Wow! We’ve been getting some great press lately…

August 19th, 2011

NBC TV30 LIVE VIDEO
In June, we were proud to be featured on NBC TV, Hartford. Jason Hawkins came to visit, interviewing me, my partner Pasquale Salvatore, and even a few of our loyal customers. You can check out the video at the link. Send me a comment, tell me what you think of it! VIDEO

 

WATERBURY OBSERVER, BEST OF WATERBURY 2011
It is particularly heartwarming that we earned so much praise in this years’s Best of Waterbury. As you all know, Waterbury is my home town. And while we are very pleased that we have garnered so much statewide praise since opening La Tavola, to have it named Waterbury’s Best Restaurant, and me Waterbury’s Best Chef truly means so much to all of us here at the restaurant. READ THE FULL ARTICLE

BEST CHEF
BEST RESTAURANT OVERALL
BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT
RESTAURANT WITH THE BEST DESSERTS 

 

Ah, Spring!

March 24th, 2011

While I am writing this, I am pleased to say that we just dodged a bullet, a “snow bullet.” The weather predictors were warning about 7 inches of snow and fortunately it turned out to be a mere inconvenient dusting. Looking at the 8 day forecast on early morning TV, I see days of 30’s and 40’s, and one in the 50’s. Spring is here, but we all know in Connecticut that we must get through the next two months of Mother Nature’s fickle ups and downs. We’ll make it; winter is behind us.

Spring brings the anticipation of fresh local vegetables, al fresco dining on the patio, and a busy calendar of charity events. As you know by now, I like to take La Tavola on the road to assist several worthy causes. Here’s a list of popular events where you can sample tastes from many of Connecticut’s best restaurants (La Tavola among them) while supporting some worthwhile causes.

April 12, 2011 FLAVORS of CONNECTICUT
Presented by Hartford Hospital at the Aqua Turf Club, Plantsville

From the event web site, “With the Flavors culinary galas, the American Liver Foundation taps into our new food-savvy culture and offers an immersive environment in which guests can experience new tastes, sights and sounds – almost as if they were starring in their very own food show with a local celebrity chef!

Each Flavors event spotlights premier regional chefs and creates a high-end, exclusive, gourmet experience for a limited number of guests. Nowhere else will you witness firsthand these culinary experts creating a menu that goes above and beyond the usual restaurant fare. Flavors gives chefs the perfect opportunity to expand their creative juices, and they do so with gusto!” To purchase tickets to Flavors, or to help in any other way, phone 203-234-2022.

May 19, 2011 SHARE OUR STRENGTH’S TASTE of the NATION HARTFORD
Marquee Catering and Events, Hartford

From the event web site, “Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Hartford invites you to savor the finest food, spirits and wines. Join Chef Billy Grant of the new Bricco Trattoria, Restaurant Bricco, and Grant’s Restaurant, voted ‘Best Restaurants’ by Hartford Magazine, and over 35 of Connecticut’s hottest chefs for an evening of culinary excellence.

Taste of the Nation Hartford’s local grantees are all working to fight hunger in Greater Hartford:

  • Foodshare
  • Hartford Food System
  • End Hunger Connecticut!
  • No Kid Hungry Connecticut Campaign

    Taste of the Nation
    Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® is the nation’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to making sure no kid grows up hungry. Each spring and summer, the nation’s hottest chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at nearly 40 events across the United States and Canada, with one goal in mind: to raise the critical funds needed to end childhood hunger.

    Share Our Strength
    Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry Campaign, —a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015—Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger, both nationally and at the state level.

    June 2, 2011 STAGES, where wine and food star
    Palace Theater, Waterbury, to benefit the 2011 Annual Fund

    I have participated in this event for several years, and it is always one of my favorites. We Waterburians are all very proud of our beautiful Palace Theater, and this event not only helps keep the theater operating, but it also give me the chance to work with some of the area’s best chefs. This year, the event committee asked me to coordinate the chefs and the menu, and I am honored to take on the challenge.

    This years’ event web site is still a work in progress, but take a look at last year’s web site to get an idea of just what a special event STAGES is.


  • You’ll find me at popular food events

    September 27th, 2010

    September has been a busy month so far, but I was able to participate in a local event that deserves special recognition. On Sunday, September 12th, I had a tent at the 10th Annual Celebration of Connecticut Farms event at Laurel Ridge Farm in Litchfield. The event was hosted by the Connecticut Farmland Trust and was a celebration dedicated to showcasing local Food and Wine. The event was a huge success and sold out just as expected. I had the opportunity to meet internationally renowned chef, TV personality and industry legend Jacques Pepin and spend time with a great number of chefs and owners of some of Connecticut’s most popular restaurants. All of the proceeds from the event go to the Connecticut Land Trust’s mission of preserving local farms and promoting sustainable food sources. With all of the fresh and local ingredients I work into all of my recipes, I was honored to be part of the celebration. See the Connecticut Farmland Trust’s website for more information about what they do and who they help.

    I invite everyone to look for me this coming Thursday, September 30th on “Better Connecticut” on WFSB at 12:30 p.m. I will be on the show to promote Connecticut Restaurant Week, which is taking place October 4-10. La Tavola is one of dozens of restaurants throughout the state participating this year and the event happens to coincide with Connecticut’s 375th anniversary. For those looking for more information on restaurant week, visit the Connecticut Restaurant Associations Website. I will be showcasing one of my favorite recipes on “Better Connecticut” that will be part of La Tavola’s restaurant week menu selections. Please tune in as I am sure it is going to be a very fun afternoon. Visit Better Connecticut’s website for more information on the show. If you’d prefer to see me live, I’ll be participating in two great Connecticut events before the holidays as well.

    On October 7th, I’ll be helping the Morris Foundation raise money to benefit local citizens with substance abuse and behavior health problems by participating in their “In Good Taste” fundraiser at Villa Rosa in Waterbury. All of the proceeds from the event go to help the Morris Foundation and wealth of services they provide to a great number of people in need. The event is a showcase of what Waterbury has to offer for food, wine and pastries and is sure to draw a large crowd. I’ll be showcasing some of my recipes at the event and can’t wait to get a taste of some of the other local restaurants in the area. If you are interested in attending or donating to this event, you can find information about it on the Morris Foundation’s Website.

    After the Morris Foundation’s event, I am honored to be asked to showcase some of my popular recipes at the 4th Annual Foxwods Food & Wine Festival, November 5-7th. I will be cooking alongside some well known and well respected chefs. I am looking forward to meeting and spending time with such well know chefs as Aaron McCargo Jr. from Food Network’s Big Daddy’s House and Sunny Anderson from Cooking for Real. I know the event is going to be a huge success and can’t wait to showcase some of my greatest recipes and sample some of those of local and national food celebrities. I know it will be a weekend filled with great food, great wine and lots of great times with friends. If you love good food and good wine, this is one event you don’t want to miss. More information on the Food and Wine Festival, including other chefs who are participating can be found here.

    A pleasant afternoon visit to the (mushroom) farm.

    August 2nd, 2010

    Eventually, I imagine all the old factory buildings in Connecticut will be put to new uses. Many have been already, yet most remain idle waiting for the perfect visionary to see the potential in each of these icons of Connecticut’s manufacturing past. Gregg Wershoven is one such visionary, but he isn’t feeding raw steel into stamping presses or creating parts that will join others in a bigger product. Gregg is growing mushrooms.

    Some say that Waterbury’s old Chase Brass and Copper mill along the Naugatuck river was the world’s longest factory building in its day. Today, much of it is empty and in disrepair but some parts of it are already home to smaller shops and factories. Like everything else in Waterbury that used to be great, I believe the building will again be full and vibrant… it’s just a matter of time.

    Gregg’s “real job” is that of a building contractor who specializes in bathroom remodeling. He knows the investors who own a piece of this gigantic building, and they asked him to keep an eye on it for them. Late one night a couple of years ago, something went wrong in the building and Gregg was called to oversee the repair. While deep in the cellar (basement is the correct word, but cellar plays better to this mushroom story) somebody must have said, “Wow, you could grow mushrooms down here.” Gregg heard it, but wasn’t really listening at the time.

    A short while later, Gregg was at his Vermont weekend retreat when his neighbor dropped by to visit. He brought over some beautiful mushrooms that he said he had, “grown in his cellar.” Driving home, Gregg thought, “mushrooms,” “cellar.” Not too much longer after that, Gregg became a farmer.

    Trial and error. Studying, reading, researching. Eventually, beautiful colored oyster mushrooms (yellow shown, you should see the blue and the pink!) were being harvested, and Gregg decided to find out if Connecticut’s talented chefs would have any interest. It seems fitting that he first presented his oyster mushrooms to Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford. Wisely, Gregg introduced himself as a “farmer,” because that is what he is. Restaurants always have an ample supply of salespeople dropping by unannounced. The best restaurateurs know that they can learn from a good vendor rep, and will find a few minutes to chat. But a visit from a farmer is a rare treat. Farmers are cool, and talented chefs like Max’s Scott Miller will always want to look at whatever a farmer brings by. Scott said the mushrooms were “beautiful,” and asked “how much?” Gregg hadn’t really thought about pricing, so they negotiated something around the going market rate.

    Pumped by his success on his first sales call, he dropped by Bricco. The Bricco culinary team loved the mushrooms, and luckily Billy Grant himself was within earshot and overheard the conversation. Billy introduced himself, was equally impressed with these beautiful specimens and told Gregg to next visit Grant’s. “Tell them Billy said these are the mushrooms we buy now.” I speak with Billy almost daily, and the next phone call we had was about Gregg’s oyster mushrooms.

    Gregg is passionate about his mushrooms, a labor of love more than a job or even a business. But of course, sales are important. As an upstart business, Gregg is still trying to find the perfect balance between having mushrooms ready to harvest, and chefs ready to buy. In the La Tavola kitchen, Gregg knows he can almost always come by with some of his beautiful oyster mushrooms… I’ll find a way to use them.

    I want to see Gregg’s business flourish, because he’s a great guy with a great idea. Selfishly, I’d like to know that as long as I need mushrooms to cook with, I’ll have these beauties. So, I encourage all of Connecticut’s top chefs to call Gregg Wershoven at 860-919-5264, and hopefully begin a relationship with Mountaintop Mushroom Farm.

    We’ll bring La Tavola to you!

    June 24th, 2010

    I just had a great Father’s Day with my daughters, and as usual, I did a lot of the cooking. As much as I love to cook for my family, it made me think that many of you might not!

    That’s where we can help you. Just imagine being a guest at your own party… you simply visit with me before-hand, and we’ll plan your menu together. make it as simple as you like, or as extravagant. Don’t work hard at your next house party… enjoy it with your family and friends. I’d be honored to cook for you in your home.

    Tanti auguri,

    Nicola

    Here it is! My White Bean Dip recipe.

    June 14th, 2010

    Ingredients:

    2 (13.75 oz.) cans of butter beans, drained and rinsed
    8 cloves roasted garlic (see method below*)
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
    1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
    salt & pepper to taste
    1 tbsp chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley

    Dip method:
    Place all ingredient in a food processor, purée until smooth. Serve with crusty Itlian bread.

    *Roasted garlic method
    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel away the outer layers of a garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins. Eat as is (a sweet, mellow tasting garlic spread, without any added ingredients.) Can be spread over warm Italian bread, or as a recipe ingredient above.

    Working on my White Bean Dip recipe for you

    June 10th, 2010

    I am flattered to have had requests for this recipe from so many of you. We serve it at “a la tavola” with warm, crusty bread. I have not been holding it back; I’ve just been really busy due to the immediate success of our restaurant (thank you all for that, too!) and the many worthy events that we participate in. So, my very next priority is to re-work my recipe for you, for home quantities. I don’t imagine you want the six gallon recipe? LOL

    So come back in a few days, and it will be here.

    Might be a great thing to make for Dad on Father’s Day. Or simplify the gift giving and drop by for a Gift Card. I am a father of three girls, and whenever I get a restaurant gift from the family, I take them there with me! So a La Tavola Gift Card for Dad is a win:win.

    Tanti auguri,
    Nicola

    Proud to be included at the Palace Theater STAGES Dinner

    May 21st, 2010

    For the second year in a row, I’ve been invited to present a course at the (Waterbury) Palace Theater’s STAGES dinner, Thursday, June 3, 5:30 pm. This year, the main course is mine. I chose to do a “Kurobuta Pork Duo… farm-raised pork tenderloin, with Keed’s Farm yellow chard & braised baby suckling pig, pan-seared Roman gnocchi.” Many chefs regard Kurobuta pork to be as prized as Kobe beef.

    Other chefs participating in the event are Prasad Chirnomula, Thali, New Haven; Noel Jones, PolytechnicON20, Hartford; Jerry Reveron, The Woodward House, Bethlehem; Rick Kerzner, Emily’s Fine Catering, Forestville; Richard Morotto, Bin 300, Wolcott; and Annie Gallardo, Carole Peck’s Good News Café, Woodbury. I love these dinners when chefs collaborate. I have worked with Noel and Jerry before, and I am looking forward to getting to know Prasad, Rick, Richard, and Annie.

    There’s an hors d’oeuvre reception provided by Jordan Caterers, Cheshire, and Bob Bourassa Custom Catering, Waterbury. The dinner is 7 tasting courses, with wines by Connecticut Distributors, Inc., Do Vallé Wines and Distribution, and DotCom Wines.

    The event benefits the Palace Theater Annual Fund each year. You can get more information at palacestages.com » » ». This is the 4th year, and the event sells out each year usually from last year’s guests! I understand that as of today, there are just about 8 seats available. If you’d like to attend this fantastic dinner in what we all think is Connecticut’s most beautiful theater, call Natalie Lawlor, the Palace’s Development Officer. 203-346-2009

    Taste Of The Nation May 6th

    April 24th, 2010

    Please join me and La Tavola Ristorante on Thursday May 6th at 960 Main Street in Hartford from 6 to 9pm for the annual Taste Of The Nation to raise money to end childhood hunger in Connecticut. Proceeds for this event will be shared by Foodshare, Hartford Food System and End Hunger Connecticut. You’ll be treated to the finest selections of food and beverage from more than 30 restaurants. Tickets are available at Strength.org

    Nick Mancini

    please watch the video. for better viewing, click the HQ button after starting the video next to the time line

    We would love it if you would help us spread the news of this great cause. If you would like to place this video on your website, your companies website or blog you can download the code for that here. All you need to do is grab the code that says embed and copy and paste that into your web page, and just like that you will have the video on your blog or website.

    Administrative Professionals Day April 21st

    April 20th, 2009

    It’s that time of year to give appreciation to your administrative professional. So why not give that special someone a La Tavola Gift Card.  Administrative Professionals Day is this Wednesday April 21. Think of it as a special treat for that one unique person who has helped you through good days and bad days. They just find a way to make your business a success.

    203.755.2211