of the North End, it’s a Foodie’s heaven. We visited Bricco Panetteria and Salumeria, Alba’s Produce, Maria’s Pastry Shop, Polcari’s spice and coffee shop, Monica’s Salumeria and Hanover Liquors. I grew up Italian and know a lot about food, but ...

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The Magic Culinary Touch of Chef Marisa Iocco


“Cooking is an act of love — an ancient primal gesture,” Executive Chef Marissa Iocco opines. “Like all acts of love, it is deeply gratifying and like all ancient primal gestures, it’s good for the soul.” Executive Chef Marisa Iocco is a cook at heart as well as by vocation, but she doesn’t look the part. Slender, tall, sporty and tanned to perfection, as she sits in the sun on a glorious morning at one of the wooden tables in Old North Square, she could pass for a cyclist on a break. She is, in fact, taking a break — ...

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