More Roman Food in North Beach. Bravo!

Maurizio Bruschi, the chef/owner of Ideale, the classic North Beach Roman restaurant on Grant for over 20 years, and his partner Giuseppe Terminiello, recently opened Piccolo Forno on Columbus.

Piccolo Forno brings another Roman culinary tradition to North Beach, pizza al taglia, pizza by the cut. You find these shops all over Rome. One of my favorites is La Ranella in Trastevere and Piccolo Forno is in that same elite class.

But I’m headed to Ideale to cook with Maurizio. We were in a springtime frame of mind and in Roma that means young spring lamb and the first crop of artichokes.

Carciofi alla Romana is a simple preparation. Maurizio cleaned a large artichoke in a flash. The artichokes went upside down in a pot with a bath of water, white wine, extra virgin olive oil and a few aromatics.

Potatoes were tossed with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and garlic and roasted in the oven.

But the star of this meal was the scottadito (“burn the finger”). The chops, simply seasoned with salt and black pepper, are so good you burn your fingers because you can’t wait to pick them up and eat those lollipops as they come hot off the grill.

Maurizio laid the crispy, creamy roasted potatoes down on a big platter ringed by tender, flavorful artichokes with a hint of mint and the lamb chops just off the grill atop the potatoes. Scatter some lemon on the plate. Squeeze a drop or two on the lamb chop, if you wish. Ah, Roman spring right here on Grant Avenue.

We always eat very well when in Rome. I have to say this North Beach meal is right up there with the best classics I’ve had in Rome.

Grazie Maurizio. Bravo!

Note: We shot this episode in April. Apologies for the late release. However, this meal is worth making any time of year as long as the ingredients are available in your local market. Buon appetito!

Scottadito

  1. Baby spring lamb is in the market now. Get yourself a rack of baby loin lamb chops. Have your butcher divide them for you.
  2. There’s no recipe here because there’s no need to mess with these tender chops.  Maurizio pounded them a bit for uniform thickness.
  3. Sprinkle the chops with salt and a grind of black pepper to taste and slap them down on a hot grill or hot grill pan atop your stove.
  4. The scottadito only take a couple of minutes on each side. The Romans like their lamb well-done but choose the doneness you like best.  You’ll be burning your fingers too. It doesn’t hurt too much.
  5. Don’t forget to give the chops a squeeze of lemon before eating these lollipops.

Carciofi alla Romana

Ingredients

  • 4 medium artichokes
  • 1-cup water
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 sprigs Italian flat parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thin
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put enough water to cover the cleaned artichokes in a bowl large enough to hold the cleaned artichokes.
  2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the lemon into the water. Put the lemon rind in the water too. (The acidulated water will keep the artichokes from discoloring before you cook them.)
  3. Cut off the tough top of the artichokes at the point where the dark green leaves turn to light green/yellow.
  4. Trim the remaining leaves to remove the dark green outer leave.
  5. Peel the stem.
  6. Open the artichoke and with a spoon, remove the choke, if any.
  7. Put the cleaned artichoke into the acidulated water.
  8. Put a large pot over high heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil.
  9. When the oil begins to ripple, place the artichokes stem up in the oil and push them down with your hand to open them and to brown them a bit.
  10. Add the water, wine, garlic, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, parsley and mint and bring the pot to a boil.
  11. Lower the heat to medium-low and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. (If need be add more water. But in the end you want about half the original volume to create a flavorful pan sauce.)
  12. Cover the pot with a lid or cover the artichokes with crumpled damp butcher paper.
  13. Let the artichokes steam until they are knife tender, about 20 minutes.
  14. Remove the artichokes to a serving platter.
  15. Spoon some of the cooking pan sauce over each artichoke.
  16. Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold)
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from the stem
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2-inch cubes.
  3. Put the potatoes, olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a baking dish, add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Coat the potatoes with the olive oil mixture.
  5. Roast the potatoes in the hot oven until they begin to brown and are knife-tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the potatoes to a serving platter.
  7. Serve immediately.