Italian Wine Pairings
Cannelloni with Walnuts and Fried Sage
Chef Matthew Accarrino grew up making pasta with his Italian grandmother: “She always had the same bowl, the same board; she had the process down,” he says.
Pairing: 2007 Conterno Cascina Francia Barolo
This light, flavorful dish is super fast to make, clocking in at 45 minutes.
Pairing: 2008 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Colledilà
Autumn Fritto Misto
Antonio Ciminelli prepares this starter year-round with whatever produce is in season. In the fall, that means apples, mushrooms and late-harvest zucchini, fried in a batter made extra-light and crisp by adding sparkling wine and whipped egg white. The fritto misto is best eaten hot from the pan, perhaps served in a paper cone.
Pairing: NV Mionetto Brut Prosecco
Stracciatella with Spinach
"My grandmother felt that cooking was her life. She used to come over and whip up a batch of stracciatella," says Linda Meyers of this classic Italian chicken soup with spinach and delicate bits of egg. "Tasting it brings back all these memories of her."
Pairing: 2010 Tiefenbrunner Kirchleiten Sauvignon
Ligurian Seafood Stew
After blanching peas, snap peas and fingerling potatoes, Andrew Carmellini adds them to a homemade mussel broth along with sea bass, clams, an herb pesto and little seafood meatballs made with shrimp, chorizo and scallops.
Pairing: 2010 Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna
T-Bone Fiorentina with Sautéed Spinach
Mario Batali loves to drizzle giant, juicy T-bone steaks with a peppery olive oil just before serving.
Pairing: 2006 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino
Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Vermicelli
The thin strands of pasta soak up this spicy tomato sauce to form a flavorful mound punctuated with shrimp.
Pairing: 2009 Elio Altare Barbera d’Alba
Crisp-Skinned Porchetta with Lemon and Chile
Porchetta, a traditional Italian street food, is a moist and fatty fresh ham covered with skin that's heavily seasoned with salty garlic, rosemary, fennel and lemon. Chef James Lewis of Bettola in Birmingham, Alabama, adds some heat to his version with crushed red pepper.
Pairing: 2009 Valle Reale Vigneto Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Ricotta Gnudi with Chanterelles
These tender gnudi, adapted from Nancy Silverton's Mozza Cookbook, are delicious with buttery chanterelles.
Pairing: 2010 J. Hofstätter Joseph Pinot Bianco
Focaccia-Stuffed Squab with Bean Stew
For the past 18 years, Celestino Drago (an F&W Best New Chef 1993) has opened great restaurants around L.A., like Drago Ristorante. Drago Centro is his most ambitious yet. Anchored by an enormous glass wine-storage tower, it specializes in updated Italian food, like the squab: "It's traditional to stuff birds with plain bread," Drago says, "but I like to use focaccia with herbs; it's nicer."
Pairing: 2009 Tenutae Lageder Lagrein
Use pancetta, which is simpler to find than guanciale, and buy a good jarred tomato sauce instead of making one.
Pairing: 2009 Pio Cesare Fides Barbera d'Alba
Spinach-and-Ricotta Tortelli with Browned Butter
The pasta for this tortelli (a larger version of tortellini) is extremely silky and supple, which makes it excellent with the creamy ricotta-and-spinach filling. If there's any dough left over, cut it into noodles, as Marco Canora does, then dry it and store it in bags in the refrigerator to have on hand for last-minute dinners.
Pairing: 2009 Soave Vigneti di Foscarino
Giada De Laurentiis, host of Food Network's Everyday Italian and Behind the Bash, cuts swordfish into chunks and cooks them on skewers so the fish is done extra fast. Alternatively, "I like to skewer the swordfish on rosemary sticks before grilling them," De Laurentiis says. "The rosemary sticks infuse the fish with such a nice flavor."
Pairing: 2009 Villa Matilde Tenute di Altavilla Greco di Tufo
Warm Seafood Salad with Pistachio and Capers
A version of this recipe was served to Oceania passengers by chef Francesco Cutrì of Ristorante Le Bocche, in the Ligurian village of Portovenere on the Italian Riviera. The shrimp-and-squid salad, with its piquant dressing of capers, olive oil and ground pistachios, was a hit.
Pairing: 2010 Terenzuola Colli Di Luni Vermentino
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
Pasta cacio e pepe ("cheese and pepper") is made with Pecorino Romano, a tangy aged sheep's-milk cheese originally from Rome, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. In Lazio, chef Antonio Ciminelli of Osteria Fontana Candida serves an elegant version with short pasta on the menu, and a rustic one with spaghetti for staff.
Pairing: 2009 Fontana Candida Luna Mater Frascati