Every month Il Fornaio explores the food and wine of a different region in Italy with a regional menu. For two weeks, a specially crafted, regional menu is available along with wines from the region. In July 2012, the regional menu is available through July 15, and Sicily is being explored this month.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and has Greek, Arabic, and Italian cultural and culinary influences. Seafood is a significant part of the Sicilian diet, and swordfish, lobster, mussels, and shrimp are used in many dishes. Eggplant, fava beans, and couscous are also frequently used in Sicilian dishes.
Il Fornaio takes great pride in creating authentic regional menus. This month’s menu was created by Il Fornaio Chef Roberto Gerbino and Executive Chef Maurizio Mazzon. Gerbino grew up in Sicily and started to work in his family’s restaurant at the age of 10. He has fond memories of learning how to cook from his father, and many of the dishes on the regional menu are based on the dishes his father taught him to cook. After graduating from culinary school in his home town, Gerbino travelled to the U.S. and started working in restaurants in San Diego, and he is currently working at Il Fornaio in Reston,Virginia.
On the regional appetizer menu is a vegan fava, garbanzo, and pinto bean soup with lentils, peas and farro. There are also organic heirloom tomatoes with cheese, onions, caperberries, and black olives. Finally, there are fried rice balls filled with meat ragu, peas, hardboiled egg, and cheese. The dish is prepared exactly as Gerbino’s father taught him to cook it.
The regional pasta menu features a pasta dish with eggplant in tomato sauce, pasta with veal meatballs, spaghetti with Maine lobster, Mediterranean mussels, shrimp, and tomato sauce, and a rice dish with shrimp and crab.
Main course choices showcase seafood as well as lamb. There is grilled swordfish with eggplant and couscous, wild seabass with mashed potatoes as well as grilled skewers of leg of lamb with spinach and couscous.
The regional dessert is cannoli and profiterole with hazelnut gelato, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.
Il Fornaio San Jose
302 South Market Street
(at the Sainte Claire)
San Jose, CA 95113
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[Note: An earlier version of this post was published on Examiner.com.]