My Dinner with Lorenzo, Tullio, and Valerio
Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of attending a luxurious and mouth-watering four-course Italian meal and press event at the fabulous Acqua Pazza restaurant in San Mateo, organized by San Francisco public relations specialist Susie Biehler. Not only were the Neopolitan dishes a delight, but half the proceeds of the evening benefited a special cause -- helping out the Galano Dairy Farm in Fossa, Abruzzo, which was decimated during the Abruzzo earthquake of April 2009. Dina and Enzo Galano now live with their family in the side room of one barn that was left intact. The dinner benefit helped fund a temporary shelter for the Galano's cows before the harsh winter snow and wind set in.
Restaurant owners Enzo, Tullio, and Valerio Rosano partnered with Slow Food San Francisco Founder Lorenzo Scarpone to host the event, which also included an emotional slide show he presented highlighting the damage done to the Galano Farm.
The Rosano brothers' mother "Mamma Carmela" -- whose century-old Italian recipes grace the Acqua Pazza menu -- flew in from Naples, Italy to prepare a special authentic Abruzzese menu for the occasion.
"When things settled after the quake, the G8 Summit convened in L'Aquila," said Enzo Rosano. "So we served a meal inspired by what was served when the Summit's members met on July 9. This meal gained a lot of notoriety in Italy and we were pleased to honor it here."
While sometimes I find Italian food can be heavy, the dishes served were light and yet full-bodied, and by far some of the best I have had. As a native New Yorker who grew up with frequent visits to little Italy, and who also traveled to Italy, I am thrilled to say that this was the real deal. The meal began with antipasti, consisting of tomatoes with mozzarella and basil. The mozzarella was creamy, light, and not oversalted as can frequently be the case. The next course, homemade spaghettini with regional Abruzzo sauce, was just the right balance of hearty tomatoes and spices. Trust me, you cannot make this at home. For the next course there was a choice of veal en croute with local truffles or Branzino Acqua Pazza, or the fresh fish of the day that was so picturesque, I had to photograph it. My veal was tender and delicate, served with wonderful roasted potatoes and vegetables. Dessert was an assorted tray of rum soaked, fruit adorned, and cream filled delicacies perfect for satisfying one's sweet tooth during the holidays, although they were so good that visits year round are definitely in order. The meal was complimented with delicate and fruity wine pairings from the region.
Visit Sustain Abruzzo for information on how you can support the Abruzzo community, and host a fundraising event.
About Acqua Pazza in San Mateo, CA
A breath of fresh Amalfi Coast air in downtown San Mateo, Acqua Pazza opened in June of 2008 and is run by the Rosano brothers: Enzo, Tullio and Valerio. (Read history: http://www.acqua-pazza.com). The spacious interior, washed in sea and sand colors, includes a 15-seat outdoor patio, 70-seat main dining area, and an eight-seat bar. Acqua Pazza is available for full buyout, yet smaller private parties may wish to reserve the eight-seat "Positano Room" or 30-seat "Capri Room" on the restaurant's mezzanine. Special offers at Acqua Pazza include a live performance by Italian pop star Pasquale Esposito every last Wednesday of the month, a three-course Sunset Dinner menu offered daily from 5 to 6 p.m. for $20, and a $20 per person all-you-can-eat-and-drink happy hour daily from 5 to 6:30 for parties of six or more.
The restaurant is located at 201 E. 3rd Avenue in San Mateo, CA. Dinner is served nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. and lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are recommended. All major credit cards are accepted. For more details, visit www.acqua-pazza.com, or call 650-375-0903.