Just when we were resigned to our fate of enjoying a generic a less than awe-inspiring lunch, as a result of the reservation confusion at Giusti, our guide waved us to a table. In near disbelief, we asked “We get to eat here?” “Yes, of course”, he responded as though it were obvious. Apparently, their agonizing five minutes of conversation had been simple jovial banter between two Italians.
It is hard to say whether the suspense made what can only be described as a perfect meal, even more perfect. From the moment we sat down, it was as though we were a part of the Giusti family, participants in an intimate culinary experience. They toured us through their kitchen, allowed us to watch them prepare food and shared time-tested recipes. Several bites into our meal, Matt and I shared a glance that expressed words we could not find: that this would be a meal we would never forget and a meal that would shape the direction of Matt’s entire career as a chef. I could see the gears turning in his mind, absorbing the flavors and synthesizing the experience.
While there were so many exquisite, yet simple dishes, but the one that most stood out was the gnocchi fritti. They took us into the kitchen and Nonna (grandmother) guided us through the process of creating this spectacular dish. First, the dough is hand rolled and cut for each order. Next, the oil, heated in a cast iron pan, must be tested for just the right temperature, which she did with a spoon rather than any modern gauge. The gnocchi are then quickly fried and served with culatello ham, a prized variety of prosciutto di
region. Nonna even sent us home with her hand-written recipe, pictured below. The result was a savory, puff pastry-like dumpling of divine flavor. Parma
The beautiful simplicity of the food, complimented by the authenticity that permeated Giusti, inspired in us an intense sense of gratitude. I know this is the approach that Matt will strive to embody in the new restaurant. We are eager to translate and share this sumptuous experience with you, our future guests. Mille grazie per leggere!
- Chef Brandon McGlamery