When Jack and I were planning our trip to Italy earlier this year, I reached out to my friends on Facebook and asked for recommendations. My friend Marc forwarded my post to his friend Donna, who had just returned from a trip to Italy. Donna (whom I have never met) generously emailed me a two-paged document full of tips for Rome and the Amalfi Coast; this list included Roscioli, a restaurant just south of Campo de’ Fiori in central Rome.
In her description, Donna wrote: “Wine and Food Pairing at Roscioli’s – you have to do this if you love wine! I found out about this from Anthony Bourdain and we ended up shipping a few cases of food and wine back. One of the best food and wine pairings I’ve ever had. But be forewarned: he doesn’t like American wines. Haha! But it doesn’t matter. The wines he pours are phenomenal, better than most American wines I’ve had.”
Roscioli actually has several different locations and functions: Salumeria Roscioli (the main restaurant and salumeria), Rimessa Roscioli (wine and food tasting space that Donna recommended), and Antico Forno Roscioli (the Italian bakery). We were not aware of these distinct spots, so when we asked our hotel concierge to book us a table at Roscioli, he assumed we meant the restaurant, rather than the wine tasting. But, as often happens in life, the mix-up was pure serendipity, and our meal at Salumeria Roscioli ended up being one of the best meals we had in Italy.
Edit 4/22/17: Unfortunately Scopa closed its doors on 4/8/17. You can read about the decision here. Fortunately its sister restaurant Campo Fina still serves many of Scopa’s beloved dishes, but we will miss this charming, intimate restaurant.
One of the great perks of being in a wine club is that it’s an excuse to visit wine country on a regular basis. Jack and I joined the Williams Selyem wine club several years ago, and since then we’ve made it up to Healdsburg for at least a day trip a couple of times a year. On one of these early visits, on a very hot fall day, a few of our friends introduced us to Scopa, an Italian restaurant right on the square. We had a group of six (the largest group they can accommodate) and I remember sitting at their only outdoor table, sweating profusely. We felt like we were in Italy! Our whole table shared a variety of appetizers, pastas, and pizzas. Everything was delicious, but what I remember most were the incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs and the perfectly cooked home-made pasta dishes.
Since that visit, Scopa has been our go-to restaurant when we visit Healdsburg. On this visit we started with the Sicilian Green Olives. These are the plump, meaty, bright green Castelvetrano olives from Siciliy (which always seem a little more delicious in a restaurant than when I buy them at the grocery store). These (along with oil-cured black olives) are my favorite olives. We enjoyed them with some house-made Ciabatta bread with Dry Creek extra virgin olive oil. We also each had a glass of sparkling wine, as we were celebrating Jack’s birthday.
Jack and I have been wine club members at Williams Selyem for several years now, and one thing we always look forward to with our biannual wine pickup is the seasonal recipe that is included. We always make a point of trying out these recipes, and they have yet to let us down. Each recipe also includes a recommended Williams Selyem wine pairing.
The first (and favorite) recipe we tried was for Holiday Cioppino. Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco’s North Beach (“Little Italy”) in the late 1800’s by Italian fishermen (mostly immigrants from the port city of Genoa). It is traditionally made from the “catch of the day,” which typically includes Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish (all from the Pacific Ocean). The seafood is combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce and served with toasted bread (preferably local sourdough).
Jack has made this Holiday Cioppino on several occasions: Thanksgiving for the two of us (when I had to work), dinner parties with friends, and (just yesterday) Thanksgiving dinner for my whole family (nine of us total). Jack has made modifications to the recipe over the years, but the base of the soup has stayed pretty much the same. It’s a great treat on these cold winter nights!