Hello from Chipparelli’s! I celebrated a very special going away dinner Thursday night for my dear friend Mhinjine. Little Italy in Baltimore set the scene for this lovely dinner. We were supposed to see the tree lighting in Mt. Vernon, but gave up when parking proved to be impossible. The night ended up being just what we all needed. Good food, wine, people, laughter, and conversations about saving the world with healthy food, one corner store at a time.
My mom used to work as a waitress at Chipparelli’s back in the day, and the family joke is that she worked there just long enough to steal the famous recipe for their salad dressing. That may be where I got some of my waitressing skills from… or my love of salad. This salad has become famous in my family and is a staple at every Christmas Eve dinner. I’m not usually a fan of iceberg lettuce due to its lack of flavor and nutrients, but the combination of that with the oil, vinegar and freshly grated parmesan in the dressing made for buttery taste with a little crunch, making it one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sorry mom, Chipparelli’s does it better than you…
After our salads came, I started off with a glass of Chianti (my brother, the Italian wine connoisseur’s favorite). Chianti, which comes from the Chianti region in central Tuscany, is hard to describe. It reminds me of Malbec with its spiciness. According to wine-searcher.com, it is characterized by its red and black cherry character, with notes of wild herbs, mint and spice, supported by a racy acidity and mellow tannins. It must be aged for a minimum of four months. It paired really well with the Gnocchi Bolognese that I ordered.
I heard from a friend that the gnocchi is one of dishes Chipparelli’s is known for. I’m glad I took his advice! I love gnocchi and have tried quite a variety during my culinary adventures. The menu described them as handmade fresh ricotta dumplings with a traditional ragú of beef, pork & veal. These were the lightest, fluffiest little pillows of heaven I’ve ever had. This dish was so light, I did not feel like there was a ton of bricks in my stomach. I’m usually one to default to a vegetarian option when I got out to eat, but the meat had so much flavor and I’m glad I tried something different.
The night would not be complete without dessert. There is always room for dessert, and we got three forks so it worked out to be just enough. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I make an exception for anything involving chocolate and/or coffee. The Tiramisu, which literally means “pick me up” in Italian, was creamy and rich, not too heavy, with subtle notes of coffee and a light dusting of cocoa on top. Perfection. My brother made us some Tiramisu when he came back from studying in Italy and I must say he did well because this authentic home-made Tiramisu from Little Italy reminded me of what he made us a few months ago. Maybe he is the chip off the ‘ol block!
Please pay Chipparelli’s a visit next time you are in Little Italy!