Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Piena Luna

Via Panfilo Castaldi, Milan, Nov. 24—
  • Luna Piena, via Lazzaro Palazzi 9, Milan; tel. 0229.528240

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    Luna Piena

    SOMETIMES WE JUST luck out; there's no other way to explain it. Our hotel is in a part of Milan we don't know, not that we really know any part of Milan. Around the corner there's a bookstore; they happened to have one copy of a restaurant guide; two restaurants recommended happened to be nearby (two out of a hundred!); one of them is closed on Sundays; that leave Luna Piena.
    It's a curious place, run by a man with a mission: to preserve the cooking of Puglia as his grandfather remembered it from his grandmother. Lindsey wanted a risotto Milanese; after all, we're in Milan, nowhere near Puglia. But on the other hand we've been in Milan a few times; we've had risotto Milanese; we've never visited Puglia.
    One of the first things to come to the table was little cubes of stale bread, lightly fried in oil and flavored with pepper, cinnamon, and oregano. Flavored very lightly, I hasten to add. You'd hardly know there was cinnamon and oregano there: but there was. Then we opened with fava purée with chicory and orechietti tossed with strong (but soft!) pecorino, Parmesan, and tomatoes; and went on to maccheroni with sausage and tomatoes and stufatello di manzo in pignatta. This latter turned out to be long-braised cubes of beef flavored very deeply with spices and herbs and tossed with thick slices of potato. Every dish was deep and resonant; you'd swear we were eating in the sixteenth century.
    Rosato di primitivo; rosso di primitivo

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