Palladio Trattoria is a restaurant in Bonita Springs, Florida serving Italian cuisine. The restaurant is owned by Emanuela Calcara (Chef Emma). Chef Emma is from the Piedmont region in Northeast Italy, and comes from a family of 6 generations of restaurateurs. Although Chef Emma features items on her menu from Northern Italy, she can deftly switch her culinary tack. This is in part through her training at The Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and post graduate gigs with Live Nation Entertainment and kitchens of celebrity chefs.
The event was billed as Cicchetti (small plates) da Palladio, and featured wine pairings served by Nick Parker, area sales representative for Domaine Select Wine and Spirits. There were five wines featured that day, two whites and three reds, all from Northern Italy. As for food, there were five courses, and even a piano player that day.
The first wine featured was a Flor Prosecco. As mentioned in our tasting, Prosecco is Northern Italy’s contribution to sparkling wine. This particular Prosecco was developed by celebrity chef Mario Batali and collaborators, and is the house sparkling wine served in all of Chef Batali’s restaurants. It was a bit dry for a brut sparkler which I liked.
This was served with a duo of plated items, the first being a cucumber canape with a cucumber base, smoked trout, mascarpone cheese, tarragon and lemon zest. The second was a “parfait” or tower of ring-molded grilled octopus with cranberry bean and pickled onion dressed with limoncello, parsley and olive oil. This was extremely good and my second favorite of the day.
The second white wine, a Ribolla Gialla from the Italian winery Bastianich was next. It was good, but fell a bit flat on my palate. This was my least favorite wine of the day. The pairing here was with a stuffed zucchini flower, a seasonal item widely available this time of year in Italy. The flowers were stuffed with Prosciutto di Parma and two different cheeses. These were a Pecorino Sardo, a salty Sardinian cheese made from sheep’s milk that was balanced with Burrata which has a Mozzarella shell stuffed in this case, with Ricotta cheese. It was good, and a small palate cleanser for the rest of the day’s repast.
Eggplant Parmesan was served for round four. It was good, brightly acidic and paired with a Chianti Classico from the Gran Toscana winery. There are a number of different designations of Chianti. For the sake of brevity, the classico designation refers mostly to where the grapes used in the wine are grown where a superiore classification has more to do with production and aging requirements.
We finally finished with a stuffed and roasted pig, paninetto all porchetta. Traditionally Roman street food, this dish is anything but that in the 21st Century. Marinated in white wine and spices for days, the suckling pig is deboned, flattened out, stuffed with a mixture of thyme, rosemary and other herbs, rolled up and roasted. The porchetta was carved and served on sourdough bread. Condiments included picked onions, a mostarda (concentrated fruit syrup flavored with mustard oil) and a stone ground mustard combined with ground walnuts. This was incredible and beyond delicious. Served with this was a Brecciarolo Superiore from the Velenosi winery, a low tannin, full-bodied wine going nicely with this dish.
After the meal, an opt in/out tasting of a more coveted wine was available to attendees which happens at the end of each WTCC gathering. A magnum of 1997 Barolo from Giacomo Borgogno was opened, decanted and served to those opting in. Not paying attention and unaware of the tradition, I was not privy to this but heard very good things.