Smaller in landmass than California, Italy has nearly twice the population. The modern nation of Italy didn’t come into being until 1861, when the independent states of the Italian Peninsula and Sicily were unified under King Victor Emmanuel II. Over centuries prior, the densely populated regions up and down the boot-shaped country developed their own cuisines. Americans are most familiar with tomato-based sauces for pasta and pizza, of course, but there is a delectable range of diverse culinary treats from north to south. Our new seasonal pizzas each take inspiration from a beloved Italian dish—one from the town of Amatrice in central Italy’s Lazio region, and the other from Sicily.
Some Romans claim the recipe for bucatini all’amatriciana originated in Rome, even though it bears the name of Amatrice, the medieval Italian hill town about two hours away. In Amatrice, where they claim the eponymous pasta as their indelible contribution to Italian cuisine, those are fighting words. History aside, in present-day Rome, bucatini all’amatriciana is served citywide, and it was there, in a lovely trattoria, that we found the inspiration for our Amatriciana pizza. Here’s what we came up with: Pancetta, with its vibrant pork flavor and bacon-like texture, is layered over creamy fresh mozzarella on a crushed Italian tomato base seasoned with chili pepper flakes. After bake, we finish the pizza with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and mint.
The cuisine of Sicily bears the mark of the many occupiers—Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Spanish, French, and Italians—who at one time or another inhabited the island. Our seasonal pizza, Sicilian Cauliflower, is a riff on a classic cauliflower preparation in Sicily. We brush our crust with olive oil and then top it with tender, spiced-up roasted cauliflower and an Arab-Sicilian-influenced medley of raisins, parsley, mozzarella, parmesan and breadcrumbs. A taste will explain why this flavor combination has stood the test of time.
In the theme of Italian, our seasonal gelato is Baci di Dama. The melt-in-your-mouth Italian cookies of the same name—in translation, lady’s kisses—are made with two delicate almond and hazelnut cookies held together with a chocolate hazelnut ganache. At Gelatiamo, using owner’s Maria Coassin’s family recipe, they’ve created a gelato that resembles the flavor of the cookies itself, made with almonds and hazelnuts from Italy and decadently studded with pieces of their Baci di Dama cookies. The perfect Valentine’s Day treat!