Monthly Archives: March 2018

Keste Wall Street: Happy Hour Italiano

A glass of wine or a drink in a cafe or wine bar in Italy typically brings with it an assortment of finger food.  Now, Roberto Caporuscio  is following this custom at his Keste Wall street location. He calls it “Happy Hour Italiano” and it takes place Monday to Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.  Nine red wines and seven white wines are offered by the glass. The more expensive the wine the more and better finger food you will get.

The assortment might include focaccia, miniature rice balls, fried burrata, tuna stuffed peppers, and more.  If you order a bottle of wine you might get all of them.

Roberto talking about his Sfincione

When I arrived at Keste recently Roberto took me to where he was making the sfincione and explained to me how it was made and how high the dough had risen once it was baked. Sfincione is a Sicilian style pizza with a thick crust and topped with onions, tomato sauce, cheese and anchovies.  It was very tasty and I limited myself to one piece because I know there was a lot more to follow.

The Sifincione

Peppers stuffed with tuna and anchovies

Potato Croquettes 

Fried Buratta 

Arancini (rice balls)

Frittatine – Fried Pasta

Mortadella and Pistachio Focaccia 

Stracchino Focaccia from Liguria – Very light focaccia made without yeast.

Cheeses: Moliterno and Cacio Sarno

Pizza with Mortadella and Robiola Della Bufala

The picture which did not come out- Pizza with Gorgonzola, Cranberry, Dry Figs and Stracchino

Salame dried in house

Come for the appetizers and wine, and remember Roberto makes Great Pizza!



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The Wines of Paolo and Noemia D’Amico

Paolo E Noemia D’ Amico Winery.

When I was planning my last trip to Rome, Tony Di Dio of  Tony Di Dio Selections suggested that I visit the Paolo E Noemia D’Amico Winery since it is only an hour and fifteen minute drive from Rome.  But the weather is Rome this February was rainy, cold, and one day it even snowed, so we never made arrangements to go to the winery.

When we returned home Tony invited me to a lunch at Il Gattopardo Restaurant with the wines of D’Amico.  The speakers were Paolo D’Amico, Chairman of the winery, and the agronomist and enologist Guillaume Gelly.


Paolo D’Amico

Paolo said he comes from a ship owning family but always had a passion for wine and wine making. His wife, Noemia, was born in Rio de Janeiro but her family is originally from Porto in Portugal. She worked for Maison Christian Dior for ten years. Noemia shared the same passion as Paolo for wine.  Paolo said that he and Noemia founded the winery in 1985 with just 5 hectares and today they have 35 hectares of vineyards.

The wine cellars are located in Vaiano, Castiglione in Teverine (VT) near the unique town of Civita di Bagnoregio, in a part of Lazio that overlaps Umbria. Paolo said the estate dates from the 16th century.


Guillaume Gelly

Guillaume spoke about the wines. He said the wines are influenced by the ancient volcanic soil of Vaiano and this is why the wines have very nice minerality. The cellar is carved from the local volcanic tufa rock.

Paolo referred to the cellar as a library designed by his wife and the architect Luca Brasini where the finished wines are stored to the sound of classical music. The cellar is under hanging gardens decorated with modern sculptures from different eras. There is also a tower on the property which dates from the 13th Century called “Torre del Sole” that was built on Roman foundations.  Paolo showed a video of the estate and it was very impressive. Next time I am in Rome I will make arrangements to visit.



Noe DPO 2016 Orvieto made from Grecgetto, Trebbiano and Pinot Grigio. The vineyards are located in Umbria on the border between Tuscany and northern Lazio at 480 meters. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 5 months. After about 1 month in bottle the wine is released for sale. This is a balanced fruity wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, good acidity and nice minerality. Gauillaume said the name of the wine comes from part of Paolo’s wife’s name Noemia. 

Calvanchi Di Vaiano IGP Lazio 2015 made from 100% Chardonnay. Guillaume said this wine and the Falesia come from the same vineyard. The difference is in how they are vinified. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine does undergo malolatic fermentation. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks and 3 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant, full-bodied wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit and a hint of apricot and good minerality. I asked Guillaume how he was able to make a wine with so much body and flavor without oak and malolactic fermentation. He said the wine was on the lees for a long period of time and this is what gives the wine its character. This is an excellent food friendly wine. 

Falesia IGP Lazio 2016 made from 100% Chardonnay. This wine is fermented in French barriques and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It spends a long time on the lees. Then the wine is aged for 10 months in new and used barriques and five months in barrel before release. This is an intense and complex wine with hints of ripe fruit and touches of honey, butter and almonds.

With the two Chardonnays we had organic farro salad with poached fresh tuna, sautéed artichokes and baby kale.

Notturo dei Calanchi” 2012 PGI Umbria 100% Pinot Noir from a two hectare vineyard at 550 meters. Cold maceration lasts for 5 days. The wine is aged for 10 months in French barriques, 30% new and 70% used and another 10 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant fruit forward wine with hints of red fruit, a touch of cherry, and violets. I was very impressed by this wine. Guillaume mentioned that the winery overlooks the Calanchi Valley.

Pasta “Genovese” Paccheri tossed with a sauce of pork ribs, white wine and sweet onions

“Atlante” Cabernet Franc 2012 PGI Umbria made from 100% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard has a southern exposure and the grapes are hand harvested in October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 20 days. The wine is aged in French barriques for 10 months 70% new and 30 % used and 10 more months in bottle before release. This is an intense complex wine with hints of black fruit, cinnamon and spice. It has a very long finish.

It was a perfect combination with the pan-seared veal loin scented with fresh thyme, served with fingerling potatoes and porcini mushrooms.

For pictures of the estate and the library(cellar) visit their web-site



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Making Pasta at Grano and Farina in Rome

by Michele Scicolone

“No machines allowed here!” announces the website description of the Northern Italian Pasta class at Grano & Farina cooking school in Rome. Julia Griner, who co-owns the school with her husband Pino Ficara, a chef, teaches how to make egg-based pasta using a more than yard long rolling pin like a traditional sfoglina, pasta maker, from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Since we were on our way to Rome, a friend of ours introduced us to the couple via email, and we met at one of our favorite Roman wine bars. Julia and Pino told us that they had recently opened their school in the Trastevere neighborhood and invited us to attend a class. Charles couldn’t make it, but I was delighted to go. Though I often make homemade pasta, I generally use a pasta rolling machine. This was my chance to learn the art of hand-rolled pasta from a pro.

Pasta Boards and Rolling Pins at Grano & Farina

Julia began the class by describing what we would learn. There were two other students and we would each make our own batch of pasta and roll it into 3 different shapes: fettuccine, pappardelle and garganelli, which look like penne with ridges. Julia spoke about the tools we needed including that 110 cm rolling pin, a large wooden board, and a small gnocchi board with a dowel for rolling garganelli.

Julia told us that the rolling pins and pasta boards we were using had been custom made. The pins were made of beech wood which tends not to warp and will roll out the pasta evenly. Not exactly the old broom handle grandma might have stored behind the kitchen door! The boards, which are used only for pasta, are made of poplar or linden woods which are soft and porous. This helps the pasta develop the right texture.

Roman Artichokes

After kneading, our pasta dough needed resting and we set it aside wrapped in plastic to relax. Then Pino took over. In the cooking area, we began working on the sauces for the pasta. Garganelli with Artichoke Sauce used the beautiful long stemmed Roman artichokes that are in season right now, and the Fettuccine Carbonara, made with eggs, guanciale and grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano is an icon of Roman cooking. We trimmed the artichokes and stewed them with white wine, lemon, and garlic. For the carbonara, we trimmed the guanciale, cured pork cheek, and prepared the eggs and cheeses.

While the artichokes simmered, we returned to our pasta boards and Julia demonstrated the rolling technique. We learned how to maneuver the rolling pin to stretch and press the dough out by moving our hands along the pin as we rolled and rotated the dough. The goal was to keep the pasta round, silky smooth, even and in one piece. With lots of coaching and guidance from Julia, we all managed to achieve thin and mostly round sheets of pasta.

Julia Griner, la sfoglina


We cut the fettuccine with a knife and Julia showed us her technique for shaping it into “nests” to dry. Then we cut out squares of pasta that we rolled on the gnocchi boards for the garganelli.

Making garganelli on a gnocchi board


The sauces were quickly finished, and the pasta cooked in minutes. We all sat down to a 2-pasta lunch with wine.

Garganelli with Artichoke Sauce at Grano & Farina


What makes hand rolled pasta so special? It has a different “bite” to it than machine made pasta. It is more substantial and chewy, plus it holds the sauces better.

The class was fun and informative. Julia and Pino are knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects and eager to share their information with the students. I really appreciated how well organized they were, something that is often overlooked. In addition to pasta classes, their program includes a wine range of courses in pizza and bread making, butchery and of course pastry. Pino trained as a pastry chef in Paris and worked at some of the top restaurants there and in New York.  Classes are offered in English, French and Italian.

Next time I am in Rome, I look forward to taking another class at Grano & Farina. Cornetti, anyone?



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Castello delle Regine: Chianina Beef and Wine

Michele and I have know Livia Colantonio and Paolo Nodari, founders of Castello delle Regine winery, for a long time but have not visited the winery in a number of years. The winery is just outside the town of Orte in Umbria, only 30 minutes by train from Rome. On our recent trip, Livia invited us to visit the winery and taste the wines over lunch.

The property covers 400 hectares overlooking the valley that has been called for centuries the “Valley of the Queens,” located between the towns of Narni and Amelia.

Livia said the soil of the hills is sandy clay, the exposure is north-south and there are 5.000 to 6,000 vines per hectare

. They follow sustainable agriculture rules with low environmental impact. She said they use only natural fertilizers and the 200 hectares of forests surrounding the vineyards provide a microclimate favorable to prefect ripening of the grapes, with temperature excursions between night and day.

The consulting oenologist is the very respected Franco Bernabei.

In addition to the winery, the estate includes an agriturismo with comfortable apartments and a top flight regional restaurant featuring products from the estate.


Sparkling Rose NV made from Sangiovese and Montepuliciano using the Charmat Method (the second fermentation takes place in a large closed pressure tank).

This is a wine with hints of strawberries , raspberries and a hint of citrus. Great way to begin lunch.

Bianco delle Regine 2016 made from 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Riesling and 10% Pinot Grigio. Harvest takes place by hand in the middle of August. Each grape variety is vinified separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 75 HL. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve its freshness. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of citrus fruit with a touch of lime and good acidity.

Our first appetizer was marinated Chianina beef rump served with a mix of salad and kataifi, shredded filo pastry for crunch.

This was followed by scrambled eggs with truffle and asparagus

Rosso di Podernovo — 80% Sangiovese, from 30 year old vines, 10% Montepulciano and 10% Syrah from new plantings at 90 to 280 meters with a south/west exposure from the Podernovo estate. Harvest is from the end of September into October. Maceration is in stainless steel tanks 50 to 110 HL with daily pump over for 14 to 18 days. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier tonneaux and in oak botti of 25 and 15 HL. The wine remains in bottle for 8 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit with hints of cherry, violets and a touch of spice. This is an excellent food wine.

We enjoyed it with Ravioli filled with pumpkin and hazelnuts with a sauce of veal jus.

Princeps 2005 made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon from 15 and 20 year old vines, 20% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese, vinified separately. Harvest is by hand the last week of September into October. Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with daily pumping over for 14 to 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in French Allier barriques and then in bottle for a minimum of 24 months before release. This is a complex wine with hints of cherry, licorice and tobacco and a long finish. The wine was showing no signs of age.

Pasta with spicy Chianina ragu. Homemade tagliolini in a sauce made from the farm’s Chianina cows.

Selectione del Fondatore 2005 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso from a special selection of 40-year-old vines. The vineyard is south-southwest at 280 meters. Harvest is by hand from the end of September into October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 110 HL for 14 to 18 days with daily pumping over. The wine is aged in French barriques for 12 months and for a minimum of 36 months in bottle before release. This is complex and full-bodied wine with hints of blackberries, cherries and a touch of balsamic.

Roast lamb with vegetables from the garden.

Sangiovese Passito – red dessert wine made from 100% late harvest Sangiovese grapes. The grapes are dried (appassimento) on trellises. The wine is aged in small French oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years before release. This is one of the best I have ever tasted. It has hints of black fruit with notes of blackberries and blueberries, a very long finish and a fantastic aftertaste. As is the tradition in Umbria, it could also go with lamb on Easter.

Cake stuffed with cardamom cream and glazed with chocolate and Cointreau.

The end of a great lunch

After lunch we took a tour of the estate, and went to see the Chianina cattle. Livia said they are one of the oldest, tallest and heaviest breeds of cattle. The cows are raised in a semi-wild state. There are approximately 250 animals divided into four herds and they live on 40 hectares devoted to pasture and forests. Chianina cows originated in the area of the Valdichiana, from which they get their name.

Before we left Livia took us on a tour of the wine cellar.




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Join Us for Lunch in Rome, Next Course – Dessert

Join Michele and I in Rome for Lunch. The next and last course is Dessert

Some mornings we would stop for cappuccino and a warm cornetto, like this one at Cafe Ruschena.  It’s stuffed with ricotta and chocolate chips.

Fragolini del bosco, small wild strawberries, were just coming into season.  They have a wonderful floral aroma and go great with a scoop of gelato.

At La Tavernaccia, the dessert of the day was a cake filled with ricotta and pears.This nut and honey tart is a specialty at La Colline Emiliane.

Pine nut cake at Due Ladroni.

Caramelized pear upside down tart at Colline Emiliane.

Michele’s favorite place for gelato is Ciampini in Piazza in Lucina. This one is strawberry and fior di latte.

This was the Neapolitan Pastiera di Grano at I Due Ladroni.  

At ll San Lorenzo I had Sfogliatella and two other deserts.

At Armando al Pantheon, biscotti and a cup of espresso is a perfect way to end the meal.




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Join Us for Lunch in Rome, Next Course – Il Secondo

Join Michele and I for lunch in Rome. The next course is Il Secondo

At Due Ladroni, I saw someone at the next table order these.  They looked and smelled so good, I had to have them too.  Grilled langoustines.

At La Campana, I had grilled mazzancole, big red shrimp.

Also at Due Ladroni, these were mazzancolle with potatoes and artichokes.

At La Torricella, we shared a whole fish roasted with potatoes, tomatoes and olives.

Baccala in Tomato Sauce with pine nuts at Cesare al Casaletto.

Fried seafood at Il San Lorenzo.

Roast pork with potatoes and rosemary at La Tavernaccia

Michele had rabbit braised with white wine and olives at Checchino dal 1887

Roast Lamb with Potatoes at Checchino dal 1887

Chicken alla Romana with Peppers at La Campana

Grilled Liver at Checchino dal 1887
Abbacchio alla Scottadita, Grilled Baby Lamb Chops, at Armando al Pantheon

And that very special bottle of wine!





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Join Us for Lunch in Rome–Next Course: Pasta

Join Michele and I in Rome for lunch.  Our next course is Pasta.

Bucatini all’Amatricana This is my favorite pasta and no one does it better than Checchino dal 1887

Pasta with sea urchin at Il San Lorenzo

Pasta with White Boar Ragu from La Tavernaccia

Spaghetti with Lemon, Arugula and Parmigiano at Armando al Pantheon

Tagliolini with Culatello at Colline Emiliane

Pasta alle Vongole at Da Cesare al Casaletto

Pasta all’Amatriciana the way Michele likes it (with mezze maniche) at Da Cesare

Pasta with Sea Bas at Due Ladroni

Paccheri with tuna ragu at Due Ladroni 

Farro Linguine with Anchovies at Il San Lorenzo

Spaghetti with homemade cherry tomato sauce

Ravioli with Zucca at Castello delle Regine Winery

Michele’s hand made from Grana & Farina Cooking School with Olive Oil, Parmigiano and Black Pepper

Fettuccine with Spuntatore and Salsiccia — spareribs and sausage at La CampanaTagliarini with Ragu di Coda alla Vaccinara at Checchino dal 1887

Next time Secondo

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Join Us in Rome for Lunch-Antipasto

Join Michele and I for lunch in Rome.  Here are some of our favorite antipasto choices.

Deep fried Zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella. I could eat these every day and order them when ever I see them on the menu. These are from Il Matriciano

These I order when ever I go to Armando al Pantheon.  It consists of bruschetta, toasted bread, topped with a quail egg and black truffle shavings and another with lardo and a walnut.  The lardo melts onto to the toast.

Fried Anchovies- -I love fresh anchovies and they fry them to perfection at Cesare al Casaletto.   They are totally different from the canned variety.

Fresh anchovies again, these are marinated with olive oil, parsley and a little garlic at La Torricella.

La Tavernaccia also makes creative bruschette for an antipasto.  We share this trio which included lardo with a dribble of honey on warm toast with olive oil.  The middle one is topped with grilled artichokes, aged pecorino and balsamic vinegar.  The one at the top of the photo is topped with ciausculo, a pate-like spread.  

Michele enjoys the tuna meatballs on a bed of sauteed eggplant and tomato at Due Ladroni

Artichokes Roman Style at Armando are always a great way to begin a meal.  They are steamed with olive oil, garlic and parsley.  They serve them with good fresh mozzarella di bufala.

A salumi platter such as this one at L’Angolo Divino is a good choice too.  Some of the choices include mortadella made with goose meat, prosciutto from Sauris, and speck.

Pork skin with a slightly spicy tomato sauce and beans at Checchino dal 1887.  This is a little on the heavy side for a starter, but I can’t resist it.

Stracchino, a type of fresh cheese with a fig mostarda at Collina Emiliana.  A taste of Emilia-Romagna in Rome.

Moscardini (little octopus) fritti is one of Michele’s favorites at Cesare al Casaletto

Lardo on whole grain crackers from the famous Bonci at L’Angolo Divino

Warm Octopus with potato salad on arugula at Due Ladroni.

More moscardini for Michele, fried baby octopus here fried and marinated with a little garlic, parsley and lemon at La Torricella.

Join us next time for Primi Piatti and the means Pasta!




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