Maritozzi con la panna

La brioche con la panna a cui nessun romano può rinunciare. 

The whipped cream-filled brioche that no Roman can renounce.

Maritozzo con la Panna

This bold declaration greeted us on a giant sign hung on the wall in the pasticceria, directly across from the enormous glass pastry case filled with delectable Italian pastries.  We were at Eataly Roma, the high-end, all-Italian food emporium located in the formerly abandoned, space-age looking Air Terminal building near the Ostiense train station.


Originally founded in Turin, Eataly now has 11 locations across Italy, including in Milan, Genova, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Bari.  The forthcoming opening of a second Rome location in Piazza della Repubblica was recently announced, appropriately taking over a McDonald’s space.  Internationally, Eataly is present in Dubai, Istanbul, and at three locations across Japan.  Here in the states, Eataly emporiums can be found in Chicago and New York.  The American branch of Eataly is owned by Italian-American food giants Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich.

Eataly combines the high quality and authenticity that small neighborhood Italian food shops and eateries are known for, with the convenience and scale of modern mega-stores.  Occupying tens of thousands of square meters over multiple floors, each Eataly boasts a wine store, a beer garden, a pastry shop, a gelateria and several restaurants along with fish, meat and vegetable markets and a grocery store with everything that one might need.

Since we were in Rome, Eataly’s pasticceria featured the traditional roman pastry maritozzo con la panna,  perfectly executed by guest pasticcere Luca Montersino, Italy’s most famous celebrity pastry chef.  Proving the proclamation true, Stefano did not hesitate to order a maritozzo con la panna and eat it right there.

Maritozzi con la pannaMaritozzi are fragrant, sweet-dough buns sliced in half and stuffed with smooth, fresh whipped cream.  They are a staple in Rome’s pasticcerie, and commonly found during the breakfast hours in coffee bars around the Eternal City.  When Stefano was a little boy, on special occasions his parents would bring maritozzi con la panna home from their favorite neighborhood pastry shop.  Sometimes, when Stefano joined his father Andrea for a morning caffè at the bar, Andrea would let him have a maritozzo.

Some traditional Roman maritozzi recipes call for sultans, pine nuts and candied orange peel.  We prefer a simple sweet dough recipe with only orange zest providing a mild citrus flavor, just like those that Stefano recalls from his childhood.

Maritozzi con la panna

For the brioche
Flour, 250 grams (1 and 3/4 cup) plus extra for kneading.
Sugar, 50 grams (1/4 cup)
Salt, 1 pinch
Water, 125 ml (1/2 cup) warm
Active Dry Yeast, 6 grams (2 tsp.)
Malted Milk, 1 heaping teaspoon (or substitute honey)
Butter, 40 grams (3 Tbsp), softened and cubed
Egg, 1, yolk separated from the white
Zest of one orange

For the sugar glaze
Water, 50 ml (1/2 cup)
Sugar, 75 grams (3/8 cup)

For the filling
Heavy Whipping Cream, 500 ml (2 cups)
Sugar, 5o grams (1/4 cup)


Stir the yeast in the warm (not hot) water until dissolved.  Add the malted milk and stir until dissolved.  Set aside.  Measure the flour, sugar and salt  into a medium bowl.  Stir together.  Form a well in the center and add the butter, egg yolk and orange zest.  Slowly add the liquid, mixing with a fork to gradually incorporate the flour mixture from the inside out.

Maritozzi con la pannaWhen all of the liquid has been added and the dry mixture incorporated, remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a smooth, lightly floured surface.  Knead gently for 5 minutes until it forms a smooth, round ball.

Maritozzi con la pannaSprinkle a bit of flour inside a smaller bowl, place the dough inside and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise in a warm location for at least 2 hours.

Maritozzi con la pannaMaritozzi con la panna

After two hours, add a sprinkle of flour to your work surface and turn your dough back out onto it.  Divide your dough into 6 equal small, oval (or football shaped) buns.  We used our food scale to ensure that they were equal sized.  Place the buns onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

Maritozzi con la panna

Beat the egg white lightly with a fork.  Uncover the buns and reshape into ovals if needed.  Use a pastry brush to Carefully brush the buns with egg white.  Cover once again with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour more.

Maritozzi con la panna

Bake at 180º C, 350º F for approximately 20 minutes, until the maritozzi are a deep golden brown on top.

While the maritozzi are baking, prepare the sugar glaze.  Heat water until almost a boil, and then turn off the heat.  Add the sugar and let dissolve, stirring just once or twice.  Let cool.

When the maritozzi are done, remove them from the oven and while still hot, brush them with the sugar glaze.  Let cool.

Maritozzi con la panna

While the maritozzi are cooling, whip the cream together with the sugar to firm peaks.

When the maritozzi are completely cool, slice into them diagonally without cutting all the way through.  If helpful, moisten your fingers and hold each maritozzo carefully at its base, to avoid the sugar glaze sticking to your fingers and pulling pieces of the brioche away.

Using a pastry spatula, open up the “mouth” of each maritozzo and fill it with whipped cream, using the spatula to create a smooth edge, and a moistened paper towel to wipe away any extra whipped cream.

Enjoy as a decadent, Roman-style breakfast or with your afternoon espresso as a special treat.

Maritozzi con la pannaMaritozzi con la panna

Filetto in crosta with 2011 Cuvée Arlette from Lauren Ashton Cellars

What a delight one recent afternoon when, there amidst the clutter in my inbox, was a note from Kimberly of Lauren Ashton Cellars, a small, boutique winery in Washington state.  Kimberly explained, “We have just started distribution in Minnesota and are hoping to spread the word. I see that you’re based out of Minneapolis and am wondering if you would be open to a collaboration of sorts?”

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Several emails and a phone call later, after weather delays due to the cold in Minneapolis and extra insulation around the package to ensure that the foil and cork seals would not be compromised by the low temperatures, a bottle of 2011 Cuvée Arlette from Lauren Ashton Cellars in Woodinville, Washington was delivered via UPS on a Saturday morning.

Lauren Ashton arrival notice

The bottle was placed to rest in Stefano’s cellar, after confirming its safe arrival with Kimberly and Bill, Lauren Ashton’s Tasting Studio Manager, who so diligently orchestrated the wine’s cross-country voyage from Washington to Minnesota.

Lauren Ashton Cellars

While we carefully considered pairings and waited for the right weekend to cook and blog about it, we learned more about Lauren Ashton, this Washington state winery whose curators contacted us out of the blue and offered us a bottle of their divine 2011 Cuvée Arlette, which boats a 94-point rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine and is worth every penny of its $50 price tag.

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Lauren Ashton Cellars is a newer winery, founded in 2009 by Kit Singh, a dentist by profession with a passion for wine.  The winery is named after his two children, Ashley Lauren and Ashton Troy.  Drawing from his wife Riinu’s Estonian heritage while honoring local pacific northwestern style, Singh quickly produced top-rated wines that blended Old World tradition with Washington state character.

The gifted 2011 Cuvée Arlette intrigued and challenged us.  Its tasting notes state: Cuvée Arlette is a dark and luxurious blend of Merlot (49%), Cabernet Franc (29%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19.5%), and Petit Verdot (2.5%) sourced from the Columbia Valley AVA. It exhibits aromatics of raspberry, black currants, cocoa, and caramel with hints of spiciness and minerality. The tannin structure is focused and elegant. 

The wine’s classic Bordeaux blend recalls an Italian Super Tuscan.  It is a complex, strong wine that desires a robust pairing.  We knew we needed a meat dish, but realized that this wine deserves something nuanced.  Anyone can grill a steak and pair it with a powerful red.  We wanted to create a dish with sophisticated flavors that would capture the elegance of the Cuvée Arlette.  We decided on a filetto in crosta – beef tenderloin wrapped in mushrooms, truffle oil and proscuitto crudo, enveloped in a pastry crust, baked until golden brown.

Filetto in Crosta with 2011 Cuvée Arlette

It worked.  The wine and the filetto balanced each other perfectly.  The flavors of mushroom and truffle were subtle enough to compliment the tenderloin, yet the sum of the parts of this dish were mature enough to stand up to, and exalt, this structured, sophisticated wine.

Filetto in crosta


Beef tenderloin; 1 and 1/2 lb or approximately 650-700 grams
Prosciutto crudo; 7 ounces or approximately 200 grams
Mushrooms; mixed varieties of your choice,  32 ounces or approximately 1 Kilo
Butter; 2 Tbls. or approximately 30 grams
Olive oil; 6 Tablespoons
Garlic; 2 cloves
Dry white wine; 1/2 cup
Truffle oil; two or three dashes, to taste
Puff pastry; one box (two sheets), or enough to cover the tenderloin
Eggs yolks; from 4 large eggs
Salt; to taste


  • If your puff pastry is frozen, set it out to thaw.  Preheat the oven to 350° F, or 180° C.
  • Chop the mushrooms into small pieces.  Add the butter, 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, and mushrooms to a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms.  Let the mushrooms cook until their liquid has almost cooked off.  Add the wine, and again allow the liquid to cook off, adding salt to taste.  Set the mushrooms aside to cool.

Filetto di Crosta

  • Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet.  Heat until sizzling over medium heat.  Sear the tenderloin on all sides for about 20 minutes, adding salt as you turn.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Filetto di CrostaFiletto di Crosta

  • Lay out your prosciutto onto a cutting board so that it is ready to wrap around the tenderloin.
  • Blitz the mushrooms in a food processor along with the truffle oil until it becomes a paste.
  • Spread a layer of mushroom paste over the prosciutto crudo, and set the tenderloin on top of it.  Spread the remaining mushroom paste over the sides and top of the tenderloin.  Cove the tenderloin with the remaining prosciutto.

Filetto di CrostaFiletto di CrostaFiletto di crosta

  • Beat together the egg yolks and set aside.
  • Sprinkle flour onto a large cutting board or working surface, and place one sheet of puff pasty on top of it.  Sprinkle more flour onto the puff pastry, and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch, or 3 mm, thick.  Repeat the procedure for a second sheet of puff pastry.
  • Set the mushroom and prosciutto covered tenderloin on top of one of the pastry sheets.  With the second pastry sheet cover the tenderloin, wrapping the top sheet over the meat.

Filetto di crosta

  • Using a pastry brush, spread beaten egg yolk along the base of the bottom sheet of the puff pastry, where the top sheet touches.  Trim any remaining puff pastry, leaving 1/2 inch, or 1.25 cm, extra on top and bottom.  Pinch the top and bottom pastry sheets together to seal well.
  • Brush the entire pastry-wrapped tenderloin with egg yolk.  If you wish, cut 8 thin strips of puff pastry and arrange them lattice style over the tenderloin for decoration.  Brush again with egg yolk.

Filetto di crostaFiletto di crosta

  • Place the filetto in crosta onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350° F, or 180° C for 30 minutes.  Remove from over and let sit for 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to be reabsorbed.

Filetto di crostaFiletto di crosta

Serve with a bottle of 2011 Cuvée Arlette. 

Local Due Spaghetti readers, ask for Lauren Ashton’s Cuvée Arlette in your local liquor store and wine shops.  It’s distributed by Small Lot, MN.

Disclosure: Lauren Ashton Cellars provided a bottle of 2011 Cuvée Arlette free of charge for our sampling.  Cara and Stefano of Due Spaghetti received no other compensation or incentives for writing this blog post.  We share our impressions with our readers willingly and with pleasure, but not for profit or personal gain.

La Chaya Bistro

We’re not restaurant reviewers.  You will never read a critique of a restaurant or a dish on Due Spaghetti.  Everyone’s tastes are different, and who are we to publicly criticize a meal that someone prepared for us?  In short, on Due Spaghetti we write about that which we like, but not that which we don’t like.

One of the places we like, a lot, is La Chaya Bistro, where we recently had an amazing dinner and conversation with chef and proprietor Juan Juarez Garcia.

Photo by by Skye McLoughlin-Kopfmann and David Kopfmann. Visit them at

La Chaya opened in our neighborhood a few years ago, and we had been there a number times before.  We’re not frequent restaurant patrons – we love to cook at home, and our standards for authenticity are high.  Our list of favorite Twin Cities restaurants is selective, but  La Chaya earned a place on it right away.

by Skye McLoughlin-Kopfmann and David Kopfmann. Visit them at

What attracted us the first time we went was that the predominantly Mexican menu had very obvious Italian influences.  We inquired, and learned that Chef Garcia had spent several years in Italy.  It was curious to find these traditional Italian pasta dishes prepared to perfection – some entirely authentic, others with the subtle incorporation of a Mexican ingredient or two.

by Skye McLoughlin-Kopfmann and David Kopfmann. Visit them at

Last week, Stefano had a fettuccine with lobster meat, cherry tomatoes and wilted spinach, while Cara ordered fettuccine with lobster meat in a lemon-basil pesto with pecans.  We shared fried calamari and shrimp, over a bottle of Spanish Nora Albariño white wine.  Roasted sea bass was also was on the menu, as was carpaccio.  After finishing our seafood-based meal, we honestly considered ordering a carpaccio just to try it (how can you not order carpaccio when it’s on the menu?), but rational thinking prevailed, and we agreed that we could defer gratification until our next visit to La Chaya.   That will need to be soon, because we can’t stop thinking about that carpaccio.

by Skye McLoughlin-Kopfmann and David Kopfmann. Visit them at

The meal itself was wonderful and just what we needed at the end of a very long day at work.  The evening became even better though, when Chef Garcia joined us at our table and we began a conversation about food, culture and hospitality.  Over Grappa di Barolo, Juan told us about the years he spent in Italy, first in Fiumicino, a sea-side town in the province of Rome, and later in Porto Cervo, on the northern shore of the island of Sardinia, along the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast.

Alternating between Italian and English, we shared tales of food, travel and culture.  We laughed over the pungent smelling but delicious wheel of pecorino sardo that Juan brought home one day to his British landlord’s dismay, applauded his persistence and eventual success in getting Sardinians to try cactus leaves, and shared opinions on the best way to drink Campari.

by Skye McLoughlin-Kopfmann and David Kopfmann. Visit them at

Juan, originally from Mexico City, spoke about the different ways Italians and Mexicans prepare seafood and meat, and the different spices they use to season food.  While discussing the good cooking and overall hospitality of the Italian family that hosted Juan when he first arrived in Italy, and chuckling over menu items that more conservative diners are slow to embrace, the evening’s theme began to unfold for us.

The food experience and the client relationship are what matter.  The culture of food, of enjoying a meal prepared with care, is too often absent from the modern-day North American experience.  At La Chaya, Juan not only offers his guests exceptional meals that reflect his Mexican heritage and Mediterranean experience, but in doing so he also shares with them his deep appreciation for hospitality and the culture of food.

by Skye McLoughlin-Kopfmann and David Kopfmann. Visit them at

La Chaya Bistro
4537 Nicollet Ave S.
Minneapolis 55419

See La Chaya’s profile on Open Table, and read patron ratings and reviews.

The Best Gelato

Journalist Joe Ray just had the assignment of a lifetime – traveling around Sicilia in search of the perfect gelato, for The Wall Street Journal.

He found true master artisanal gelato-makers:

  • using local-sourced ingredients: “Gelateries worth their salt follow the seasons, putting out just a few varieties at a time and concentrating on local specialties like mandarin orange, not-too-bitter lemon, hazelnut, pistachio and almond, flavors so well-crafted you taste the skin of the nuts.”
  • focusing on texture as well as taste: “Mr. Palozzo’s strawberry and cantaloupe flavors mimic the textures of the fruits themselves: strawberry gelato is coarse but gives way under a spoon, while cantaloupe has the smoothness of a melon.”
  • looking to revive the traditional art of granita, even for breakfast: “The morning showstopper is a ricotta granita topped with coffee cream and bits of cannoli shell.”

The Wall Street Journal also shares their picks for the best gelato to be found here in the States.  I was surprised that Grom in New York City didn’t make the list.

I’ll stop so you can read it yourself.  It’s a perfect quick read for a weekend afternoon.  Enjoy Ray’s vivid writing, view the amazing photos, and imagine yourself there.  If you find yourself in Rome without plans to get to Sicily, don’t despair – the gelato is amazing in the Italian capital, as well.

What you do think?  Have you had amazing gelato, in Italy or elsewhere?  Has anyone tried to make gelato?  Tell us about it.

The Butcher Block: Authetic Italian in Northeast Minneapolis

When we left Rome and moved to the States, well-intentioned family and friends often offered to take us to their favorite Italian restaurants.  Each time we were let down – the food was just not authentic.

For example, in Italy “chicken cacciatore” is not a pasta dish.  In fact, we don’t eat chicken in pasta.  We don’t eat it on pizza, either.  Ever.  We also don’t like big pieces of garlic in the food we eat.  Who wants to bite into a piece of garlic?  And, believe it or not, Stefano had never heard of alfredo sauce until he came to the States.

In short, there’s Italian food, and Italian-American food.  Don’t get us wrong – we aren’t here to criticize Italian-American food.  It is its own cuisine with its own rich history, and it should be appreciated accordingly.  However, it is not the same as Italian food, and when you are new to this country and nostalgic for the tastes from back home, the worst thing to do is to is to go to an Italian-American restaurant.  So we pretty much gave up on Italian restaurants, until we met Filippo.

Filippo Caffari is from our hometown of Rome, where he was a master-butcher until he and his family moved to the United States and Filippo began working in restaurants in New York and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and quickly became known as one of finest Italian chefs in the Midwest.

Filippo is now co-owner of The Butcher Block, a vibrant trattoria-style restaurant on Hennepin Avenue in northeast Minneapolis.  Full disclosure: we are biased. Filippo has become a dear friend, and Stefano can often be found on weekends helping out at the restaurant and serving wine to customers.  In Due Spaghetti, our intention isn’t to write objective restaurant reviews, it is to share the places we love with you.

Filippo’s dishes are authentic Italian, rustic in nature but refined and creative in execution.  The desserts prepared by Kristin, also a Butcher Block co-owner,  are comforting, but imaginative and elegant at the same time.

Perhaps the best part of dining at the Butcher Block is the way Filippo interacts with his clients.  He is a common presence in the dining hall, talking with customers, explaining his dishes, and seeking their opinions.  His is passionate about food, and he takes great satisfaction in providing pleasure to others through his meals.  His exuberant personality and quick sense of humor make his visit to your table a memorable one.

There’s a new menu out at the Butcher Block.  Here’s what we’re eating:

Stefano’s dinner – Savory Roman Classics
Antipasto: Salumi
Primo Piatto: Rigatoni Pajata
Secondo Piatto: Veal Liver Marsala
Wine: Sergio Barale Langhe Nebbiolo
Dolce: Crème Brulee

Cara’s dinner – Summertime at the Sea
Antipasto: Grilled Octopus
Primo Piatto: Black Monk Ravioli
Secondo Piatto: Pan Seared Ahi Tuna
Wine: Santa Tresa Rina Ianca
Dolce: Tiramisu Lemoncello

The Butcher Block
308 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414-1016

The Butcher Block’s dinner and wine menus



La Pizza Napoletana

In our house, we jokingly argue about whether the best pizza is made in Rome or in Naples.

Roman pizza has a thin, light crust which serves as the backdrop for the flavorful additions on top.  Neapolitan pizza, on the other hand, is all about the crust.  Made from only wheat flour, yeast, salt and water, it is crispy, tender and heartier than the Roman crust.

The dough is hand-tossed, topped perhaps with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzerella di bufala, and then fired in a wood-burning oven at 800° to 900° for up to 90 seconds.

Punch Pizza at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis is one of the places we visit when we want a real pizza.  Founded in 1996 with authenticity a top priority, Punch quickly established its credibility with the local Italian community and won over the locals with their exceptional pizzas.  Tonight, it was a perfect stop for a Bufalina pizza and a Peroni on tap.

The Bufalina is pizza bianca, which means a pizza without tomatoes.  It is topped with mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto and arugula.  For something different, ask them to hold the arugula until after the pizza is fired.

Punch is the English name for Pulcinella, a traditional Neapolitan character that that dresses in white and sports a black mask with a long, pointed nose.  Pulcinella dates back to the 17th century Commedia dell’Arte, but has now become famous as the crafty, irreverent star of puppet theater and symbol of the similarly irreverent city of Naples.

In an Italian pizzaria, pizzas are meant to serve one.  Each person orders his or her pizza, which is served on a large round plate.  You can share if you like, but the pizza is yours.

Italians fold their slice of pizza in half when they eat it in order to keep the tip from sagging.  To accomplish this, pick your pizza up by the crust, fold the two corners up and toward the center, and hold the pizza upright so that the toppings do not fall onto your plate.

Punch has a fantastic website with information about its beginnings, the art of Neapolitan pizza-making, life in the city of Naples, and more.  When you visit their site, be sure to check out the Buzz page to read the latest reviews, and the Connect page to see who’s been tweeting what about Punch and the city of Naples.

Find a Twin Cities Punch Pizza

Punch at Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis

Stefano and Cara to their Neapolitan friend Alfonso: “Alfonso, is the pizza better in Rome or in Naples?”

Alfonso: “The pizza is definitely better in Naples.  Pizza in Rome is not as good.  Unless the pizzetaio making the pizza in Rome is from Naples, then that pizza is good, too.”