Menu: Il Pranzo

Il Pranzo

This is the menu for a recent lunch I prepared for about a dozen work colleagues, evenly divided between Bay Area and NYC residents.

I wanted this meal to feature the best of slow food in the Bay Area for our NY guests, so I served Fra’Mani salami made in Oakland and used only organic farmer’s market produce. Italian prune plums had just arrived in the farmer’s market near my office and the strawberries were just about done for the summer season so I had to use them both.

I rounded all of that out with the best of imported Italian products that I could find in Gianni’s North Beach and at A.G. Ferrari near my office too. I wanted to include a Jewish dish and chose the stuffed artichokes in the style of the Roman Jewish ghetto. Besides my mother’s lasagna, the lasagna al forno con balsamella is the one that my family and friends most often ask me to make for them so I had to include it in this menu.

Check out the wines. They either mirror or contrast the major flavors in each course. Let me know if you want me to show you how to make these dishes or want me to post some of the recipes.


  • Carciofi alla Romano. Artichokes with a breadcrumb, minced mint, parsley, garlic, and anchovy stuffing poached in EVO and water. (The star of the course. All the rest of the stuff could be eaten after the last bite of the artichoke went into your mouth.)
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Fra’ Mani Toscano Salami (locally produced)
  • Boschetto al Tartufo. Cow and sheep milk semi-soft cheese with white truffle from Toscano.
  • Robiola Bosino. Cow and sheep milk soft cheese from Piemonte.
  • Cipolline en agrodolce. Flat caramelized Italian onions in a balsamic and chestnut honey sauce.
  • Olive Calabrese. Olives, roasted red peppers, garlic cloves, Calabrese chili in an EVO marinade.
  • Focaccia. Homemade, topped with EVO, sea salt, dried Sicilian oregano. A Neapolitan favorite.
  • Vino: Alice Ose vino spumante. A sparkling rose from the Prosecco region of the Veneto that pairs well with this broad array of fairly bold flavors.


  • Lasagna al forno con balsamella. Layers of homemade pasta, Bolognese meat sauce, grated parmigiano and fresh mozzarella, and bechamel.
  • Insalata mista. Baby field greens, edible flowers dressed with “La Mola” extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamico and fiore di sale (the very top crust of sea salt beds).
  • Vino: Badio e Colibuono Chianti Classico 2006. Had to go with a Tuscan to stand up to the lasagna and this is a great bottle. Not as good as the 05, but a very close runner-up.


  • Crostata di prugne con crema. Free form tart with fresh Italian prune plums with a dollop of whipped cream on the side of each slice.
  • Liquore di fragole. A homemade strawberry liqueur. Had to make this with the last of the summer’s small, dark red strawberries. In Italy, this liqueur will keep the strawberries in your heart until the first harvest next spring.

Sparkling and still Italian mineral waters.

7 Replies to “Menu: Il Pranzo”

  1. Just stumbled upon your site, you got a new reader! I’d love to see the recipe for the Crostata.

    Best regards from Germany!

  2. Gianni I’m from rome (pecorino romano, i write also on youtube XD) It’s not true, you have a good pronunciation, and a very funny accent 🙂 Your kitchen it’s magnificent, i suppose it’s very difficult find some ingredientes in san francisco, and instead your recipes are perfect. If you can came back in Italy on December there is an interesting fair in rome where is possible to taste and buy handmade special food from all regions of Italy, i send you a video of last edition 🙂

  3. It’s a fantastic menù, and your italian it’s quite good, only some word it’s wrong: balsamella is besciamella, toscano salami is salame toscano, carciofi alla romana, oregano is origano, cipolline in agrodolce, olive calabresi. Thank you, I’m improving my english reading your fantastic blog and listening your explainations. xoxo from Italy

    1. Mille grazie. Thanks for helping me with my Italian. Non parlo l’Italiano bene. That I don’t speak Italian well is obvious! Your English is great. Keep it up! Where are you in Italia?

  4. Just found you via BoingBoing. What great videos!! Love your laid back style and most importantly, the gorgeous food. Would LOVE to see a video of the Lasagna al forno con balsamella. Sounds divine!

  5. This menu sounds fantastic, I hope to see the recipe for Carciofi alla Romano on this site soon. Good work on the videos; you have a very entertaining and watchable style, I hope you keep it low-key like it is.

    1. Ciao Eddie B. I love that artichoke recipe. This one from the Roman ghetto is a breadcrumb, herb and pecorino stuffing. Maybe I’ll do a whole episode on artichokes: baby artichokes sauteed in EVOO, my mother’s baked artichoke with a parsley, bread, garlic and olive stuffing, marinated artichoke hearts. OMG, so many to choose from. Stay tuned.

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