Maccheroncini alla chitarra con limone e pancetta, you’re quite the dish. How are you handling the busy season of outdoor dining?
With vino by the barrel-full, signorina! Our chef, Joe Cicala, says I’m perfect for light summer meals because I’ve got the “Right amount of richness—scantily dressed and not swimming in butter.” What do you think of that, signorina? Scantily dressed ...
Let’s get back on topic. Where in Italy are you from?
Va bene. Like the rest of the menu at Le Virtú, I’m Abruzzese, and I believe we’re the most delizioso cuisine in Italy, defined by decadent simplicity.
Can you translate your name for English speakers?
Certo! Guitar-cut pasta with lemon and “bacon”: thin pasta made in-house with a unique tool called a chitarra that’s a rectangle with what resembles the strings of a guitar. After I’m rolled into lasagna sheets, Cicala lays me across the chitarra creating my “guitar-cut.” Then lemon juice and zest plus a tablespoon of butter melts into my pasta and at the last second, Cicala folds in thinly sliced house-cured pancetta.
Come semplice! What’s the catch?
You can easily make a mess of me. The emulsification process gets tricky—when I’m at my best, the fat in the pancetta dissolves into the pasta without separating. If it does, Cicala adds a bit of leftover pasta water (a tip any Nonna can tell you: Save the pasta water!)
As Le Virtú’s customer favorite, describe your perfect date?
As a typical Abruzzese, I prefer the lush countryside to the busy streets of Roma, so eat al fresco—the patio and garden area can be quite romantic on a warm night. Order a bottle of our Campirosa Cerasuolo, a very dry rosé, that pairs nicely with my citrusy flavor. I promise, Principessa, it will be love at first bite!
Le Virtú, 1927 E.Passyunk Ave. 215.271.5626. levirtu.com
Dinner with Luke Palladino