(A selection from Marty Martindale’s
Short Orders: Food Stories and Travels)
While some spoke in parables, Fabrizio speaks in recipes.
My favorite chef is Italian. His name is Fabrizio Schenardi, and his love for food gets him awards from Zagat and Golden Spoon and titles like Executive Chef of the Year while still conforming to the goals exacted by the Slow Food Movement — using fresh, in-season produce, grown as close by as possible, avoiding chemicals, while going light on the salt, low on bad fats, even making his own stocks.
Fabrizio’s at his best when you can catch him pouring over his sizable collection of Italian cookbooks and get him to tell you what old Italian dishes he wants to introduce to America — things like “hare cooked with raisins, wine fume blanc and cream … a concoction of rooster face parts combined with cornichons, wine, truffles and mushrooms … leg muscles smoked for a week or two to become a type of jerky … stuffed stomach with seasoning, chestnuts, hazel nuts, pine nuts, pork blood and leeks … fried pumpkin … eel when it’s cleaned properly … a favre bean dish with fish served with a herbed tomato sauce … a creation of chestnut flour, raisins, pine nuts topped with mascarpone.” These are just a few.
Every Trattoria experience with Fabrizio starts with the appearance of artisan breads accompanied by his delicious olive pate. Then guests might opt to munch on his crunchy, three-meat-stuffed green olives delicately breaded and lightly fried – delightfully distracting as you take in his tempting menu.
Here’s more of what you can expect when Fabrizio’s chef:
- How exquisite is his Bianca, stone-oven pizza made with pure gorgonzola, goat cheese, provolone, Parmigiano, sweet onion comfit with just a touch of sage?
- His not-so-plain beef fillet served with a potato-gorgonzola cheese gratin, roasted cipollini onion and Barbera wine sauce. Yes, fancy can be Slow!
- Another offering is his Basil Tajarin with shrimp-cured lemon oil. “Tajarin” is from Fabrizio’s home area, Italy’s Piedmont. It is slowly handmade strings of flat pasta, the thinnest possible.
- Balsamic-Marinated Duck Breast with Rhubarb-Grappa Sauce: “The effect of the balsamic vinegar on the breast meat makes it juicy and tender” he explains. “We also do a rhubarb treatment, and the tartness balances perfectly” He serves a subtle, smooth Potato Parmesan Cheese Flan to go with this.
- His Fresh Tomato-Burrata Salad accompanied by a small, whimsical Prosciutto Sandwich made with an Olive Muffin.
- He re-incarnates French fries as Polenta Fries, exciting finger food.
- Risottos become risottos-du-jour. One day he may serve them with Sea Scallops and Asparagus or Squid Ink and Clams or Crabmeat and Brie. Any risotto day is a good day.
- “For potato gnocchi, we melt four cheeses — gorgonzola, provolone, parmesan and a little bit of Manchego into a fondue, with a little bit of milk and black pepper. Then we add a little traditional pesto and serve it with a tomato, basil and mascarpone sauce.”
- He stretches his raviolis tightly, tissue-thin and fills them with a savory mixture of Ricotta, Herbs and Veal. He sauces them with Truffle Essence and Thyme Butter.
- “You know the papadelli, the long and wide pasta with bolognesa? Right now, we do the old school Bolognese. We cook it for about six hours, beef and veal meatballs, red wine and tomatoes.”
- “Carbonara, we do for special occasions. The other day I did it with spec and grappa, and then we did the liaison with the heavy cream, a little bit of the egg yolk, Parmesan cheese and a little bit of tarragon.”
- His Salmon with Salsa Verde Piemontese is a warm salad of zucchini, haricot vert and watercress. “The Piemontese is made with parsley, mint, olive oil, cornichon, hardboiled egg yolk, bread soaked in red wine vinegar, capers and anchovies.”
- Sometimes Fabrizio uses pasta techniques to create a simple dessert. “Bugie is a dish you eat in Italy at Carnival. It is a pasta dough. I add a little bit of butter, a glass of masala, little bit of sugar, mix it like pasta, open them up, cut them and fry them. Put powdered sugar on top. People love them.”
- His buddy at the nearby gelato store with many, many flavors, Fabrizio also has many flavors of grappa. They are works in progress on his grappa stand in the main dining room. His grappa, not in progress, rests on the top shelf; the unfinished grappas continue to “work” on the lower shelf. “Our grappa is smoother, because I cure it for about two whole months,” Curing, for him is a not only careful additions of flavoring but lots of filtering and straining.