Mangia! Mangia! – Obika, go for the design and the food

On the trendy Via de’ Tornabuoni, nestled in the courtyard of the luxe Palazzo Tornabuoni, is a new restaurant, Obikà, the latest location in a chain of mozzarella bars that has its birthplace in Rome, and now has siblings in London, New York, Kuwait City,Tokyo, Turin and Milan.

Obikà has the look of a stylish bar where one can stop in for a snack and a glass of wine.  But it is more.  You can get a full meal – antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce – or you can simply have a hand-pinched ball of the freshest mozzarella di Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – Craving Mac ‘n’ Cheese in Tuscany

On a cold and rainy day when nothing is going right, Italians don’t have the same craving for Mac ‘n’ Cheese (maccheroni e formaggio) as most of the American baby boomers.

During the 50s and 60s across the U.S., moms would make Mac ‘n’ Cheese from scratch with a butter and flour roux and American cheese. In the 70s and 80s, Kraft cornered the market with powdered cheese or the deluxe version with a packet of “real” cheddar cheese sauce.

The popularity of macaroni and cheese in the U.S. supposedly started when Thomas Jefferson served the dish at … Read More

Dove Vai? – The Parmesan Museum, Museo del Cibo #1

Northwest of Parma, on the edge of the small town of Soragna, is the oldest of the new food museums, musei del cibo, organized in the last five years in north-central Italy. The Parmesan Cheese Museum, Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano, is worth a detour, especially if you pair it with a visit to a modern Parmesan cheese factory in Soragna.

The famed quality of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is the excellent and well-balanced result of many factors, from the particular lushness of pasturelands and milk, to the artisan techniques of production (unchanged for seven centuries), to natural ripening and maturing … Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – Ristorante Galeffi, from fizz to fine food

The sophisticated menu is ever-changing, depending on the season and what is fresh at the market. One day the appetizers might include whipped salt cod on toasts with truffles or saffron creamed rice surrounding a tiny savory cake garlicky tomato-infused bread. The second course could be risotto with creamy taleggio cheese and truffles or a fettuccine with a sauce of tiny fish and cherry tomatoes. A favorite main dish is rabbit with artichokes and a side of crispy fried vegetables.  This vies with the filet of pork with a confection of layered apples and foie gras.

Dessert is a specialty … Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – Biscotti di Prato is 150 Years Old

When an American dunks a biscotto wedge into his coffee – something an Italian never does (biscotti are dipped into Vin Santo or nothing) – he is honoring the memory of one of the first biscotti makers, and certainly the most famous, Antonio Mattei. Biscotti di Prato, sold worldwide in Mattei’s distinctive blue bag with gold lettering, turns 150 years old this year.

In 1858, pastry chef Antonio Mattei opened a biscottificio in Prato (near Florence) at 22 Via Ricasoli. The storefront and vast simple kitchen continue operating in the same location today, producing and selling the typical twice-cooked cookies … Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – Gelato and Hot Chocolate Together!

Does anyone else experience this seasonal change – a summer yen for gelato, but a winter chocolate craving? In Florence there is a small shop to visit all year long – Vestri Cioccolata (e Gelato). Leonardo Vestri has solved that problem of bridging the seasons with Affogato (Gelato “Drowned” in Hot Chocolate).

In the mid-1960s, Leonardo’s father Daniele, followed his own father into the artisanal chocolate world in the southern Tuscan town of Arezzo. Recently, Daniele went to the source to assure that he had the finest cocoa. He purchased a “finca”, a cocoa plantation in Puntacana, Dominican Republic. … Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – The Ultimate Tuscan Burger at Mac Dario

In Chianti Classico, on a warm October day, we savored succulent burgers under the Tuscan sun. Mac Dario has been open for four months in Panzano and it’s clear that Dario Cecchini has another hit on his platter. 

Until our order for Veloce e Toscano (Fast and Tuscan) arrived just minutes after we sat down, the only thought I had was: “Does Dario ever sleep?”

After the 2006 opening of Solociccia (“It is not a restaurant. It is the home of a butcher.” See Instructions for Use) and the 2007 debut of the Officina della Bistecca (“The Officina is … Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – The Bread of Matera, Italy’s Best?

Matera, located on Italy’s anklebone, boasts of being a UNESCO World Heritage Center with its ancient caves carved in the soft tufa that date back to prehistoric times. (Matera is one of the only places on earth where the residents are still living where their ancestors lived 9,000 years ago.) But what the Materani and visitors alike are more likely to be discussing at any minute of the day is the bread of Matera.  Like the Lardo di Colonnata, the Pane di Matera has been awarded the designation IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta), the only food so honored

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Mangia! Mangia! – Melt In Your Mouth Lardo

Lardo is trendy. Mario Batali is putting it on his pizzas at Otto in New York City and Le Cirque 2000 slices it melting-thin and drapes it over warm country bread. Trattorias and restaurants throughout Italy serve it. Italian butchers and delis sell it by the gram and by the kilo.

Most claim to serve Lardo di Colonnata. But statistics show that 6.5 million kilograms of purported “Lardo di Colonnata” are consumed in Italy per year and Colonnata only produces 160,000 kilos (352,739 pounds) of the savory fat, so about 7 times out of ten it’s not … Read More

Mangia! Mangia! – Tale of Two Brothers

For over half a century in Florence, the name Latini has been associated with classic Tuscan food and wine.  Today, the two Latini brothers carry on the proud tradition, but each in his own unique way.

Latini Family History

Narciso Latini took over his Uncle Angelo’s fiaschetteria (wine bar) in Via della Vigna Nuova almost sixty years ago, a few years after World War II ended.  He sold wine made in the Chianti region around Val d’Elsa.  He offered prosciutto, salame, finocchiona, and hardboiled eggs to go with his customers’ glasses of vino rosso.

Soon Narciso’s … Read More