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Grana Padano


Kentaro Torii, GVCI´s Chef of the Year

Mario Caramella, GVCI president has announced who is GVCI Chef of the Year and said: “As every year, we nominate one of us as Chef of the Year. In the past, we have awarded those who had endured serious life threatening situations, who had found themselves in the middle of bombings or terrorist attacks. It´s always great to be able to nominate someone for better reasons and, for a change, this year we will award a non Italian chef who makes Italian Cuisine... he´s one of the Chefs that we, at GVCI call the Third Generation Italian Cuisine Chefs: KENTARO TORII”.

Kentaro Torii is a 29 year old Japanese chef. He´s currently the executive chef of OChre Italian Restaurant & Bar, Singapore.

Born in Yokohama, the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture, he attended culinary school and worked at DaDa, a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant. Impassioned by the Italian culture and food, he left for Florence to learn the language and everything he could about the country. He then moved to the city of Pavia, in Lombardy, famous for its risottos. There he joined the Al Pino Restaurant as an assistant chef and acquired a grounding in the cuisines of the north with its rich, hearty fare.

Chef Kentaro next relocated to Sardinia and there he immersed himself in the cuisine of the south and the bounty of seafood. He then went on to head the fine dining Italian restaurant at the Mariana Resort and Spa Hotel in Saipan, where he led an international team.

Chef Kentaro moved to Singapore in 2006 and worked as an executive chef at Tavolo Italian restaurant. Today, Chef Kentaro is leveraging on his experience to meld authentic Italian flavours with modern influences at OChre.

Click on photos to enlarge:


Giorgio Nava received the Award for Best Italian Restaurant in Southafrica

95 Keerom, GVCI´s associate Giorgio Nava´s Restaurant in Cape Town, has received the 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Award for Best Italian Restaurant in Southafrica. There are no secrets to this acknowledgement: “There is a lot of con-fusion around, that’s why we are successful with our simple and classic cuisine”, says Giorgio, this proudly "Milanese DOC" who makes norther italian cuisine, is very meticulous and pays a lot of attention to the ingredients.


Susy Masseti opened her new Restaurant: Il Masso

Chef Susy Masseti opened her new place in Bahrain, Il Masso. In her own words: "We have opened our place a month ago and I am very proud! We also have an organic orchad. In summ, it's a dream come true!" In bocca al lupo!


Francesco Farris opened “Zio Cecio”, his new venture in Dallas, with honours!

GVCI veteran Francesco Farris opened his new restaurant “Zio Cecio” in Dallas, his town of residence since 1991. Above anything else, Francesco enjoys cooking and being a host to his customers. He owns a unique cooking style, with a vast knowledge of Italian cuisines in particular of his native Sardinia. So this is a not-to-be-missed-experience! To make this experience even more fullfilling, he was awarded 5 stars which is the top rate in the US!

Praises as appeared on Dallas News:

Every neighborhood needs a cozy, reliable Italian spot. Find one in your quarter where you can also count on a warm welcome, food that’s a cut above the ordinary, great service and some nice wines, and you’re in fat city.

Zio Cecio, Francesco Farris’ new restaurant on West Lovers Lane, has already become such a go-to place for Park Cities pasta-seekers, many of whom no doubt remember the chef-owner from his days at Arcodoro and Pomodoro, which he used to run with his brother Efisio. (Efisio and his wife, Lori, still own that restaurant.)

The family hails from Sardinia, and black-and-white photos of Farris’ relatives gracing the deep coral-colored walls reinforce the feeling that Farris is welcoming you into his home. The affable host plays the part of the jolly uncle (Zio means “uncle,” and Cecio is a nickname for Francesco), urging diners to try this, try that, let me fillet that branzino for you — I’ll make you something special.

In fact I was recognized as a critic, but to witness Farris communing with diners at every last table, one has with the impression that all who walk in the door are treated as long-lost — or newfound — friends. Farris is an equal-opportunity doter.

If it’s Sardinian dishes you’re after, you’ll have to hunt and peck around the menu a bit. There’s nothing with bottarga (dried mullet roe), but there is grilled octopus. Unfortunately it drowns a bit in its copious amount of spicy tomato sauce. There’s also wonderfully tender baby octopus antipasto in a squid ink sauce the color of midnight. Served on orzo the menu identifies as “homemade,” it’s an appealing starter, though oversalted when I sampled it.

My favorite antipasti were carpacci. Tenderloin sliced paper-thin, strewn with capers and shaved Parmigiano and drizzled with good olive oil, was simple and correct. Even better were thin-sliced scallops drizzled with olive oil and garnished with microgreens, slivers of blanched tomato and (weirdly) lemon-grass stalks.

The orzo mentioned on the menu notwithstanding, the pastas are not made in-house, though they are fresh, brought in from Fresh Pasta Delight. Often referred to as “Jack’s Fresh Pasta,” the firm supplies many local restaurants. Farris says the owner uses Farris’ recipe for pasta destined for Zio Cecio, though to my palate, Zio Cecio’s pastas have the same taste and texture of other Jack’s Fresh Pasta I’ve tasted around town. It’s fine, but some of the shapes, such as spaghetti, have a texture that’s less than ideal — not quite gummy, but almost. The sheets used for ravioli-type filled pasta, like mezzaluna or quadratini, are better, if a bit thick; they don’t have the silkiness you can get in a good handmade pasta, nor the appealing texture of a great dried pasta.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that although I loved Farris’ carbonara sauce — a classic eggy, cheesy version with the slight variation of guanciale (cured pork jowl) used in place of pancetta — a good dried spaghetti, one that gets some nice texture from being cut using traditional bronze dies, would suit it better.

Quadratini alla mentuccia — midsize ravioli with a smooth filling of potatoes, ricotta and a good hit of fresh mint — has a more Sardinian flavor; it’s lovely tossed in a gentle, fresh and bright-tasting tomato sauce.

Off the menu, you can also get gnocchi sardi. Bathed in a meaty, not too tomatoey Bolognese sauce, the (imported) semolina dumplings are wonderful.

It’s too bad Farris gives the Sardinian dishes short shrift, as the more generic dishes are much less successful. Among the secondi, thyme-crusted lamb chops were beautifully cooked, but a reduction of red Cannonau wine sweet as a port sauce ruined the dish. And osso buco, that 1970s dinner party cliché of a dish, makes an appearance on mashed potatoes. Its sauce, which traditionally features diced aromatic vegetables, is puréed into a gravylike texture. The giant shank, covered thus in gravy and sitting on that mash, has good flavor, but those textures render it monotonous.

But a couple of specials were so good I’d come back for them anytime.

The first is a simple branzino roasted in a salt crust, filleted tableside and drizzled with fresh, fruity olive oil. The menu proposes other salt-crusted whole fish for two, priced at $62.50, but Farris usually has a branzino on hand perfect for one, for $37.50 to $42. It’s lovely served with sliced, simply grilled vegetables.

The other is fabulous suckling pig roasted with myrtle leaves. Burnished gorgeously, it bursts with juicy flavor, a wonderful, rich yet delicate porkiness mingled with a sort of sweet bay flavor from the myrtle. Farris does right in serving it with just some good roast potatoes. He assures me it is available more often than not.

Arcodoro and Pomodoro is the only other Dallas restaurant I can think of that serves Sardinian-style suckling pig, so a comparison is inevitable, and Zio Cecio’s comes out the winner by far. When I had it several months ago at Arcodoro, it was dry and lacking in flavor.

There’s a wood-burning pizza oven in Zio Cecio’s kitchen, but Farris started firing it up only on the occasion of my last visit, when it turned out some terrific, golden-brown, crisp-edged focaccia topped lightly with rosemary and sea salt. I look forward to tasting the pizzas.

There were several Sardinian reds on Zio Cecio’s concise wine list until recently; lately I settled for a 2008 Bavi “Libera” Barbera d’Asti. Reasonably priced at $38, it worked well with both scallop carpaccio and suckling pig and everything in between, though it was served a little too warm.

Come dessert time, if your experience is anything like mine, you won’t see a sweets menu — Farris prefers to come to the table and talk it over. He’s clearly excited about his house-made gelato, and I liked the flavor of his myrtle gelato, but not the texture, like an airy, fluffy soft-serve. There’s decent tiramisu and a nice crème brûlée for fans of those two shopworn (there, I said it) desserts.

I wish I’d remembered two sweets I saw listed right on the dinner menu: a torta di limone alla grappa — lemon cake infused with grappa — or fresh ricotta cheese with a drizzle of bitter honey and dusted with black pepper.

The latter sounds beautifully Sardinian. All the more reason to return.

Zio Cecio (3 stars)

Price: $$$ (salads, antipasti and carpacci $8.50 to $13.50; pastas and pizzas $13.50 to $19.50; main courses $19.50 to $62.50 for whole fish for two; desserts $8.50)

Service: Solicitous, warm and professional

Ambience: An inviting and intimate dining room painted a deep pumpkin orange, with a small bar, open kitchen, rustic tables, a glassed-in wine cellar and pretty tile work. There’s a covered patio in front.

Location: 4615 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas; 214-351-1100; ziocecio.com

Hours: Daily 5 to 10 p.m.

Credit cards: All major

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Smoking area: None

Alcohol: Full bar. The two-page wine list offers mostly Italian vintages, including a few decent selections for less than $40 per bottle.


Umberto Bombana received his 3rd Michelin Star!

From left to right: Rosario Scarpato, Bobbo Cerea, Umberto Bombana, Chicco Cerea and Mario Caramella

Of all the Italian restaurants around the world, according to a prestigious Michelin guide, one alone deserves three stars (the highest rating awarded by the judges of the guide). It won´t be found in New York or Paris, but in Hong Kong: Umberto Bombana´s "Otto e Mezzo".

Itchefs GVCI would like to congratulate Chef Bombana and his team, leadered by Danilo Nicoletti, for this acknowledgement. We had the opportunity of closing the last Italian Cuisine & Wine World Summit at his restaurant where “the King of white truffles” was joined by two other 3-Michelin-Stared Chefs: Chicco e Bobo Cerea (Da Vitorio Ristorante) to prepare an unforgettable meal.

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