Katie Parla's Instagram takeover
Writer, Roman culinary guide and cookbook author Katie Parla took over Eatable's Instagram account to share some of her favourite destinations in Italy, the country she calls home.
By Katie Parla
Pantelleria, an island off the coast of Sicily, is home to restaurant Il Principe il Pirata where cured tuna roe delivers a savory undertone to spaghetti alla bottarga di tonno e pistacchi di Bronte (spaghetti with cured roe and Sicilian pistachios). Here the roe complements and doesn't overwhelm the subtly sweet and fruity pistachios imported from "mainland" Sicily, specifically the western slopes of Mt. Etna.
Pantelleria is all about traditional ingredients like capers, which La Nicchia harvests by hand from bushy plants spread over terraced gardens. Among the caper groves, Zibibbo and Nivuro Nostrale grapes are grown and wine makers like Tanca Nica transform them into vino with floral and herbaceous notes that evoke the natural landscape of the island.
The terraced gardens of Pantelleria (top) and a bottle from Tanca Nica.
Most visitors plan their trips to Italy during European summer, missing out on the country’s spectacular winter bounty, particularly in the form of radicchio. This bitter sweet plant comes in dozens of favourites and a range of colors, from magenta striped with white ribs to deep purple to pale green with red speckles to salmon pink. I love a mix of radicchio varieties in salads dressed with saba (sweetened grape juice reduction), walnuts, and chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano or quartered and grilled, then drizzled with traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena or Reggio Emilia. Pasta with sausage, radicchio, and a splash of cream is a winter classic, as is risotto with radicchio and Gorgonzola.
Melito Irpino is surrounded by durum wheat grain fields and steep vineyards growing Aglianico, Fiano, and Greco grapes for some of Italy’s most prestigious wines. It’s no surprise then, that the 1938 institution Antica Trattoria Di Pietro is known for its hand shaped pasta and stellar wine list. Cicatielli con pulieio, pasta with a fresh tomatoes and wild pennyroyal sauce, is the signature dish and served with a side of warm hospitality by Enzo, Teresa, and Anita Di Pietro in this delicious heart of Campania.
The city of Naples (top) and a seasonal offering at 'E Curti.
Finally let’s go to 'E Curti, which brings together some of my (and possibly your!) favorite things: multi generational family ownership, seasonal dishes, and an enviable copper pot collection. This trattoria in Sant’Anastasia near Naples serves comfort food rich in local ingredients like tomatoes and bitter greens from Mt. Vesuvius and dried pasta from Gragnano. According to local custom, each meal concludes with nucillo (the dialect name for nocino, walnut liqueur), which the family makes with nuts hand harvested every June. I have lots more recommendations like this one so be sure to reach out on Instagram with Italy food and travel questions when you plan your future trips! A presto!
Words by Katie Parla, katieparla.com. Photography Katie Parla and @edandcamera.