A week or so before the end of the year, I dropped by Nonna to soothe my soul with some pasta and pork fat, two ingredients that have been known to bring people together in ways that even the pope cannot. I had every intention of enjoying them together in a Bolognese, but the daily printed menu had another course in store.
It wasn't just butter married with chitarri that swayed me, but uni butter, flavored aggressively with the creamy brine that urchins are treasured for, and gently with the glow of Colabrian chiles. The aroma that wafted up from the bowl when it arrived was hypnotizing, and if a large enough fork had been provided, I would have twirled the entire mass into a softball and swallowed it whole.
Thankfully Nonna only provides modest-sized utensils. I savored my dish at a leisurely pace, but I made it a point to track the dish down as soon as the holidays passed, only to find it removed from the menu.
Don't fret: Chef Julian Barsotti says it should be back on the menu this week, pending the availability of Nantucket Bay scallops that have been sequestered by recent New England storms. When they do return, he says, the dish could change a little, as most items on Nonna's menu do, but it will still be served in the same vein as what I enjoyed late last year. When it does you should seek it out. You weren't going to stick to those resolutions anyway, so you might as well cave now.
If you're wondering about the pork fat I sought during last year's meal, I got that too, in a hefty pork chop served on a bed of polenta and crowned with broccoli greens that required deliberate chewing. The pork had the full, robust flavor of a pig that had lived its life as a pig should. All meals should be this good.
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