If you have been reading this blog, you know that Cristina’s father was born and raised in Sulmona which is in the Abruzzo region of Italy. So, when A Mano posted their dates for their Tour of Italy menu I quickly went to OpenTable and booked a reservation for a night when they were featuring the Abruzzo region. Best decision I’ve made in some time.
We had some great meals last year in Pescara and Sulmona. In fact, all of our time in the region seemed to based on eating and watching the World Cup which makes for a perfect vacation.
We decided to make our reservations early and in fact we were the first diners for the night. We were given our menu’s which including the prix fixe menu covering Abruzzo. I was determined to order only that, especially since it is a steal at twenty-eight dollars. Yet, the menu, which is seasonal, looked so good that I really was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep my resolve. I did. Cristina decided to order off the menu which I was happy about because that meant more food for us to try. By the end of the night, at least from my point of view, this was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had.
For antipasti, I had ricotta and prosciutto fritters. Considering my only experience with fried cheese is just mozzarella sticks and the best version that I know of these cheese sticks is in a bowling alley in Houma, I was thoroughly impressed. The prosciutto was cut very finely so that is was really there to just give a little hint of the cured meat. Cristina ordered the Olive Misti, mixed marinated olives. Being a new fan of olives, I enjoyed her appetizer as well.
For our primo course, I had the Maccheroni alla Chittara with sweet and spicy chili’s with olive oil. This dish was a perfect example of how simple dishes can be the best dishes. This pasta, made on a guitar like instrument, was simple and the sauce was flavorful with the spicy and the sweet being perfectly balanced. This was ultimate comfort food. Cristina went with the fun to pronounce gnudi which is ricotta dumplings. Hers came in a brown butter sauce with local shiitake mushrooms. Cristina recently realized that she loves mushrooms thanks to a cooking demonstration on our cruise. Her pasta was very rich and delightful.
For secondo, I had Sugo di Maiale. This was tomato-braised pork coppa & roasted peppers with polenta. And it was perfect. Again, this is a simple rustic dish that I just thought was amazing. The pork was one of the most tender cuts of meat I’ve ever had. Cristina said the only steak that was comparable to the one she ordered was the one at Herbsaint. We finished the evening by sharing the chocolate and cherry semifreddo.
Most people will say that they would never pay a hundred dollars for a meal. We rather go to place like A Mano once a month than eat at Olive Garden, Chili’s, Applebee’s, and Outback once a week. The amount of money comes out to be the same. However, we get so much more value for our one meal than we would at those four meals. We got to try fresh food (A Mano means by hand which is how they make all their pasta) that is unique to that one restaurant. More importantly, each of our courses reminded us of our meals in Italy. Specifically, it reminded us of the flavors in the kitchens of Cristina’s relatives.
Note: This restaurant closed in 2013. It’s a food memory now.