Thursday, May 7, 2015

Italian Comfort Food Coming to Carmel {Edible Monterey Bay}

May 5, 2015 – this piece went live on the Edible Monterey Bay blog. Read it there.

Italian Comfort Food Coming to Carmel
Story by Camilla M. Mann
Accompanying Photos were Provided by Il Tegamino
(see the EMB blogpost to view those)

May 5, 2015 – The former GM of Cantinetta Luca is getting ready to open a home-style Italian restaurant of his own called Il Tegamino in the picturesque Court of the Golden Bough in Carmel. Giuseppe Panzuto and his brother Salvatore previewed their new restaurant Saturday as part of the 23rd Annual Winemakers’ Celebration. “It will be homey,” said Giuseppe, who plans to open the doors in July and feature Neapolitan comfort food using family recipes. 

Hailing from Naples, Italy, the Panzuto brothers named the restaurant as a tribute to their mother, Rita, who collected cooking pots. Il tegame is one of the most classical Italian pots, characterized by a flat bottom, short sides, and two handles. Il tegamino is a smaller version of the pot. With fond memories of growing up in Rita’s cozy kitchen, Giuseppe and Salvatore hope to create the atmosphere of being in a genuine Italian kitchen. 

Though the menu is not yet set, they are exploring favorite recipes that their mother made. Giuseppe waxed nostalgic about her eggplant parmesan and her lasagna di carnevale. “You have these little meatballs and eggs. You know it’s not like what Americans think of as lasagna,” he said. 
Carnevale falls just before Lent, when Christians abstain from indulging in rich foods. And, sometimes, meat is avoided altogether. Carnevale derives from two Latin words—carne (meat) and vale (farewell); so it’s literally ‘Farewell, meat!’ Lasagna di Carnevale is a classic Neapolitan dish filled with meat and cheese. Some versions include salami and hard-boiled eggs. The idea behind the dish is to use up whatever meat you have in the house before Lent. 

The small bite they served at Saturday’s preview was another traditional Neopolitan dish, Sformato di Patate, creamy potatoes mixed with Italian meats and cheese and baked under a blanket of butter and bread crumbs.

Giuseppe resigned from his most recent post as GM of Schooner’s Coastal Kitchen at the Monterey Plaza Hotel in March to focus on the new endeavor.

Il Tegamino will be located in the Court of the Golden Bough in Carmel-by-the-Sea, in the courtyard behind the Cottage of Sweets. It’s part of a reinvigoration effort that includes opening the Alexander Smith tasting room and the addition of new fountains through the efforts of Denny LeVett. Like their recipes, the Court of the Golden Bough holds a bit of old Europe. ‘The Golden Bough’ refers to the Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid. The titular hero, Aeneas, bearing a tree branch with golden leaves was allowed to travel through the underworld unscathed. 

The courtyard used to house a restaurant that, for four decades, served as a meeting place for locals and visitors and fed City Hall employees, something the brothers hope to replicate with Il Tegamino.
The menu at the new eatery will be largely influenced by Southern Italian traditions, featuring easy and simple recipes. “Many of the dishes will have as few as three ingredients but will be full of freshness and flavor,” Giuseppe said. “It will be like inviting people into our house—into our family kitchen.”

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