Already known for their prowess in marrying Indian flavors with Italian cuisine (butter chicken calzone WHAT), Superkhana in Chicago, Illinois has another ace up their sleeve with a lamb korma pizza that’s a must have. It all starts with a velvety korma gravy, which is an Indian dish that has meat or veggies braised with yogurt or cream. The star protein on this pie is savory lamb in meatball form, a perfect topping to the fusion fever dream that this pizza is. Throw on some pecorino and mozzarella and destination nirvana complete.
This creation from chefs Yoshi Yamada, Zeeshan Shah, and Jason Hammel is further proof that the blank canvas of pizza dough can lay ground for an endless list of creative modern takes on all kinds of dishes from global cuisines. So here’s to blurring borders and linking eager palates together through the burning curiosity of chefs that choose to push the boundaries of creative cooking. More often than not, the results are a delectable hit – just ask anyone who has tried Superkhana’s lamb korma pizza.
Butter chicken, an Indian dish, is considered a favorite by many and owes its universal appeal to it’s creamy, indulgent sauce that enrobes tender chunks of chicken. Also, butter and chicken — it’s a name that invokes mouth-watering visions of each item somehow coming together beautifully.
Now imagine it suddenly becoming hand-held, ready at your fingertips for many convenient bites. Superkhana in Chicago, Illinois somehow made this a possibility by incorporating an Italian twist — make it a calzone. It’s wild on paper, but if you think about it, a calzone serves as the perfect vessel for the golden goodness of butter chicken.
Born from the imagination of Chefs Yoshi Yamada, Zeeshan Shah, and Jason Hammel, the butter chicken calzone represents the modern takes on Indian cuisine that Superkhana hangs its hat on. Through unique avenues of technique and application, Superkhana has become a Chicago hotspot in the short time its been open, one where homage to traditional dishes is shown through a modern lens. In short, the restaurant is celebrating both Indian and American cuisine through innovation rooted in a mastery of core cooking principles.
One of the country’s most renowned fine dining restaurants has to be the Anaheim White House. This opulent Italian steakhouse and its celebrity chef, Bruno Serato, has been recognized with James Beard awards and more for its delicious take on Italian fare with a slight French twist.
Photo courtesy of Anaheim White House
Serato hasn’t had it easy over the past couple of years, however. In February 2017, the Anaheim White House suffered over $1 million in damages in an electrical fire, causing the restaurant to shutter for over a year as it rebuilt. It’s been reborn exactly the way it was before, though, and Serato has kept the menu and his mission consistent the entire time.
Photo courtesy of Caterina’s Club
That’s included his philanthropic work with Caterina’s Club, an organization named after Serato’s mother that provides over 4,000 meals a day across 29 different cities. Serato kept that work going even while his kitchen was being reconstructed, and to date has helped provide nearly 3 million pasta meals in need.
All of this happened while his organization trained over 100 children in the hospitality industry and helped close to 200 homeless families move into a safe home.
With the White House now back up and running, Serato hasn’t changed a single thing about day-to-day operations. The pasta dinners that will feed thousands are still prepared in the same kitchen space as his extravagant menu, showcasing his commitment to both high-quality food and giving back to the community that’s supported his rebuild.
You can learn the full account of Serato’s inspirational story and drool over some of his specialties, including an exquisite poached salmon with white chocolate mashed potatoes, in the above episode of Foodbeast’s Taste The Details.
The first time I visited Southern California’s Eataly location in Century City, I was floored by all the wonders the Italian marketplace and food hall had to offer. They had authentic Italian meats, pastas, cheeses, as well as a bevy of restaurants that highlighted the spirit of traditional Italian cooking. It was a veritable playground of sorts for anyone in love with the culture and its expression through food.
Now, one of the most iconic cities in the country will be getting their very own spot to boast.
Eataly is opening its first-ever location in Las Vegas and the authentic Italian market place will find a home at the new resort Park MGM in December.
“Eataly Las Vegas will showcase our continued evolution,” Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly USA, said. “We are integrating our retail store and restaurants further than ever before to create a more immersive and interactive experience surrounding premier food offerings.”
Las Vegas will be the sixth US location for Eataly, with 35 total locations worldwide. The new Park MGM will feature culinary programs which include Roy Choi’s Best Friend, Bavette’s Steakhouse, and NoMad restaurant.
With the hundreds of activities that Las Vegas has to offer, Eataly’s newest spot has just climbed to the top of the list
Having been to Italy, I can tell you that the “old-school Italian” joints we are familiar with here are nothing like the real deal. Their menus are built on the Americanized mantra of pizza, pasta with tomato sauce, and sandwiches. You’d be lucky to find much else on the menus at these spots, which captures only a fragment of the vast delicacies Italian cuisine encompasses.
There is so much more than “tomato gravy” and “slices of pie” that the boot-shaped peninsula has to offer. The breadth and depth of regional fare that makes every segment of the country you travel to unique is significant, to the point of re-imagining the average American’s experience with true Italian food.
Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis understands this well. Her food recommendations to those traveling to Italy change depending on what folks want to eat, because, as she told Foodbeast, “it’s a very regional country. If you’re a red wine lover and meat lover, go to Florence. Florence is very meat-oriented. If you’re looking for fish and white wine and tomatoes and olive oil, go south.” Even the pasta types can change by region, as De Laurentiis describes southern pasta as more durum-based and chewier, versus the softer, eggy noodles you’ll find up north.
There’s a movement of Italian specialists looking to present that regionality to the US and move us past the stereotypes of pizza and tomato sauce. From the constantly-rotating tour of Italy at Philadelphia’s A Mano to the modern refinement of San Francisco’s Perbacco, these culinarians are attempting to convince the nation to look beyond the norm and dive deep into an intricate world of tastes, textures, and sensations.
At Philadelphia’s A Mano, for example, you can get a gastronomic tour of Italian fare you may not have been exposed to before. Everything is made by hand, as the restaurant’s name implies, and the regions of Italy available to sample change with the season. For example, you can find dishes native to northern parts of Italy, like hearty eats from the Alps, in the winter. In the summer, though, southern Italy’s brilliance is on full display with the spices of Calabrian chile.
The chef-owner here, Townswend Wentz, is more known for his French flair, and it shows in some of the dishes. However, one of his chefs, Michael Millon, has been given reign of the kitchen, and bringing the best of Italy’s seasons from around the country into the beloved Philly spot. Local critics were impressed with the authenticity and finesse behind dishes like a honeycomb tripe with guanciale (pork cheeks) and chickpeas, or branzino filet with turnip rounds, nduja (a spicy, spreadable salami) vinaigrette, and orange.
When dishes sound this exciting to eat just on paper alone, it’s easy to see why a place like A Mano stands out. It’s seasonal appeal with a high-end twist creates an environment open to those Americans wanting to branch out from their version of Italian comfort. It’s a great progression in the ongoing mission to present the true regional flavors of Italy to the United States.
Photo courtesy of Culina
One chef that executes this mission to perfection is Luca Moriconi. His modern approach to the native Tuscan foods he grew up on results in a refined yet rustic menu at Culina, his spot at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. Moriconi’s menu is one that displays several different approaches to crafting a dish. Sometimes, like with his pappardelle and wild boar sugo, he’s drawing from his background and heritage. Other times, he tinkers with fresh, local ingredients, like imbuing California artichokes into his Risotto al Carciofi. The changes in inspiration give a modern twist and adds Moriconi’s identity to the plate.
The one thing that is consistent across his menu — and Italian cooking, for that matter — is letting simplicity reign. Individual ingredients lend their native flavors to harmonize in cohesive and often unexpected flavor combinations.
At Culina, you’ll find that in dishes like the Sformatino di Bietole, a savory “flan” of Swiss chard where the “vegetable is the protagonist,” as Moriconi put it to Foodbeast. The dish is few in ingredients, yet each one, from the sharp pecorino romano to the powerful aroma of shaved truffle, adds notes of umami, fruitiness, and tang that blend together into the perfect accompaniment to the earthy chard.
While a savory “flan” sounds like something upscale and nouvelle, the Sformatino is actually a traditional Tuscan dish. Sure, the Culina version has some modern additions like a quail egg and truffle, but that’s just a testament to Chef Moriconi’s tribute to tradition while adding elegance and his own personal touch.
“[Chefs] want to communicate how we grew up, how lucky we were to eat that food,” Moriconi says. “We should serve our identity but [in an elegant fashion], for our kind of customers, because we are working in a beautiful environment.”
It’s not just the sformatino at Culina that encompasses this philosophy. Nearly every dish plays on that simplicity with a touch of flair. That includes the wild boar sugo, based on the meat Chef Moriconi’s father used to hunt and served with fresh made pappardelle. There’s also a pomodoro sauce that Moriconi reimagined into a savory tomato bread pudding, topped with perfectly charred pieces of grilled calamari. And the L.A. Tagliata — a New York Strip that gets served with grapes, herbs, and parsnip puree — proves that steak and fruit can pair together in a delicious harmony.
That touch of refinement to an otherwise rustic menu is the model that several other Italian chefs around the country are following. It allows them to introduce regional Italian cuisines in a new light and get people thinking beyond the standard tomato sauce. A long-time standard bearer of this model is Perbacco, who has become a fixture of San Francisco’s dining scene in the past decade that it’s been open.
Perbacco’s ownership inspired its mouthwatering tributes to Piemonte cuisine, a northern Italian region known for its hearty wines, rich braises, and raw, cured meats. Proprietor and host Umberto Gilbin is from the region, and has melded that authenticity with the culinary skills of Chef Staffan Terje.
Gilbin is from Torino, which is inside the Piedmont region of Italy. He’s previously described Piemonte food as “sophisticated” with “a little more intrigue in the cuisine” compared to the rest of Italy. That “intrigue” has spread its way across Perbacco’s menu to create some unique dishes that add a modern twist to tradition.
Chief amongst these is the Agnolotti Dal Plin, which takes the rusticness of a game meat stew and plops it into perfect little pillows of pasta. The Fritto Misto utilizes traditional Italian flavors like fennel and lemon, then throws in a Spanish curveball with piquillo peppers. And Perbacco’s Rabaton, a traditional Piedmont spinach and ricotta gnocchi, are elevated with elements like a cherry tomato sugo and marjoram compound butter.
Each of these dishes comes with the sophistication of Piedmontese tradition, but adds a tiny extra element in that throws your tastebuds for a complete loop. It’s how Perbacco and other restaurants like it can spread the word of regional Italian food: presenting tradition with a memorable twist to leave you talking about it for weeks to come.
What’s key amongst these chefs is that a passion for their food and sharing it comes first above all else. “It’s not about making money first,” Moriconi says. “The pride of the chefs come out and say ‘it’s not only pasta.’ The chefs, I think now, they want to serve food to be happy, you want to be happy that your guests are eating something good that you come from.”
It’s important that passion comes first so that America has a chance to sample these unique regional cuisines that would otherwise be untouched. Sure, we love to visit Rome, Florence, and other major Italian cities. But we also leave many culinary stones unturned by passing on cities like Naples and regions like the Amalfi Coast.
De Laurentiis feels that visitors are still not open enough to these places, particularly the less tourist-friendly regions. “People aren’t as comfortable in Naples as they are in other cities,“ she explains, “but Naples has some of the best food in all of Italy.”
Imagine tasting tried and true Italian fare that takes you through the country on a culinary adventure, right through the areas that tourists rarely explore, like the pristine Amalfi Coast. This is what chefs like Moriconi accomplish with their menus that give us a taste of these parts of Italy. Presenting their native cuisines allows us to look beyond the tourist-centric destinations and crave more than just pizza, pasta, and marinara sauce from Italy.
Instead, we’ll be searching for sformatino, the savory “flan” that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in any other country’s historical cookbooks. And the thought of spinach and ricotta-stuffed rabaton will make us question why these haven’t exploded in popularity in the United States. Thanks to these masters of their native cuisines, there are realms of Italian flavor that are finally coming to light, like a lost comestible civilization whose secrets are now being revealed.
And so far, across the country, they are doing a fantastic job in sharing their world with us.
Italian food lovers have a lot of options when it comes to what kind of alcoholic drink to pair with their pasta or pizza. There’s obviously a slew of Italian red wines like Pinot Grigio and Barolo as well as aperitifs like Campari and Aperol — although those are usually consumed before a meal — not to mention cocktails like the iconic Negroni. However, if you want to a pair a beer with your bresaola, it can seem like your options are few and far between.
There’s Peroni, the standard bearer – Italy’s equivalent to our “king of beers.” And Birra Moretti, the slightly lesser known brand — which is no longer brewed in its homeland – if you’re lucky. However, Jason White, Beverage Director at Brooklyn’s Barano, wants you to know that there is far more than just those two Italian staples. He’s built an extensive, varied beer list, which gives guests options that are as considered as their wine offerings. Barano’s beer program pays homage to, among other things, the burgeoning Italian craft beer movement.
So, who better to give us advice on what we should be trying when we want a change of pace in our Italian brews? Here are five beers White recommends:
Birrificio Italiano’s Tipopils
As one of the beers that really set a new benchmark for Italian producers a few years back, this zesty and grassy German Pilsner continues to make a great stir throughout the modern beer community as one of the original cornerstones for the Nuovo Italiano movement in artisan beer production. This style pairs well with a great range of items — my favorite is with a true Italian pizza with the focus on a really well-made crust and fresh, bright toppings to balance the beautiful tart, earthy, and smoky flavors of a great crust.
Birrificio Del Ducato’s Beersel Mattina
One of my personal favorites. The story of how this beer came to be is almost as important as the impact it’s slowly making. Based around New Morning, a farmhouse style Saison, it has refreshing qualities that will match any seasonal Spring or Summer dish; be it vegetable-driven, seafood, or any fun protein that is not red meat. This beer is floral, crisp, bright, and a great pairing with almost any earthy and acid-driven pasta, rich seafood dish, or non-red-meat dish.
This is where it gets really fun. A Wild Ale [editor’s note: a wild ale is a kind of beer brewed using yeast or bacteria in addition to Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the typical yeast usually used] fermented with yeast on Barbera grapes that is left to spontaneously ferment in oak vats. The blur or hybridization of genres is becoming more and more relevant beyond the movement of experimentation in beer and wine. And just like wine, we should heed the thought that, like a great Bordeaux or other great full-bodied red, this also needs time to develop more balanced character. We currently have a few bottles of the 2015 vintage and it’s showing well, though still young. This is an awesome pairing for our Salt Meadow Lamb with Escarole, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Cannellini Puree.
Birrificio Torrechiara’s Panil Barriquée Riserva
This cognac-barrel-aged sour red was one of the first artisan products shown to the US market that was truly unique in the way that the native yeasts and barrel-aging give way to a very sour and complex beer. You could compare this to a full-bodied, tannic red wine, and even trade-in since the acid and tannin from this beer will actually help highlight the flavors of the sear and juicy flavor of a medium rare steak… especially over a wood fire!
Birrificio Le Baladin’s Xyauyù – Barrel 2010
A beer? A Tawny Port style fortified wine? Both?! Kind of! Well, maybe in certain flavor characteristics. Xyauyù (pronounced eck-see-eye-yoo), and it’s different variations, are some of the most unique beers on the market. Internationally. Period. Founder and Master Brewer, Teo Musso, will go as far a singing to his Oxidized Barley Wine during the two and a half year minimum it takes to age and delicately oxidize using the Solera Method — the same method used to make Sherry. For the Barrel version, he ages the beer in Trinidadian rum barrels. This with chocolate, in general, is awesome. But this with our Torta Caprese chocolate tart filled with fine & raw dark chocolate in an almond tart shell on top of a Calabrian anglaise? Heaven.
What’s not to like about pizza? It’s simple, convenient, and it even tastes good cold. There’s not much you can mess up. Well, after visiting a Denver-based Italian restaurant that claims to be, “Denver’s best pizza,” Gordon Ramsay quickly discovers it could actually be, “Denver’s worst pizza.”
In this classic clip from Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay visits Pantaleone’s, a Denver-based Italian restaurant that has touted itself to have “Denver’s best pizza,” on the building’s signage.
Ramsay ordered a calzone, a meatball sandwich, a sausage pizza, and some linguine with clam. But, it was clear none of the items were up to his standards.
If you’re going to proclaim yourself as the, “best pizza” of anywhere you better make sure you can back that up. Before the pizza even arrived, Ramsay was disgusted.
Soon after his wretched meal, Ramsay made his way to the kitchen where he asked the staff one by one if they actually thought that they were selling, “Denver’s best pizza.”
“My sausage pizza, it was dripping in grease,” Ramsay shouted. “The dough was so thick, parts of it were undercooked. There’s a huge mistake on the awning out there,” said an exasperated Ramsay. “Because I think you just cooked me the worst pizza in Denver.”
With three generations working under one roof, it’s clear there’s a respected legacy behind the name and food at Pantaleone’s. However, that makes “Denver’s worst pizza” part of a family tradition.
Family tradition can be taken very seriously — especially within the food industry.
Some could argue that this type of hereditary thinking can lead to ritualistic ways of cooking that can result in decreased food quality.
Still, no matter how bad the food actually was at Pantaleone’s, it was probably better than the lunch buffet at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
We’ve seen popular YouTuber and culinary giant Miniature Space tackle some mouthwatering foods before. From the world’s tiniest steak to the smallest omelette, no dish is too small for him to attempt.
Ever wonder what it would be like if he tackled an entire pizza…only bite size?
In his latest video, the Internet personality creates an entire pie large enough to fit on your big toe. Not that it’s advised to put pizza on your feet, but hey, you do your thing.
He professionally rolls out the dough, sauces it, dices some onions and peppers, and smothers it in mozzarella cheese before throwing the assembled pizza into the tiny oven.
Sure his toppings may not be our first choice, but we applaud his ability to captivate audiences with his therapeutic cooking techniques. It also helps that every dish that comes from his fingertips looks adorable.