PANAMA CITY - In Southern Italy, the cuisine reflects the season, with just enough al dente pasta to soak in the fresh flavors from the garden. "We use a lot of fresh veggies, pasta, seafood, and very little meats," said Mike Ferrucci, owner of Ferrucci Ristorante. "As a chef, I make a mixture of cuisine from the North and South (of Italy). In the North, they are big on rich meat dishes, more potatoes, polenta and veal dishes. In Southern Italian, especially, we are trying to use as much in season, fresh locally grown."
Though Ferrucci has lived in the U.S. for 21 years, he and his wife, Ingrid Ferrucci, go back to his native Italy every year.
"My whole family still lives there," he said. "Every year in September, we close the restaurant for two weeks."
With two brothers and one sister who own three restaurants between Naples and Rome, Italy, there is always a lot of food involved during their family get-togethers.
"One restaurant started with my dad as a kid in 1978," said Ferrucci, who attended culinary school at Scuola Alberghiera Pinetamare, a school, hotel and restaurant in Pinetamare, Italy. "Family things I miss a lot of are eating local food and drinking local wine - drinking and local fun. There's a small town on the coast, Gaida, we always go to when we go back. One of first things I want is seafood. Of course, we can get it here, but Mediterranean flavors are different. A snapper here and there taste like two different fish."
Ferrucci will be demonstrating his recipe for snapper with capers, lemon and white wine May 17 at Somethin's Cookin,' 93 E. 11th St., Panama City.
"People love it. When we open, I bring fresh fish from the market every day," said Ferrucci, who added, "the classes are very easy. The feedback I get from people is they tried to make the dish at home and it came out good - I like that."
Ferrucci Ristorante, 301 Harrison Ave., has served Italian cuisine downtown since '95. For the last few years, Ferrucci has bought his seafood from Tarpon Dock.
"They are our neighbors, right over the bridge," added Ferrucci, whose restaurant is located only 0.3 miles from the seafood market on East Beach Drive. On Friday morning, Ferrucci prepared Penne Alla Caprese at Ferrucci Ristorante. Though it has been served as a special, the dish is not on the menu.
"The pasta will be hot, but the sauce will be room temperature. It's light for summer with the garlic and tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and basil," he said. "It's a
Southern Italian recipe from the Isle of Capri. When you see anything with the name Capri, you usually find mozzarella, basil and tomatoes."
Though Ferrucci presented the dish garnished with a fresh sprig of basil, he also had chopped fresh basil into the mix.
"This is something to make in the summer and let it sit," he said. "This is almost a borderline pasta salad, a warm pasta salad with only a little temperature. Everything in the South (of Italy) is barely cooked to preserve flavor. That's where pasta al dente comes from. When just done, it's done."
With most Southern Italian cuisine requiring preparation right up until serving, everybody lends a hand.
"That's the fun of it. Everybody pitches in. Someone's cooking pasta and another one's chopping olives," Ferrucci said. "When the whole big family is involved, we tend to sit longer at the table, having fun."
Every ingredient of the Penne Alla Caprese could be tasted, from the fresh basil to the garlic, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and imported mozzarella - BelGioioso.
"No one ingredient is to overpower the other too much. It's about finding that balance. For an excellent dish, you should be able to bite it and tell all the ingredients," Ferrucci said.
The penne and mozzarella gave the mouth more to chew on, while the juicy bites of diced tomato soaked in the olive oil, basil and garlic.
"Sometimes at home I will add some shrimp to it," said Tania Monteith, who has worked at Ferrucci Ristorante for nine years. "I lived in Italy for six years and the simple dishes were actually the tastier."
Ferrucci suggested serving a small portion of the penne dish with salad and bread.
"The height of tomato season in Italy is August. I have one sister who is an avid gardener, and I would go to her house in the summer and grab a tomato and grab some lettuce, and we would have a meal," he said. "I also like to get a little bread and grill it and rub it with a clove of fresh garlic."
For a dipping oil, add a little fresh cracked black pepper and salt to extra virgin olive oil.
"I have cut fresh basil as well and add red pepper flakes for a little spice to it," Ferrucci said.
He recommends pairing the pasta with Falanghina from the coast of Campania north of Naples when serving the dish. "The white wine comes from the same region as the dish and has the flavor and aroma of that area," he said. "For me, if drink it with eyes closed, I feel like I'm home."
Penne Alla Caprese is similar to Insalata Caprese, the traditional Italian antipasto of layered sliced fresh tomato, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil and that resembles the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag.
"If you buy mozzarella in the store, add a little salt and drizzle it with a good olive oil, extra virgin olive oil. I change olive oils all the time - sometimes Spanish or
Greek, but countries around the Mediterranean. A lot of people don't realize olive oil goes bad after a while; smell it. Buy very little bottles and use it," said Ferrucci, who also recommends buying imported pasta, such as Barilla or De Cecco. "Any good Italian pasta holds its texture in dishes."
Penne Alla Caprese 1 pound Penne pasta (imported) 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, chopped 6 medium size Roma tomatoes, ripe (organic), chopped 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed Salt and pepper to taste 1 ounce fresh basil Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
In a bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and the mozzarella. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and let sit at room temperature. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water. Follow the cooking directions on box. When done, strain and toss with the tomato and mozzarella mixture. Add Parmigiano cheese to taste. Top with fresh basil. Enjoy! Makes 4 servings. Source: Mike Ferrucci, Ferrucci Ristorante
For more choices, visit the Dining tab at PanamaCity.com.
Angelina's Pizzeria & Pasta: 4005 W. County 30A, Seagrove Beach; 231-2500
Borago: 80 E. County 30A, Grayton Beach; 231-9167
Carrabba's Italian Grill: 13820 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama CityBeach; 230-4522
CJ's: 3900 Marriott Drive, Panama CityBeach; 588-6992
Enzo's Pizza and Grill: 1322 Beck Ave., Panama City; 215-4562
Ferrucci Ristorante: 301 Harrison Ave., Panama City; 913-9131
Joey's on the Beach: 2521 Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach; 234-5515
Luigi B.G. Pasta & Pizza Factory: 2105 N. Cove Blvd., Panama City; 785-9411
New York's Famous Pizza & Pasta: 1000 E. 23rd St., Panama City; 215-5639
Olive Garden: 2397 State 77, Panama City, 769-4002; 15701 Panama City Beach Pkwy, Panama City Beach, 235-4225
Pana Roma Pizza & Pasta: 840 W. 23rd St., Panama City; 769-9466
PanamaPizzeria: 17140 Front Beach Road, Panama CityBeach; 249-7437
Pizzeria Napoli: 3217 U.S. Business 98, Panama City; 522-8900
Salvatore's Pizza & Wings: 14658 Front Beach Road, Panama CityBeach; 249-0407
Spicy Noodle Italian Bistro: 13667 E. Emerald Coast Parkway, Panama CityBeach; 231-0955
Sweet Basil's: 11208 Front Beach Road, Panama CityBeach; 234-2855
Original Post By: http://ift.tt/1gCVf8V