This Pasta Tasting Menu from an Osteria Francescana Alum Is a Dreamy Jaunt to Modena
Drawing from the wisdom of nonnas, chef Stefano Secchi has made a big impact on the New York pasta scene in the six months since opening Rezdôra, his intimate Italian restaurant in Flatiron. An alum of Modena's famed Osteria Francescana and Hosteria Giutsi, Secchi gives the rich, yolk-yellow pastas of Italy's Emilia Romagna region their due.
The star of Rezdôra, Secchi's first solo restaurant, is the pasta tasting menu: a five-course, omakase-like sampling of the best classical pastas in Emilia Romagna, from Modena to Bologna to Parma. His execution is immaculate, from the first delicate bowl of just-al dente tortellini served in capone broth, poured tableside, to the final cheese-course-inspired pasta of anolini topped with Parmigiano cream and a 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar.
At $90, the tasting menu is a relative steal, considering it's the closest Americans can get to eating at Osteria Francescana without booking a trip. Here's a tour of the full menu, in Secchi's own words.
Course One: Tortellini in brodo
"This is little baby tortellini that comes from Modena, or Bologna—depends on whoever you’re arguing with. We have Parmigiano Reggiano down below, and we pour the broth tableside."
Course Two: Maccheroni al pettine con pomodoro
"Tomato sauce, basil, and Parmigiano fonduta. It's very simple. For salsa pomodoro in northern Italy, we use sofrito to start. In southern Italy, Lazio, and even Tuscany, you use onion and garlic, and that’s it."
Course Three: Tortelloni di ricotta with brown butter and sage
"This is inspired by probably my favorite bite I’ve ever eaten. When I was at Hosteria Giusti, we used to roll pasta and make tortelloni, and the guy from the caseificio who made cheese would come from the hills of Bologna to bring us ricotta through the back door. When I say 'small tiny restaurant in the middle of Modena,' that’s exactly what it is. Four tables, only open for lunch, five days a week. He would bring in this ricotta that was still warm. We add Parmigiano to that and a little bit of parsley, and we make this tortelloni from it and we serve it with nothing but really good butter and sage from the garden. When you taste this, it’s like the most classic Modenese, Emilia Romagna thing you’ve ever tasted. It's super ingredient driven, simple, and full of Parmigiano Reggiano, and then a sage butter sauce with the nicest butter. When Daniel Humm was in with his whole crew, obviously they ordered everything, but we sent this on top, and out of everything, it was the most famous, most simple stuff that was his favorite. And I don’t disagree."
Course Four: Tagliolini with ragu from Modena
"This is one of my favorites; it's a Modenese-style ragu. You always see Bolognese bastardized all over the United States. No one does it really right, which is a shame. This is very similar to Bolognese but instead of using pancetta, veal, and meat, we use prosciutto and mortadella and pork. And we use Parmigiano rinds for the braise—there's very little tomato products, just a small touch. It’s not oversauced with the ragu, because in reality, the noodles are the star—the nonna is rolling them out herself forever."
Course Five: Anolini from Parma
"When we were struggling to decide whether or not we wanted to do a cheese course or dessert course, we decided that we were going to do it in pasta form. So this is supposed to be our cheese and dessert course. The filling is traditional filling from Parma, and you usually have this anolini, which are about this size and usually served in broth. When I say we do crema di Parimigiano – its 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano. The ratio is almost one to one, cream to Parmesan cheese. And we finish with a 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar on top. The idea is to pour this tableside."
Rezdôra, 27 E 20th St, New York, NY, (646) 692-9090.