recipe: Pasta “Fellini” (inspired by Little Italy’s La Dolce Vita)

After our big anniversary night out at Dinner Lab and far too many weekends away from my kitchen during the month of September, I felt like continuing our celebration via a meal at home this past Saturday evening.

I swung by Heinen’s after a solid class at Ride + Workout that morning and splurged a few of our favorite things: a Delmonico steak for Hans, a piece of wild caught salmon for me, and the ingredients for one of Hans’ favorite pasta dishes.

Inspired by a meal we had a Little Italy’s La Dolce Vita many anniversaries dinners ago, I recreated the sauce my redhead still talks about — a blend of tomatoes, pancetta, gorgonzola & parmesan. I did my best to recreate their “Fellini” sauce – at least I’m pretty sure that’s the name that the La Dolce Vita team actually calls it. For our (and this blog’s) purposes, it stuck — much like this sauce does to the right noodle.

pasta a la fellini la dolce vita

Pasta “Fellini”

For 2 large servings or 4 smaller servings for sides

  • 1 cup of dry short cut pasta* (your many options here, thanks to Wikipedia)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup pancetta, diced
  • 2/3 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
  • Pinch of salt (to start, season to taste later)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 cup of cream (milk if you’re in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup of gorgonzola, plus extra for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup of parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling

Heat a pot of water to boil. Add pasta to water when at rolling boil. Cook pasta to right before it gets al dente (you’ll finish cooking it in the sauce, so reserve some of the pasta water, just in case.)

In a large sauté pan set to medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add garlic, dropping the temperature to medium. Sauté for one minute.

Add pancetta, cooking for 2 minutes before adding the grape tomatoes, salt (go easy as there’s salt in the meat), and pepper. Sauté on medium-low until tomatoes start to break down, about 5-10 minutes. Add cream and stir, deglazing all that flavor off the bottom of the pan.

Heat the sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cooked pasta and stir. Simmer until pasta has soaked up the sauce, about 5 minutes. (If it needs a bit more moisture to finish melding flavors, add a very small about of pasta water now.) Stir in gorgonzola and parmesan. Turn off heat and allow cheese to melt into sauce/pasta combo.

Serve, sprinkling pasta with remaining cheese and enjoy.

*For my gluten free friends — this dish is easily made GF by the subbing of your favorite gluten free pasta!

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event recap: Dinner Lab Cleveland featuring Chef Matthew Mytro

Disclosure: I accepted an opportunity to share info about/attend Dinner Lab’s latest Cleveland pop up from Brickhaus Partners. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As I teased on Wednesday, Hans and I headed to our first Dinner Lab experience to 1) celebrate nine years of  wedded bliss and 2) to check out this new-to-Cleveland dining phenomenon. Brickhaus Partners‘ surprised everyone with the location of the dinner earlier that day: the soon-to-be 95 Lake complex, to be built on the location of the former St. Thomas Lutheran Church on Lake Avenue.

I have to admit — walking up to the empty, dated religious complex left me with an energetic shift: after the many years of it being used for the gathering for a spiritual purpose, I was slightly saddened for a moment knowing it was sitting unused. But upon getting inside, I felt another immediate shift as the 85 some guests plus Dinner Lab staff filling the space enlivened the environment with their excitement for food, community and surprises.

With a few loud clinks on a wine bottle, Samantha from the Dinner Lab team got things going, welcoming Chef Matt Mytro from Flour Restaurant to say a few words. His menu for the evening, Antico E Moderno, was inspired from his work in the Flour kitchen — definitely apparent in the Italian inspired dishes listed on the cards at each place setting.

dinner lab CLE menu mytro

Armed with a copy of Edible Cleveland and a handful of new culinary loving friends/dining mates — thanks to the long table seating arrangements — it was time to dine. Here’s what we had…

dinner lab collage amuse and salad mytro

 PreMeal Featured Cocktail, the Negroni Mytro

 First Course: Warm Burrata with vanilla infused potato and pickled chili

dinner lab collage salad and fish mytro

Second Course: Mock Beet Salad with pistachio, whipped ricotta, dried olive and sorrel

Third Course: Swordfish Alla Bagnara with smoked lemon & potato, caper berries and garlic & parsley

dinner lab collage pasta and dessert mytro

Fourth Course: Sweet Corn Rigatoni with lamb neck sugo, tomato and ricotta salata

Fifth Course: Cereal Milk Budino with toasted marshmallow, cocoa nibs and banana

My thoughts? While I enjoyed certain aspects of the dishes more than others, I think Chef Mytro overall knocked it out of the park:

  • The cocktail was tart yet refreshing, waking me up from a post-work slumber (there might have been a nap on a certain couch in Parma before arriving that evening) — also setting the mood for some excitement to come.
  • The burrata was lovely, but it was the addition of the vanilla to the potato chips that had our table talking. Sneaky yet scrumptious.
  • The beet salad was more cheese and less “salad” — not that I’m complaining what so ever — as the whipped ricotta was something I’d like to smear on a gluten free bagel every morning of my life. The creative use of the beets in the sauce “dots” (you’ll notice in the photo above) mixed with the cheese were a sweet, sweet treat.
  • The swordfish was perfectly prepared, but yet again, the potato stole the scene –- its lemony taste suprising diners.
  • The rigatoni was an extra special treat as Chef Mytro offered a gluten free offering for gals like me. The pasta was like no other GF option I’ve had before, and solidified my need to check out Flour in person STAT. By far my favorite course.
  • The budino reminded me of a part pot de crème, part pudding — all deliciousness. The cocoa nibs were a nice finishing touch to the last course of the meal.

LONG STORY SHORT: I owe a big thanks to Dinner Lab, Brickhaus Partners and Chef Mytro. Not only did I have a fun and unique culinary experience, I made some new friends, tried some new ingredients, plus celebrated with the love of my life enjoying some of the things I love most: community, food and the reimagining of all that is Cleveland. Cheers to the team for making Wednesday night possible — here’s to many more Cleveland chefs being featured at Dinner Lab events!

Stay in-the-know by following Dinner Lab on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. A special thanks to Brickhaus Partners for making our attendance possible — follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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event preview: Dinner Lab featuring Chef Matthew Mytro from Flour Restaurant

Disclosure: I accepted an opportunity to share info about/attend Dinner Lab’s next Cleveland pop up from Brickhaus Partners. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Images ℅ Dinner Lab. 

It’s a special day in these parts as Hans and I are celebrating our ninth anniversary today. (My how time flies!) Being fans of good food and unique dining experiences, I was pretty excited to learn that I’d be able to treat my wonderfulhusband to a night out at a new-ish to Cleveland dining opportunity: Dinner Lab.

dinner lab collage 2

Images from Dinner Lab’s Facebook photo feed

Described as “a roving night out that is forever changing and always an experience to remember”, you might be asking yourself “how does this work?” — Dinner Lab explains it on their site

  • GET NOTIFIED: When a dinner is available we’ll email you all of the juicy details.
  • BUY TICKETS: When you see a menu that looks particularly mouthwatering, you may purchase tickets on the event page.
  • RECEIVE THE LOCATION: A day before the event, we’ll send you an email revealing the location of the dinner.
  • EVENT DAY: Your name will be on the list at the door. Once in, you’re welcome to find the bar and your seat; next up, rate the food!

Brickhaus Partners is bringing the next Dinner Lab to Cleveland TONIGHT — perfect timing for our anniversary celebration! They’ve been offering clues to the dinner’s location on their Instagram feed, plus @CLE_eats and yours truly also got in on the fun so that you can figure out where it all will come together later today. Check out Brickhaus’ latest Facebook post here for your chance to win two tickets to the Chef’s Table for tonight’s dinner! Post update: A winner has been selected!

As for the food itself, we have a lot to look forward to with Chef Mytro (@chef_mytro on Instagram) from Flour Restaurant leading the charge this evening. The culinary style that he and Co-Chef Minnillo at Flour takes “old world flavors and supplements them with new techniques for an unparalleled, enhanced level of nostalgia.” I understand tonight’s menu — called Antico E Moderno – is inspired by the work they do at the kitchen at the restaurant, so I know we’re in for quite the treat.

dinner lab collage

 Pictures from the previous Cleveland Dinner Lab event — all photos from Dinner Lab’s Twitter feed

So check out all the clues, figure out where dinner will be served, and join us in celebrating the Cleveland culinary scene with Dinner Lab and Brickhaus Partners tonight. I can’t wait!

Stay up-to-date by following Dinner Lab on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and Brickhaus Partners on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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