1989 Revisited

1989 was a big year for us! In May of that year we welcomed our first child Hannah into the world! We couldn’t have been happier. Six months later we opened Fazio’s Trattoria on Main Street. And with a blink of an eye here we are 25 years later.  Time certainly has gone by fast. It seems like yesterday we were painting the walls of our new restaurant as Hannah sat in her car seat watching!  The whole family chipped in and helped us paint and set up our new place.  We opened in November of that year, excited to have our own place to cook all the wonderful dishes that we loved and perfected over the years. The menu was simple with a few salads and pasta, some that are still on our menu today! ( like this Melanzane Special)  Our dishes had a “west coast” feel, light and rustic.

 

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Spring Forward

Signs of Spring are starting to turn up.  First off, we have the Boston Red Sox at Spring Training in Florida, playing some early season games before heading up North for the 2014 Season!  Surely something we’ve all been waiting for!  For us at the restaurant, we begin our planning for the summer.  The new menu, new products and spring cleaning are all on our to do list.  Planning our garden and what we want to plant this year is always a fun sign of Spring.  We love to plant the basics: tomatoes, eggplant,  basil, rosemary, cucumbers, zucchini.  It seems we always plant way to many too many tomatoes,  but we love all the varieties!  Broccoli rabe is one veggie  that we planted last year with some success!  Broccoli rabe, a staple in italian cooking, is vitamin rich and has a bitter flavor that is excellent in garlic and oil! And look at this beautiful green color!!

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You Make my Heart Skip a Beet

card-heart-skip-a-c570_large.jpg?v=1381180349   When I think of Valentine’s Day I see red! No not in that way, but in the color of hearts and wine and foil covered chocolates, or in sensuous fruits like cherries and strawberries. But this year I’ve taken a liking to beets.  I love the color, the deep ruby red, so earthy and delicious.  So we started playing around in the kitchen and came up with this beautiful red beet pasta.

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 We decided to juice the beets instead of roasting them to maintain the color and keep it in the purest form. We used the beet juice as our liquid in making the pasta.

 The Italian word for beets is”barbabietole”and it is a common vegetable at the Italian table.  The pasta is exquisite and the color holds up well in our pasta dish.  We serve the red beet pasta with winter greens, toasted walnuts in garlic and olive oil. I can’t think of a healthier, vitamin rich, nutrient dense meal!

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You won’t find a more beautiful homemade pasta anywhere!

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Fazio’s online gift card promotion

Give the gift of good taste and maybe a gift for you too! Purchase a Fazio’s Gift Card online for $50 or more and be entered into our drawing for a $50 Gift Card. Between now and December 24 any $50 gift card purchase automatcally enter you in our drawing. Enter as many times as you like! Winner will be chosen on December 24 at 3pm and contacted via email. For online purchases only.*

*Congratulations to Maureen D. for winning a $50 Fazio’s Gift Card. Not only did she give a Gift Card as a gift she received one as well! Thanks to all!

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Thanksgiving on the Cape

The Cape is a very special place. Through all the holidays nothing embodies the feeling of Thanksgiving like Cape Cod.  Rich in history and local farming, we can truly feel the essence  of Thanksgiving.  Cape Cod is home to over 14,00 acres of beautiful cranberry bogs!  And don’t forget our beautiful beaches, notably First Encounter Beach in Eastham where the pilgrims first landed! We are blessed to live in such a beautiful place and Thanksgiving  brings us together with family and friends to give thanks for our beautiful land and each other!  Have a wonderful holiday!

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Bread is Life

loavesWhen I opened Fazio’s Trattoria on Main street in Hyannis in 1989 after leaving San Francisco, it became clear that there were no bakeries producing the rustic loaves I was used to using in the North Beach where I ran Italian kitchens for ten years. I began the process of developing the rustic loaves that I bake today.

Flour is the key to my success. I use only King Arthur Special Blend, “Never Bleached, Never Bromated”. This is hard red spring wheat from the great plains 12-13% protein. All purpose flours simply do not come near this level. High protein is necessary to build strong gluten. We’ll get to to that later. The second element is yeast.

I use a natural yeast in my bread combined with a commercial yeast. Natural or “wild” yeast is a naturally occurring spore found in the air. Not found in sterile environments, it thrives in well-used bakeries. Fazio’s is housed in a former bakery, making it an ideal environment for baking bread. The commercial yeast, which is basically a sugar-eating fungus, provides a strong and predictable method to make the bread rise. The natural yeast, although unpredictable, gives our bread large holes, light texture, and great flavor.

slicedBack to the gluten. The gluten produced by the high protein content of the flour provide a strong elastic web to contain the large CO2 air bubbles produced by the wild yeast, and the alcohol produced in this process gives our bread a slightly sour taste.

Temperature is the last leg of our process.  When I work with wild yeast it is important to control the temperature. The ideal temperature is 75 degrees F, ensuring a slow rise. This means averaging the temperature of the room and flour, allowing for the friction of the mixer and adjusting the water temperature to get a final product that is 75 degrees.

Salt is an important part of my bread. However, because salt kills yeast, it must be added last in the mixing process. What I have described here is a combination of commercial yeast bread and a sour dough levan method. If you are interested in baking rustic bread “The Village Baker” by Joe Ortiz is a serious start. Also, check out King Arthur Flour.

Next time you eat out, take a moment and consider the bread you are being served. You would be surprised to know that the majority of restaurants serve frozen par-baked breads. These products are so processed that they provide less nutritional value. We bake our bread fresh daily. Come taste the difference. Bread, after all, is life.

- Chef Tomasso

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Homemade Pasta

floureggIt became clear early on that Fazio’s needed to stand out from other Italian restaurants on Cape Cod in order to be successful. Quality homemade pasta was something that no other restaurant was bothering to do. After much research, we developed a line of pasta to encorporate into our menu.

Keeping with the basic theme of our restaurant, we wanted to produce a hearty and tooth-some pasta that we could flavor and cut into various widths. We only use 4 ingredients in our pasta: the finest durum wheat and semolina, fresh eggs, and water. The dough is mixed, and spices such as black and red pepper, spinach, basil, and rosemary can be added.

The pasta machine we use presses the dry, sawdust-like dough between two rollers to create long pasta sheets. These sheets are cut and fed through dies, cutting the pasta into different widths such as angel hair, linguini, tagliatelle, and fettucine. The end result is a dense pasta that cooks up al dente and holds that texture all the way to the table. Small hand-crank home machines produce bubble-gum texture pasta that ends up cooking up like egg noodles. They do not apply enough pressure to mix the semolina.

Restaurants that bring in fresh pasta use products that contain long lists of ingredients consisting of preservatives and inferior-grade flours. There are a few brands of dried pasta on the market that I would recommend, Dececco being one of them. Most restaurants refuse to spend the money to afford them. Pasta should be served al dente which is tough to the bite. Inexpensive dry pasta will not produce an al dente product. If you have to use dry pasta, buy the best. Imported for certain.

spagCorrect cooking of pasta is essential. Rapidly boiling water of course. Salt, salt, salt, don’t forget the salt. I once worked for an Italian chef in San Francisco who claimed to have cooked pasta in salt water from the mediteranian sea. The pasta will absorb the salted water and give it flavor. If you miss this step the pasta will be bland.

Many cookbooks include oil. I have never seen the reason for this as the oil and water will seperate. Perhaps to keep the pasta from sticking during the cooking process. My method is much simpler “stir the pasta and it wont stick”. Cooking time is most important. Taste the pasta. Use your teeth to test for that texture that is slightly tough and not crunchy or soft. Bite a noodle in half during the cooking process. You will see a white ring of uncooked pasta in the center. The pasta is cooked as soon as that ring turns opaque. If the ring is gone you have overcooked your pasta. Remember the pasta will keep cooking all the way to the table so under cook if possible. Cooling and reusing is not recomended but possible. Strain and cool by submerging in cold water to stop the cooking as soon as possible.

Enjoy one of our homemade pasta dishes such as tagliatelle pepe nero salsiccia e melanzane, which is black pepper tagliatelle in a tomato sauce served with diced eggplant and sausage. Become a pasta connesieur. The next time you are out for pasta examine the bite and the consistancy of the pasta you are eating and don’t settle for less than a quality product.  Dine with us at Fazio’s Trattoria and experience pasta at it’s finest. You will surely taste the difference.

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Wine

 “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant and every day more civilized.”
Andre Simon, Commonsense of Wine

wineThere is no better accompaniment to Italian cooking than Italian wine. It compliments the food we eat with its aromas, textures and flavors. It is an essential element to the Italian table. It brings together the experience of sharing a meal and creates a sense of well being. Like breaking bread, wine too is to be shared in communion with others.

Italians are very proud of their wine heritage.  It produces and exports more wine than any other country.  The twenty regions that make up Italy are all unique in their topography and climate. From the mountain regions of the Alps to the rich rolling hills and ample sunshine of Tuscany make Italy a prime place to grow grapes. This is why Italy offers the greatest variety in types of wine than you can imagine.

Italy has hundreds of indigenous grapes, the most popular being the Sangiovese grape used in the making of Chianti. Other grapes include Piedmonts’ Nebbiolo (producing Barolo) and Venice’s Corvina which is the principal grape in Valpolicella and Amarone.

Being an Italian restaurant that makes fresh pasta and wonderful sauce, red wine has always been our biggest sellers. Here is a list and description of some of our favorites. Of course you be the final judge.

Chianti Classico, Castello di Gabbiano, Tuscany – Chianti Classico is a bright, ruby red color in the glass, with a light floral bouquet reminiscent of violets and fruity blackberry on the nose. Rich tannins and flavors of black pepper, sweet spices, and a touch of light, toasted oak fill dry, medium-bodied palate, while the finish is persistent and clean. www.gabbiano.com

Centine, Villa Banfi – What is commonly called a Super Tuscan this wine has a combination of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. A fruity young red, with crushed berry and mineral character on a soft, silky medium-to-full body, with plump fruit and a clean finish. Always  a good value.

Primitivo, A-Mano, Puglia -  A-mano which means “hand-made” is handcrafted from indigenous Primitivo grapes (the original source of Zinfandel). This wine is fruit packed and food friendly and expresses the region’s highest quality.

Valpolicella Classico ,”Bonacosta” Masi, Venice – Made with 70% Corvina grapes this wine has refreshing nose with hints of violets and raspberries and intense tastes of ripe cherries.  Valpolicella has a long dry finish and is versatile enough to go with many dishes from pasta to roasts. Bonacosta refers to the area at the foot of the slopes where the grapes are grown for Amarone.

Campofiorin Ripasso, Masi, Venice – In 1964 the Masi Winery introduced the technique of “appassimento” (drying of the grapes). This combined with double fermentation make this wine made of indigenous Amarone grapes rich, full-bodied, round and velvety.

All these wines are available on Fazio’s Wine List.

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Freshness Counts

produce As the chef, owner and buyer for our small Italian Trattoria, I meet with sales people and inspect all the food I order. This hands on approach helps control the quality of the product we produce. “Fresh foods cooked to order” has always been our motto. With the trend towards “Real Foods” becoming more popular and people looking for more value for their dollar, I wanted to let the customer know what makes the food at Fazio’s special.

The popularity of chain style Italian restaurants has grown. Let’s face it, they are inexpensive so you can feed the whole family and it tastes good. So why would you pay more? The educated palette will insist on fresh produce, fish, meats, as well as freshly prepared soups, sauces and foods cooked to order.

Fresh foods prepared to order have a greater value to the consumer  because you are getting more nutrition for your dollar and not just empty calories from the processed foods that these large chain restaurants use. Just like the a fast food cheeseburger, they are cheap, taste great, but twenty minutes later your body crashes. I am not talking about some fad food trend, it’s an old-fashion common sense approach to food: “fresh food cooked to order”. At Fazio’s our bread and pasta is produced daily on premise using the finest raw ingredients. Our produce is always fresh, as well as the meats, poultry, and fish. Salad dressings, soups and desserts are all made in house. Very simply, we buy fresh foods and  prepare them in house and cook them to order. Primal cuts of meat, whole fish, fresh locally grown shellfish, local produce in season are our mainstay.

The truth is, it is hard to tell (even if you are at a fine dining establishment) if the food, like mashed potatoes, is freshly cooked or comes frozen in ready-serve bags. When food is precooked and frozen like this it is stripped of its fiber and some of its vitamins when it is processed and preservatives are used. Somewhere along the line the foodservice salesman has convinced the chef that he can save money on labor, and this is just this tip of the iceberg. This is when it all start to go down hill. Convenience over quality. Prepackaged grilled chicken, loaded with nitrates- dead food. You know how delicious freshly grilled chicken and meats are with their natural juices flowing. Why would you pay for precooked chemically altered chicken on a salad? Escoffier would turn over in his grave. Frozen alfredo sauce, frozen meatballs, precooked pizza shells, vacuum packed soups, bottled salad dressings, precut salads soaked in preservatives. This is not “fresh food cooked to order” it is something else entirely.

Be knowledgeable when you dine, spend your hard earned money wisely, be kind to your body and “eat well”.

- Chef Tomasso

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