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My Big Fat Raviolo

When San Domenico restaurant was still on New York City’s Central Park South, I ordered its signature dish – a plate-sized, single raviolo filled with ricotta cheese and a egg yolk that oozed decadently onto your plate when you broke through the pasta. Combine that with a parmesan cheese and sage sauce and you’ve got a celestial forkful of goodness. The only thing that could elevate it to truly divine status would be a shaving of truffles on top. I’ve been thinking about that dish ever since I first ate it years ago and wanting to recreate it at home. This was the year I finally did, for our Thanksgiving first course. It was just as special as I remembered it. Although my pocketbook didn’t allow for the truffle indulgence, this dish still has such a wonderful taste and mouth feel, that you won’t miss it.  I urge you to try it for your next special event. It’s a bit tricky to make in large quantities, only because of the size of the pots needed, so I caution you to make this only when your group is eight or less.

I started out by making some fresh pasta, but if you want to take the easy route, buy some fresh pasta sheets. A few pasta makers, like Rana, for instance, sell fresh pasta sheets for lasagna, and they’d work just fine. If they’re a little on the thick side, just roll them thinner with a rolling pin.
After rolling out the dough, I cut out disks using a plastic container from the deli as a guide. It was about four inches in diameter. This pasta recipe makes enough for about sixteen of these disks, which is what you’ll need for eight servings.

Just work with a third of the dough at a time, leaving the rest covered under a bowl or in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.

Top it with a mixture of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and spinach (or in my case, wild broccoli rape I foraged and froze.) I forgot to add an egg to the ricotta mixture itself and it was fine, but I might try adding it the next time I make this. Create a little “nest” with the ricotta mixture and drop in a medium size egg yolk.
Wet the outside edge with some water and place another disk of pasta on top, securing all around the edge with the tines of a fork.
Drop the disks in a pot of boiling water only long enough to cook to the “al dente” stage. This could take as little as two to three minutes.You don’t want to cook it so much that the egg yolk hardens. Then, remove the disks from the water, and in another large, shallow pan, add butter, some of the pasta water and sage. Sprinkle heavily with freshly ground black pepper.

Place each raviolo in individual pasta bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and some of the sauce from the pan.

A lovely and delicious surprise is waiting for you when you cut into it.

Here comes the sun! This might seem like a difficult dish to make, but it’s not. The important thing is to use quality fresh ingredients and not to prepare too far ahead of time. I assembled these about one hour before cooking them. I wouldn’t do it more than two or three hours ahead of time, because I’d be afraid that the dough would absorb too much of the liquid from the ricotta mixture, even though I’d drained it overnight.

Here’s a little video of me assembling the ravioli. I hope it inspires you to try it at home.

Big Fat Raviolo

printable recipe here

dough (enough to make eight large ravioli or sixteen disks)

3/4  cup semolina flour (I used a mixture of semolina flour and Italian “double zero” flour, which makes for a more “toothy” dough, but next time I might use all “double zero” flour, or unbleached white flour for a “softer bite,” since I was concerned that the egg yolk would harden in the time it took to cook the pasta through. It didn’t, but using a softer flour would insure a quicker cooking time for the pasta.)
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
2 large eggs

 

 

Place most of the semolina and regular flour into a food processor bowl. Keep about 1/4 cup of the flour or semolina aside. Add the eggs, then pulse the ingredients until a ball starts to form. Add more flour or semolina if it seems too sticky. Put on a board and knead, adding more flour as needed. Let it rest under a bowl, or covered with plastic wrap, for at least a half hour. Work the dough through a pasta machine per instructions with the machine. Make sure to flour the dough as you make each pass through the rollers, so it won’t stick.
Cut out the disks using a small plate, or a plastic deli container as a pattern.
Filling
 
2 cups ricotta cheese, drained overnight
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 large egg
a grating of fresh nutmeg
1 cup of chopped spinach, squeezed really dry  (I used foraged broccoli rape but not everyone has that option)
8 medium size eggs
Mix the ingredients together with a spoon. Place some of the filling on each of the disks, and create a little “nest” by indenting the center of the ricotta filling. With the medium eggs, separate the yolks from the whites and save the whites for another recipe. Drop a yolk into the center of each ricotta “nest” then wet the rim of the pasta disk with water. Place another pasta disk on top and pressing gently from the center, seal the edges with your fingers. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges of the disk a little more securely.
Sauce
8 T. butter
pasta water
fresh sage leaves (at least eight to 12, depending on size)
freshly cracked black pepper
parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
Boil the ravioli in a pot of water for about two to four minutes. A lot will depend on the type of flour you used and the thickness of your raviolo. In a separate large pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sage, then remove each cooked raviolo from the pasta pot and add to the butter sauce. Add water from the pasta pot to keep the ravioli from sticking and to create a slight “sauce.” Serve each raviolo in a single bowl, topped with parmesan cheese and a sage leaf that’s been cooking in the sauce.

Marea and Lincoln Center Restaurants

It’s that time of year in New York when restaurants around Lincoln Center fill with people patronizing the arts – from opera to ballet and other cultural events. The “hip” restaurants may be below 14th street,  (according to some) but that doesn’t mean the Upper West Side around Lincoln Center is barren of good restaurants either. Marea is a perfect example. The name means “tide” in Italian, and that’s a clue that it’s a seafood restaurant – a very good seafood restaurant – and one of my favorites in Manhattan, along with Esca and Le Bernardin. The menu does post an offering or two for meat lovers, but the star is the seafood, guided by Chef Michael White.

White is executive chef and co-owner of the Altamarea Group, a collection of restaurants that includes Osteria Morini in New York’s Soho neighborhood and another one of the same name in Bernardsville, New Jersey. White’s reach extends further into New Jersey with Due Mari in New Brunswick and as far away as Hong Kong with his restaurant Al Molo.
Marea, which is located on Central Park South, is at the former site of San Domenico. White, in fact, cut his culinary teeth at the original San Domenico in Imola, Italy, in the Emilia Romagna region.
Dinner at Marea does not come cheap, but it’s worth a splurge every once in a while when the food is this good.
We sat down and were immediately presented with an amuse bouche to take the edge off our appetites:
bits of smoked salmon atop herbed rice crackers smeared with crème fraiche and a radish slice.
Crudo (raw seafood), served in a variety of ways, features prominently as a starter, as do a selection of oysters and caviar. But we skipped ahead to the antipasti, including these:
grilled octopus with smoked potatoes, pickled red onions, radish and chilies.
warm mediterranean red prawn, porcini, sunchoke, prawn sugo:
slow poached egg, cuttlefish, pine nuts, with a smoky swath of olive paste swished across the plate.
We moved on to the pasta, which is a specialty here – all homemade,  of course. They were all toothsome to the bite – and delicious. Here are a couple of examples, and I’m sorry to say I forgot some of the ingredients in this dish, but it was packed with flavor – linguini with lobster and cabbage (yes, cabbage – who’d have thunk?) and a crunchy topping:
Tagliolini with manila clams, calamari and peperoncini:
Main courses were equally well prepared and inventive: scallops with potato puree, fried chickpea, brussel sprouts, golden raisins and pickled mustard
a moist and thick piece of halibut in a broth with clams, peppers and celery.
The first time I ate here we ordered dessert. I can’t tell you the specifics but there was chocolate and coffee and ice cream too and it was divine. See for yourself. The presentation also was beautiful.
But even if you skip dessert, they’ll bring some mignardises to the table to satiate your sweet tooth. In this case, it was biscotti and small cream puffs flecked with gold leaf.
On another occasion, it was these little bites:
There are plenty of other restaurants besides Marea in the Lincoln Center area, too. Here are a few where I’ve eaten over the years.

Cafe Fiorello – On Broadway, right across the street from Lincoln Center and my old standby. I love everything on the menu, except the pizzas, which are huge flatbreads that could serve two people. They seem very popular, but I’m partial to Neapolitan style pizza. If you find a spot at the bar, you can make your dinner from the vast antipasti on display and can scoot in and out in a half hour. Warning: very noisy when full.
La Boite En Bois – charming French restaurant on 68th St. near Columbus Ave. Always delicious, with pre-theatre pre-fixe at very reasonable prices and not usually noisy either.
Boulud Sud – Also across the street from Lincoln Center on Broadway – near Fiorello. Pricey, but delicious and elegant food. Right in front of the restaurant is Bar Boulud, a less expensive bistro and wine bar.
Lincoln – Fine dining with contemporary Italian food – and quiet – in a location that couldn’t be more convenient – right on the Lincoln Center campus. pricey.


Picholine – The food is delicious, the decor is lovely but the service was a little too “precious” the night we were there, with waiters hovering over us so closely we felt conspicuous. Not the feeling you want when you’re paying a lot of money for dinner.

The Leopard – At the former site of “Cafe Des Artistes” – 1 West 67th St.) and even better than the old restaurant. Wonderful Italian food in a beautiful setting (they kept the old murals thankfully). Also pricey.
  • P.J.Clarke’s – Low cost alternative with great burgers. West 63rd – just a hop and skip from L.C.
So tell me, what are some of your favorite spots that I missed here in the Lincoln Center area? Let us know in the comment section of the blog.