Appetizers Boston Restaurants Italian

Piattini’s new Fig Jam preserves the last memories of warm Boston

This fall, Piattini, located on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay, is bringing a taste of seasonal Italy to its menu with its new fig jam. Served as an accompaniment to its popular cheese plate featuring rotating imported cheeses ($14.95), Piattini’s fig jam is a sweet treat meant to preserve and celebrate the final tastes of summer. Created for sharing, guests can select a glass of red or white wine from Piattini’s extensive list, featuring over 30 selections of wines by-the-glass, while sampling selections of cheese and the complementing jam. For those looking to do a little preserving of their own, Piattini’s five-step recipe below is as simple as it is scrumptious.

Fig Jam


  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of fresh or dry figs- stems cut
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 4-5 cups of sugar


  1. Wash figs, cut stem, and chop into small pieces
  2. Add figs to water and bring to boil
  3. Reduce heat, stir in sugar, honey, and lemon juice
  4. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring constantly
  5. Let cool and place in mason jar
  6. If you want to use right away, there is not need to boil the jar, but if you choose to consume at a later date you must seal the jar by boiling it in water for 10 minutes.
  7. Optional: You may add white raisins to jam to add texture and flavor.
Italian Pasta

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti BologneseSince I am ethnically Chinese, a traditional dinner would be rice alongside some green vegetables, fish and a meat dish. It’s what my evening meal would look like everyday growing up and so naturally; I easily grew tired of Asian cuisine. In those instances, my mom would confide in the classic Italian dish, spaghetti Bolognese, for variety every time. It is a dish I adore for its great flavors and for me personally, it always reminds me of home.

Spaghetti Bolognese


  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 5 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs
  • Basil leaves
  • Oregano
  • Minced meat
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Mushrooms
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese to taste


  1. Before cooking anything, take 1 tomato and blend it until it becomes a puree. Take the rest of the tomatoes and chop them into squares.
  2. Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the minced meat. Then add the mushrooms with the onions and garlic.
  3. Place the chopped tomatoes, the puree, mixed herbs and vegetable stock in a boiling pot, adding the meat, mushrooms, onions and garlic.
  4. Once boiling, let it simmer for 40-50 minutes until the sauce becomes thicker
  5. In a separate boiling pot, add the spaghetti and add water until covered. Boil for 10 minutes. Add salt for more flavor. Keep the pot covered.
  6. Once ready, drain the spaghetti and serve on a plate.
  7. Put the sauce over the plate and sprinkle basil leaves, oregano and black pepper over it. Then add the cheese.
Appetizers Featured Recipes Italian

The Virtuous Wife’s Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

This is the MOST POPULAR recipe tutorial on my blog! I actually learned it frm my Pampered Chef consultant, Reesa Boudreaux.

Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread


  • 1 can of refrigerated Grands biscuits
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning (I omitted)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Throw the cold 1/2 stick of butter in a bundt pan and let it melt in the preheating oven.

While the butter melts, cut the Grands biscuits into quarters. In a bowl, toss the biscuit pieces, garlic, Italian Seasoning, and Parmesan cheese together.

Once the butter is melted, add the biscuit mixture, sprinkling with any cheese and garlic that gets let behind in the bowl.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20- 22 minutes until golden brown. Turn out on a dish and enjoy!

Entree/Dinner Holidays Italian Meals Origins Pork

Holiday Porchetta with Fennel Gratin

An Italian tradition, Porchetta makes an impressive and surprisingly easy centerpiece for your holiday meal when it comes to preparation. From using an entire pig, to roast loin, or if you choose to use pork belly; this savory dish varies from region to region in Italy. Below you’ll find my recipe using pork belly. Using pork belly creates a beautiful crisp skin and a moist center of perfectly cooked and seasoned meat. The ease in preparation is amplified when you realize that it is almost “idiot proof” when it comes to cooking. The dish continues to become more tender as it is slowly cooked over time. Be sure to let the roast rest for 10-15 minutes.

Porchetta Ingredients

  • 1 pork belly 5 lbs.
  • 8 rosemary sprigs
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. cracked fennel seeds
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 white onion, coarsely chopped,
  • 2 chopped fennel tops


  1. Preheat oven to 450°
  2. Lay pork belly fat side down. Season the pork with salt, fennel seed, 4 cloves minced garlic, chopped rosemary, lemon zest and cracked black pepper mead side up.
  3. Roll the pork up and tie securely with butcher’s twine. Season the exterior of the pork with salt and drizzle a bit of the olive oil over the loin.
  4. Place the chopped vegetables (remaining garlic, rosemary, onion, and fennel tops) in a roasting pan and set the loin over top. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Lower the heat to 325° and roast for approx. 2-3 hours or until the meat registers 145° on a meat thermometer.

Fennel Gratin Ingredients

  • 3 heads fennel, quartered
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch of parsley chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • milk
  • butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigianino
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt


  1. Saute the white onion in a pan over medium heat with the olive oil until softened and translucent –about 10 minutes.
  2.  Place the fennel , onion and garlic in a roasting pan and add enough milk to come up about halfway on the fennel.
  3. Combine the parsley, breadcrumbs, and Parmigianino in a bowl and sprinkle over the fennel.
  4. “Dot” the gratin with a few cubes of butter and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the fennel is tender and the crumbs are golden brown.
  5. Plate and serve with Porchetta.


Appetizers Boston Restaurants Healthy Options Italian Origins Recipe Sources

Cannellini al Fiasco

Cannellini al Fiasco literally translates from Italian to English as “cannellini in a flask.” This is a traditional, Tuscan form of cooking that mirrors the texture and flavors that a modern pressure cooker would. Originally a glass bottle would be filled with the ingredients, sealed with a cork stopper, and left to cook overnight on the embers of a dying fire. The slow cooking method allows the beans to slowly absorb the flavors of the simple herbs, garlic, and olive oil, intensifying the flavor. All you need for this modern take on a Tuscan classic is a 32 oz.mason or ball jar with a lid that will create a great seal and a large saucepan. Cannellini al Fiasco can be served warm or chilled, either as an appetizer, side dish, snack, or tossed with pasta or calamari.


  • 9 oz. cannellini beans dried
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 clove whole peeled garlic
  • ½ bay leaf
  • 1 pinch red pepper flake
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt


  1. Soak the beans in cold water overnight. Drain and place them in the jar with the rosemary, sage, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, water, oil and salt.  Seal the jar with the lid tightly.
  2. Place the jar in a pot of boiling water and allow to cook for 3 hours.  When the beans absorb the water and the oil the beans are cooked.
  3. Carefully remove the beans from the jar and serve them in any of the ways mentioned above. If serving as a side dish or on their own, drizzle the beans with olive oil and add sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper.


Appetizers Boston Restaurants Featured Recipes Italian Origins Recipe Sources

Prezza’s crispy zucchini flowers

Zucchini flowers are a delicious and vibrant delicacy used in traditional Italian cooking. They are easily found at your local Farmer’s Market or specialty food stores. Purchase them the day you plan on preparing this dish, as they do not keep particularly well. If you have zucchini in your garden, make sure to pick only the males, because the female flowers produce the zucchini. This appetizer serves four.

Polenta Ingredients

  • 1 pt. milk
  • 1 pt. water
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 3 oz. Parmigiano cheese

Polenta Preparation

  1. Bring the milk, water, and butter to a simmer.
  2. Slowly whisk in half of the cornmeal until the consistency is very thick but still smooth. Add more cornmeal if needed.
  3. Simmer slowly for about 30 mins. Finally, add the Parmagiano cheese.

Roasted Tomato Ingredients

  • 14 Plum tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil

Roasted Tomato Preparation

  1. In casserole pan add tomatoes, onion, garlic, 4 basil leaves and olive oil.
  2. Roast in 400° oven for 45 mins. – 1 hour; stir occasionally.
  3. Remove and mash with a fork.

Fried Zucchini Flower Ingredients

  • 6 zucchini flowers
  • 1 pt of buttermilk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 3 oz. grated Parmigiano cheese

Fried Zucchini Flower Preparation

  1. In large sauté pan heat up the vegetable oil over medium high heat.
  2. Mix the flour and semolina.
  3.  Dip the zucchini flower in the buttermilk. Then dredge the flower into the semolina
  4. Fry the flowers in the oil until golden and crisp.

Final Step:

Spoon the polenta onto a small platter. Spoon the tomato on top of the polenta. Arrange the flowers on the polenta and tomato and garnish with basil and Parmigiano.


Boston Restaurants Entree/Dinner Italian Recipe Sources

Marc Orfaly’s Meatballs & Gravy

Here is a recipe from Marc Orfaly, esteemed chef and owner at Pigalle. Last night Marc taught this take on an Italian classic (for those of you that don’t know, gravy is the traditional, Italian term for red sauce) during a hands-on, casual class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Other Boston-area chefs who have taught amateur foodies interested in learning from experts include: Gordon Hamersley of Hamersley’s Bistro, Rebecca Newell of The Beehive, Brian Poe of Poe’s Kitchen at The Rattlesnake, and Thomas Frost from Fairmont Hotels.

Sauce Ingredients

  • 4 each, peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 whole white onion
  • One small can of tomato paste
  • One large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 5 basil leafs, sliced
  • 1 pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 cups evoo

Meatball Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. of meatloaf mix from supermarket (beef, lamb, pork)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. dried garlic
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano
  • S&P (to taste)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup finely ground parmesan

Sauce Preparation

  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce heat over low heat, add EVOO, add sliced garlic and cook until no color, approx. 5 min in covered pot.
  2. When garlic looks translucent, add finely chopped onion, covered, and cook until translucent for another 5 minutes.
  3. When Tender, add basil, chili flake, and tomato paste, cook under low heat for another 5 minutes.  When tomato paste appears darker, add remaining tomato product.
  4. Puree sauce with a food processor.

Meatball Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and ‘kneed’ meat until well combined.
  2. Form into balls, place onto a cookie tray and broil for approx. 5 min until brown.
  3. Add balls and all remaining fat on tray to tomato sauce, cook over low heat until they float, approx. 1 hour
  4. Cook your favorite pasta al dente.
  5. In a medium saucepan take desired amount of sauce over medium heat and toss for a minute with the pasta, allowing the sauce and pasta to become “one”.


Appetizers Featured Recipes Italian Meals

Zesty Caprese Salad

This spring, Executive Chef Peter Tartsinis of Blue on Highland gives this simple Italian dish a new twist with creamy, burrata cheese complimented by red pepper pesto, slices of warm, crispy eggplant, tomato coulis and a pinch of micro greens.


  • ½ ball burrata cheese (3oz)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. red pepper pesto
  • 1 tbsp. micro greens
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 oz. tomato coulis


  1. Slice eggplant into five, ½ inch thick pieces and coat in all purpose flour; dip pieces into egg. Wash coat eggplant with bread crumbs made up of ground toasted ciabatta, basil, oregano, kosher salt, ground white pepper and parmesan cheese. Pan fry breaded eggplant until lightly browned & crispy.
  2. For the roasted red pepper pesto, purée one can of roasted red peppers, 3 pinches salt, 1 pinch white pepper, 8 oz. grated parmesan, 2 cups of walnut pieces, and 2 tbsp. minced garlic.
  3. To create the tomato coulis purée 12 oven roasted plum tomatoes, 3 oven roasted, peeled and seeded red peppers, ½ tbsp. minced garlic, 3 pinches salt, 8 dashes of Tabasco, 6 dashes of Worcestershire, 1 oz. red vinegar and a pinch of ground white pepper.  Blend ingredients until smooth.
  4. Place ½ a ball of burrata cheese in the center of serving plate, top with ½  tbsp of red pepper pesto; top pesto with a large pinch of micro greens. Place 5 pieces of fried eggplant equally around plate; add a dollop of tomato coulis in between each piece of eggplant. Serve as an appetizer or entrée.
Appetizers Featured Recipes Italian Meals

Paul Turano’s Asparagus Bruschetta


  • 4 slices of country style sliced bread (2 inches thick)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch flat parsley (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 ball burrata cheese (thinly sliced)


  1. Combine lemon zest, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and parsley in a bowl forming a gremolata. Set aside
  2. Rub asparagus and bread with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. On a pre-heated, outdoor grill cook the asparagus and bread.
  4. When the asparagus is tender and still warm, toss with the gremolata.
  5. Place the bread on a plate with the asparagus mixture and the burrata cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve family style.
Appetizers Boston Restaurants Featured Recipes Italian Origins Recipe Sources

Roasted Tomato & Polenta

Recently named one of the 50 best restaurants in the city by Boston Magazine, Prezza is located on Fleet St. in the North End.

Polenta Ingredients

  • 1 pt. milk
  • 1 pt. water
  • 4 tbsp. of butter
  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • 3 oz. parmigiano cheese

Polenta Instructions

  1. Bring the milk, water, and butter to a simmer.
  2. Slowly whisk in half of the cornmeal until the consistency is very thick but still smooth. Using the remaining cornmeal as needed to create desired thick and smooth consistency.
  3. Simmer slowly for about half-an-hour.
  4. Add the Parmigiano cheese.

Roasted Tomato Ingredients

  • 14 ea. plum Tomato
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch of basil

Roasted Tomato Instructions

In a casserole pan add the tomato, sliced onion, garlic, four leaves of basil, and olive oil.  Roast in an oven for 45 minutes to an hour at 400° F.  Stir occasionally.  Mash with a fork when finished.


Spoon the polenta onto a small platter.  Spoon the tomato onto the polenta and garnish with basil and Parmigiano.