It's not called “comfort food” for nothing. The most recent Slow Food Saratoga Region monthly restaurant dinner was held at what has become my favorite local restaurant (as regular readers of my blog most likely already know) – Cafe Lazio in Queensbury, N.Y., a marvelous location for great Italian and Italian-American comfort food. We filled the restaurant to capacity and were treated to family style service of Chef Adriano DiMario's marvelous cooking.
Chef Di Mario started us with his house-made foccaccia with tuna and arugula. Not a complicated dish, but so good and satisfying, this was an example of one of the best elements of Italian cookery – keeping it simple and letting good ingredients shine and paly well together. Sometimes simple isn't easy – at least not easy to do very well. DiMario's deft touch with ingredients and balance really helped this shine.
Two pastas came next, linguine with two different sauces. The first was a white clam sauce and the other a deceptively simple pomodoro with pancetta. White clam sauce is one of my favorites and DiMario makes it about as well as anyone, though this version was not his best, perhaps having suffered somewhat from being prepared in volume. Nevertheless, it was still quite good. The pomodoro, though, was just superb. The tomato sauce was bright and deep from the pancetta. I could have just eaten that and been happy. DiMario's freshly baked Italian bread made a great mop for left-over sauce.
The main course was a medley of porchetta, the best eggplant parm on the planet, wonderful roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe and cauliflower with a bagna cauda sauce, all delicious and satisfying with generous portions of each placed on the tables.
DiMario's tira misu suffered a technical mishap, but retained it's wonderful flavor. That DiMario could put out such wonderful food for so many at the same time in his small kitchen, essentially by himself is a small miracle and a testament to his skill. That he could do it for the special Slow Food Price of $35pp (for members) inclusive of tax and gratuity makes it that much more special.