Executive Chef Chris Marchino – Spiaggia of Chicago

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“Sprezzatura”

Spiaggia
Spiaggia

I start this posting with a lesson learned the hard way: NEVER EAT BUFFALO WINGS AND DEEP DISH PIZZA PRIOR TO A FINE DINING EXPERIENCE!!!!

Stuffed to the point of exhaustion from lunch (the wings and pizza), dinner was upon us.  I’d never faced this obstacle of forgoing the tasting menu as this was indeed the ultimate insult to one’s palate.  Knowing that passing out at the table was not an option, although I thought long and hard about it, I finally decided on the “Strati di Vitello” (veal cheek and sweetbread with morels, ramps and Castelmagno) and Tony went for the Faraona (Guinea hen, Chesapeake Bay blue crab, nebrodini mushroom and herbs.)  Having decided to go straight for the entrées, we were pleasantly blindsided with an out of this world dish of gnocchi smothered with truffles — this was wayyyy over the top.  But not to fear we made room for the gnocchi and waited on edge for the entrées.  Side note – – the truffles didn’t just fall from heaven, although the experience was of that distinction, the restaurant knew of our recent visit to Savini Tartufi in Tuscany which is the critical link to us being at Spiaggia.

It was on a recent truffle hunting excursion in Tuscany at Savini Tartufi that led us to Spiaggia.  Listed as a supporter of Savini products we were sold on the idea of consuming truffles from the Savini family as the experience was life changing and very educational.  So, after learning of the Spiaggia’s philosophy and that “Sprezzatura” plays such a major role in the overall ambiance of Spiaggia, without hesitation a reservation was made and we were off to Chicago.

After being told those two gentlemen who inhaled the truffle gnocchi and still found room for entrées are about to explode, Chef Marchino appeared.  The room slowly stopped spinning as I quickly snapped out of what was progressing into a food coma.  Chef Marchino introduces himself and mentioned our being at Savini Tartufi.  Long story short, he’d stayed with the Savini family and worked with them to harvest truffles so, immediately we connected.  Truth be told, the connection happened when the truffle smothered gnocchi hit the table followed by the exquisitely executed entrées.  Chef Marchino was so generous and charismatic, I went from fine dining and the edge of food coma to “where can I get the best Stromboli in Chicago.”  Stuffed and here I am asking for Stromboli.  My state was truly altered as the food was truly exceptional.   Chef Marchino laughed and said “I know Stromboli.  I’ll make Stromboli for lunch tomorrow if you wanna come back.”  Enough said, it was on – – lunch at Spiaggia Café was set and my fifteen year search for the “BEST” Stromboli was about to end!!!!!

 Lunch:

Today, I returned with camera at the ready – – sooooo glad I did!!!!!   The wait was finally over – – STROMBOLI.

Spiaggia Café Bar
Spiaggia Café Bar

 

Spiaggia Café Bar - Court of Urbino - "Sprezzatura"
Spiaggia Café Bar – Court of Urbino – “Sprezzatura”

 

Bread
Bread

 

2010 Fratelli Revello Barolo
2010 Fratelli Revello Barolo

 

Fritto Misto (calamari, white shrimp, zucchini, jalapeno, fennel, neonata aioli)
Fritto Misto (calamari, white shrimp, zucchini, jalapeno, fennel, neonata aioli)

 

Chef Marchino presenting "The Stromboli" and Tony's priceless expression.
Chef Marchino presenting “The Stromboli” and Tony’s priceless expression.

 

Farfalle (Prosciutto, English peas, Pecorino Moliterno, Controne pepper, mint) and The "WICKED" Stromboli
Farfalle (Prosciutto, English peas, Pecorino Moliterno, Controne pepper, mint) and The “WICKED” Stromboli

 

Almost Done!!!!
Almost Done!!!!

 

    Chef Marchino signing the menu
Chef Marchino signing the menu

 

Chef Marchino - The Court of Urbino - "Sprezzatura"
Chef Marchino – The Court of Urbino – “Sprezzatura”

 

Bottomless Pits and Chef Marchino
Bottomless Pits and Chef Marchino

Chef Marchino, thank you for one of the most amazing first impression through your carefully crafted cuisine, heartfelt generosity and charismatic personality.  The truffle smothered gnocchi, veal and Guinea hen made for an incredible meal at Spiaggia.  And The Stromboli – – “WOW” my fifteen year wait ended perfectly with your mind blowing Stromboli.  Please say yes to a repeat!!!!  Oh, anyway you can overnight one to DC???   Thanks again and see you soon.

 

 

 Up Next: The Grill Room and then Rome Cavalieri

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