Since our late March return from Abruzzo, Chef Cicala’s been playing with some dishes inspired by our trip. Our travels in Abruzzo took us through the southern half of the region, from L’Aquila to the villages of the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, across the highest elevations of the Apennine mountains and along the most unspoiled stretches of the region’s coastline. The variety, breadth and quality of the ingredients, flavors and dishes were astounding, even to Cathy and me, who’ve traveled this ground many times. What was also apparent was that, though Abruzzo remains a place where tradition is honored and forms the basis for all cuisine, respectful innovation allows the “cucina” of this incredibly diverse and naturally stunning region to continue to evolve. At restaurants in medieval mountain towns and sleepy fishing villages, we tasted creations that were seamless extensions of “la cucina tipica abruzzese.” It was humbling but also revelatory (the photos here were taken by Le Virtù staff member Kateri Likoudis; see our Facebook page for other beautiful images from our trip).
Chef Cicala has created a new spring menu, a reflection of our most recent experiences in Abruzzo, with the requisite respect. Our new dishes, either direct translations from Abruzzese tradition or Joe’s interpretations of the regional cuisine, express a deepened understanding for and appreciation of the region we honor.