Tagliatelle al Ragù at a restaurant in Bologna
While I was studying in Bologna this past summer, I stumbled upon an Italian cookbook called “Sfida al Mattarello: I segreti della sfoglia bolognese.” I’m no expert in the Italian language, but I believe that more or less translates to “Challenge by the Rolling Pin: The secrets of Bolognese pasta.” It was written by Margherita and Valeria Simili, better known as Sorelle Simili, twins born in Bologna famous for their expertise in traditional Bolognese cooking. Even though it is written in Italian, my fluency in Spanish along with an online dictionary was enough to figure out what the recipe more or less said.
Their detailed recipe micromanages every step giving the impression that this is harder to make than it actually is. This reinforces my anecdotal observation that for Italians, cooking is as much a ritual as it is a process. However, if Sorelle Simili tells me that I absolutely have to pour the wine at the edge of the pan so that it is warm by the time it gets to the meat in the center because we do not want cold wine to touch the meat while it cooks, I listen even if it makes absolutely no sense to me.
Saluggi's front door
There is some debate as to where and when pizza originated. Many of those debates will include New York City with varying levels of importance. Regardless, it’s undeniable that New York City has some of the best pizzerias around. If you ask some friends who have been to or know New York where to get a good slice of pizza, Artichoke or Grimaldi’s will probably be somewhere toward the top of their list. There are so many great pizzerias in New York, it’s easy to go with what’s well known and famous. However, I’m going to ask that you try something off the beaten path that will leave you wondering how such deliciousness had been absent from your life.
The inside of Saluggi's decked out with Halloween decorations
Saluggi’s has an unassuming storefront in Tribeca. When you walk in, you will probably find that they aren’t super full. You may worry for a moment that this crazy west-coast-born blogger has no idea what he is talking about. This place is not that packed–certainly not like those famous places all of your friends kept telling you to try–how could it be so good? You just have to trust me.
Saluggi’s serves appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and pastas, but what they are most famous for is their brick-oven pizzas and calzones. They make their own fresh mozzarella cheese that they use generously on every pizza. After eating their fresh mozzarella you will probably wonder how to make fresh mozzarella to make up for the poor substitutes you find elsewhere. They even make a vegan pizza with daiya vegan cheese, red sauce, and basil. Their toppings have been nothing but fresh and each pie seems to be made with tender love and care. The pizza crust is perfectly toasted and crunches ever so slightly with each bite. To top it off, they are reasonably priced with large pizzas (8 filling slices) ranging from $19-25. They also sell small pizzas and pizzas by the slice if your heart so desires, but I find it difficult to resist ordering the large every time I go. Continue reading
A shot of espresso at Bar Romano in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna
This past June, I spent two weeks studying international commercial arbitration at the University of Bologna. It was an excellent opportunity to go back to Europe (as you probably saw in my post on Madrid) and eat some amazing Italian food.
Bologna is famous for its handmade pasta, in particular, its stuffed pasta. It is said that in Bologna, they eat “la grassa.” It literally means fat or rich. In other words, they eat very well. The pasta itself is made using only fresh eggs and type 0 flour (vs. 00 flour), which in other regions is often used for pizza preparation. They mix the eggs together in a “fountain” of flour, slowly incorporate the flour, set the dough aside for about half an hour, and then carefully roll it out into sheets before cutting it. I bought a book by Sorelle Simili, two elderly Italian women well known in the art of handmade pasta in Emilia Romagna (the larger region of which Bologna is a part), in the hopes of perfecting the technique this summer. Unfortunately, I have yet to find time for it! I still have about a month of summer left, though. Whatever I learn from the experience, I will recount here.