If you live in Italy and travel around a lot, it will absolutely astound you how many primi piatti you’ll find. In Illinois, where I come from, there’s meat sauce and tomato sauce, both ladled in heaping helpings over undersalted, overcooked spaghetti. Then you come to Italy and you’re lost in a sea of pasta shapes, each with a different set of sauces that go with them. It’s mind boggling—and fun.
Lately we’ve come across a couple that are a bit unusual to find on a restaurant menu. First off is the one I had today at Ristorante Il Cucco outside of Fosdinovo. Stuffed gnocchi, or gnocchi ripieni di ricotta, spinaci e bietole, filled with ricotta, spinach and chard, with a butter and sage sauce. The plate is shown on the upper left, and on the right I’ve cut one open for you (click to see the pictures larger).
Martha’s testaroli with pesto and green beans was unusual for the inclusion of the beans, although the Genovese version of pasta al pesto traditionally includes boiled potatoes and green beans.
Ristorante Il Cucco
Chiuso il Giovedì (closed Thursdays and now closed Mon-Thursday at dinner)
Strada Statale 446
Passo del Cucco
54035 Fosdinovo (Ms)
Tel. 0187 68907
Then there is the rotolo family. Rolled pasta, often with a Béchamel or Mornay (Béchamel with cheese) sauce to hold it all together. This one was called “The Rose of Prague” because it used lightly smoked Prague ham inside the layers of pasta. We had it at Ristorante Bertocchi in Cerretto Laghi.
Albergo Ristorante Bertocchi
Via Provinciale, 4