Sunday, April 14, 2024

Arturo’s Hosts Villa d’Este Chef’s Dinners

If you hurry and make reservations you can still get a taste of the superbly simple (and simply superb) Italian cookery of Luciano Parolari, long-time chef of Italy’s lavish Villa d’Este resort, at a pair of dinners hosted by Arturo’s Ristorante (6750 N. Federal Hwy., 561/997-7373).

Tonight and tomorrow night the elegant Boca Raton restaurant features Parolari and Villa general manager Danilo Zucchetti presenting a four-course meal of the kind of cuisine that draws everyone from globe-trotting foodies to celebrities like George Clooney to the 400-plus-year-old property overlooking Lake Como.

Of particular note is Parolari’s specialty, risotto, the deceptively elemental blend of rice and stock that in most restaurants translates as “rice with glue sauce” but in the chef’s talented hands emerges as a creamy-dreamy dish of perfectly al dente rice spiked with cherry tomatoes, pesto and soft, burrata-like mozzarella, a preparation he created in honor of (sometimes) sunny South Florida.

I had the chance to sample that and several other of Parolari’s dishes at a preview lunch yesterday, and for anyone looking to get away from the veal Parmesan-fried calamari-red sauce on everything Axis of Culinary Evil, a meal like this will be a revelation.

We began with the poetically named “fish triology,” a single succulent scallop on a bed of silken pea puree, a pair of shrimp on what tasted like an eggplant salad and a witty play on spaghetti carbonara that substituted fettucine-like strands of meltingly tender cuttlefish for the pasta, which were then napped with a plush, egg-thickened sauce studded with crispy bits of pancetta.

For a main course were striped bass that flaked at the mere suggestion of a fork and filet mignon topped with a golden sabayon and accompanied by baby artichokes, asparagus, carrot and sauteed cubes of polenta. Dessert was another triology, this one highlighted by tiny packets of brittle, gossamer phyllo enclosing a filling of warm Nutella.

The dinner menu itself is even more elaborate, with a choice of three appetizers, four pastas (including that killer risotto) and four entrees. And, of course, a selection of desserts. Cost is $85 per person, which is more than worth it to taste the kind of Italian cuisine that’s actually eaten by real Italians.

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