Friday Recipe: da Flora’s Arancini with a Spicy Aioli

Arancini with aioli

All of those who gathered at my private Sunday dinner at da Flora raved about our il pranzo. The women at da Flora were at the top of their game!

Jen, the genius in the kitchen, shared a couple of her recipes. Here’s my adaptation of her arancini and spicy aioli recipes. These rice balls and aioli are easy to make and are absolutely delicious.



More photos from the exclusive dinner event at da Flora…

A Night in Tuscany in North Beach – Regional Food & Wine Pairing

Tuscan Food & Wine Pairing, Sunday March 6th, 6pm
Tuscan Food & Wine Pairing, Sunday March 6th, 6pm
Tuscan cuisine from the Gambaccini family of Caffé BaoNecci. Four courses paired with four wines.

Food & Wine Pairing Series


I make an annual pilgrimage to Italy to go on culinary adventures. The trips inevitably turn into a group excursion with yours truly guiding a small herd of friends into markets, kitchens, and caffes.

Great food, great wine, great friends. It’s the highlight of my year. When I can’t be in the Old Country, I find solace here in North Beach. It’s a little piece of Italy in the States, and I love it.

In that spirit, I decided to create a series of private restaurant dinner parties to showcase region-specific Italian cuisines and wines, and the chefs that know those regions so well.

Naturally, I’ve got my favorite North Beach restaurants. I like some of the popular ones, but the real gems are the small, family-owned places with living connections to the Italian villages of their origin. By supporting these restaurants, you can reward their efforts at making the North Beach community the best it can be – through a nuanced mix of tradition and plain old yumminess.

These custom-designed menus are a collaboration between myself and the chefs, and promise to whisk you to Italia via your taste buds.

Introducing the first in the series: Tuscan Cuisine at Caffé BaoNecci
Sunday, March 6th, 6pm


The first in the series is this trattoria near Grant and Green. Known for its thin-crust pizza, the restaurant might be small, but the family who own it are larger than life. Walter and Stefania Gambaccini, and sons Elia and Filippo, are recent immigrants to North Beach, moving here from the village of Altopascio near Lucca.

Stefania is cooking a four course meal that she used to make in her home village in Altopascio (she may even share a song or two). Walter is showcasing some hard-to-find wines, including a wonderful Chianti from a friend’s vineyard in Montalbano.

Come join us for a typical Luccese meal and gain new insight into the cooking and culture of northern Tuscany.

There are only 40 seats at the table, so buy your ticket now. Bring some friends, and make some new ones, during this evening of fine Tuscan food and wine.

I’ll even send you a recipe or two after our delightful evening at BaoNecci.

In this video, I introduce most of the family, and they talk about the food, as son Elia translates his parents’ Italian…


In part two of the video, Walter talks about the wine…


The Menu: 4 courses paired with 4 wines


  • Crostini Toscani. Tuscan chicken liver pate on a thin toast. (I’m not crazy about liver, and I love these.)
  • Bruschetta con pomodoro. Tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, salt and basil.
  • Prosecco Negroni NV. From the Veneto with white peach and pear tones in this bright and light sparkling wine.


  • Zuppa Ribollita. This classic bean and vegetable soup takes two days to make.
  • Chianti Fattoria Montellori 2007. From Walter’s friends in the Montalbano zone in the Chianti district west of Florance the Nieri family have produced a fine cherry colored medium-bodied wine with soft textured fruit. A reminder of the delicious, haunting Chiantis that flow from the casks of the finest Tuscan trattorie.


  • Pollo alla cacciatora con polenta. Chicken in a tomato sauce flavored with garlic and sage and these tiny multi-colored Tuscan olives cured with bay laurel and clove. Served with polenta to help soak up the sauce. Vegetarian option: Sformato. A molded vegetable souffle-like dish with zucchini, eggplant and carrots.
  • Bolgheri Rosso Michele Satta 2008. A Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and Merlot from southern Tuscany, the land of Sassicaia. The wine has a bouquet of red and black fruit, leather and tobacco, good fruit balance and dry finish.


  • Crostata con marmellata di albicocche. A rustic tart with apricot marmelade.
  • Crema di savoiardi. Layers of liqueur-soaked ladyfingers and pastry cream.
  • Vin Santo Montellori. A favorite Tuscan dessert wine with marmalade and sherry aroma and a full flavor of orange zest and roasted nuts.
Tuscan Food & Wine Pairing, Sunday March 6th, 6pm
Tuscan Food & Wine Pairing, Sunday March 6th, 6pm
Tuscan cuisine from the Gambaccini family of Caffé BaoNecci. Four courses paired with four wines.