I Primi della Lanternaia
I think that it goes without saying that I am a great lover of pasta and I am now back in the holy land for pasta aficionados. It has been a great challenge to not eat pasta every night, the descriptions on the menu always call my name, they have made an art of describing their food, though they could use a little help with their English translations. I have been eating more pasta than I normally do, we would try to limit our consumption to a few nights a week in the States, but the options are always so wonderful it is always hard to refuse.
The primi are the course that mostly reflect tradition and the use of the local ingredients. Wonderful seafood, mussels, fava beans and broccoli rabe. What the chef decides to do with these ingredients can vary, but the results are usually exceptional. The regular menu features a fava bean purée with stewed dandelion greens and fried peppers, the only vegetarian option on the menu, and wonderful comfort food. My husband tends to order the “terra” or land dishes, being limited with the seafood due to his allergies. Ravioli filled with primosale and pancetta in saffron, gnocchi with tomato sauce and candied basil, cavatelli with chickpeas and pancetta, fusilli with a rabbit ragù, and the pasta that Puglia is most famous for, orecchiette with broccoli rabe, one of my favorites.
The mar piccolo which borders Taranto on the east is dotted with mussel farms and is famous all over Italy for the quality of the mussels. You have to be careful though because the waters surrounding Taranto are extremely polluted. I have ordered several pastas with mussels, both from the regular menu as from the specials. Spaghetti with mussels and a bell pepper reduction, egg tagliolini with clams and mussels sprinkled with bottarga, spaghetti with sea urchin, linguine with a scampi ragù and most memorable were the squid ink tagliolini on a bed of shrimp tartar. I have only had raw shrimp in Italy and as is sweet as candy, so delicious.
One Year Ago: Farfalle with Butternut Squash, Olives and Grapes