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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Main Dish

Manicotti Gratinati

This is a recipe I created in the early days of our Italian restaurant, Tabella. Xxxxxx was a sous chef from Cuba. He and I worked this recipe up one morning and by the time we were finished, and had taken the first bite, we were high fiving each other in the prep area. It is definitely an Americanized version of an Italian dish— the first giveaway is the number of steps and ingredients. Most true Italian dishes use minimal ingredients and are prepared simply. Nevertheless, I believe this recipe is worth the time and effort and is perfect for a dinner party when paired with the Tabella House Salad (see recipe).

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Lobster Risotto

This is a recipe we use in the Purple Parrot Café. Chef Jeremy Noffke often pairs this with beef. I suggest you do the same.

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Italian Sausage

Travel journal, date unspecified: Even on a cold, grey, rainy day, the Tuscan countryside is picturesque. There is an unintentional romanticism that bleeds through every vein of this land. It is made twice as charming due to the fact that the locals seem to have no idea how wonderful this place actually is. Understandable, I guess, if that is all one has ever known. Do the people of Fiji or Tahiti know how breathtaking their little slice of the globe is? Possibly, but only because people are traveling thousands of miles and enduring hours spent breathing re-circulated airline air to get there. I suspect it is the same story in this region of Italy.

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My son’s first introduction to Italian cuisine (beyond spaghetti and meatballs) was through gnocchi at Union Square Café in New York when h was six-years old. Every time we have visited Italy since, it’s been one of his go-to dishes. Gnocchi are light potato dumplings that are often served as a first course in the Purple Parrot café, but in Italy I found it most often served at the pasta course. The recipe takes a little time but is well worth the effort.

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Gnocchi with Pesto

If you’ve got some gnocchi stashed away in your kitchen somewhere, this is the easiest recipe in the book.

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Gnocchi with Butter and Sage

Italians love sage. I do, too. One sees it in many meat preparations, but another common application is with gnocchi.

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Chicken Cacciatore

As a kid, I always though Chicken Cacciatore was a dish invented by Americans and served only in the states. Though one night in the kitchen of our Tuscan villa I watched a local woman named Rosanna make the most flavorful cacciatore I had ever eaten— effortlessly. Its’ chicken or rabbit cooked hunter’s style in one pot, and perfect for a winter night one-dish supper (even better if you’re in Tuscany).

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Asparagus Risotto

In Italy, the locals say, “Rice is born in water, but dies in wine.” Italy is the largest rice producer in Europe, and most of it is planted in the Lombardy and Piedmont regions in the north. This version of risotto dies with a dry white wine, but it’s the asparagus and pesto that bring the dish to life.

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Zucchini Pasta

Gluten free is all the rage these days. This recipe takes care of that, and is vegetarian, too.

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