You’re Doing It Wrong: Joe Cicala Teaches Us How To Eat Real Neapolitan Pizza

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So you guys know all about Brigantessa by this point, right? Joe Cicala‘s new place on East Passyunk? His ode to Neapolitan street food and super-authentic pizza?

Yeah, well apparently what he’s trying to do at Brigantessa (which includes, among other things, being the first DOC-certified Neapolitan pizzeria in Philly which involves following a whole bunch of rules made by Italians to govern what is and is not a proper pizza) is confusing some folks. So he’s put out a video all about his oven, his pizzas, the right way to make a Neapolitan pie and the right way to eat them. In addition to being instructional, it’s also full of slo-mo pizza porn and lots of loving shots of that imported pizza oven, so be aware: Maybe don’t watch it until after you’ve had lunch.

Hardcore Pizza Porn, right this way

Le Virtu’s 40-Course Dinner Is Upon Us

Joe Cicala at La Panarda | Photo by Alex Tewfik

Joe Cicala at La Panarda | Photo by Alex Tewfik

Le Virtu’s 2014 La Panarda is finally upon us. The feast will be a momentous 40-course tasting menu inspired by Italy’s Abruzzo region, paired with nine regional wines from Chieti Province’s Cantina Frentana and The Artisan’s Cellar.

Beginning at 12 p.m. on December 14th, guests of La Panarda will enjoy hours of dishes prepared by chef Joe Cicala and a communal atmosphere. Last year’s Panarda proved to be an awesome success, attracting attention from the Washington Post and Italy as well.

The cost of the meal is $275 per person, and requires a deposit by Monday, November 24th to secure a spot. To make a reservation for the feast, call Le Virtu at 215-271-5626.

The 2014 Panarda menu will be announced in the coming weeks.

Check out our post about the epic 2013 Panarda here.

Le Virtu [Foobooz]

First Look: Brigantessa

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The people of East Passyunk must have a boundless appetite for pizza, because despite the proximity of Slice, Santucci’s, Marra’s, and Francoluigi’s (and I’m sure you’ll let me know if I’m forgetting somebody…), opening night at Brigantessa yesterday was bumping. Cocktails were flowing, as were wines on tap and by the carafe, and the high-tops and bar seats were loaded. But the warm dining room upstairs will ensure plenty of space for Passyunk’s pizza lovers as the restaurant hits its stride.

Photos and more, right this way

Brigantessa Opens Tonight

brigantessa and taps squareBrigantessa opens this evening on East Passyunk Avenue. The second restaurant from chef Joe Cicala and his partners Cathy Lee and Francis Cratil-Cretarola will focus on Southern Italian cooking and a menu built around the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. The bar and open kitchen take up much of the first floor with a dining room upstairs. Cicala will also have a rotisserie and grill at his disposal in the kitchen.

The bar will offer sixteen beers on draft, including several craft Italian beers as well as US craft options as well. Wine will also be available on draft and will focus on wines from Southern Italy.

Brigantessa will initially be open for dinner seven nights a week and lunch will be added later. It is walk-in only for now, OpenTable reservations are available as of Monday, October 20th.

Opening menu » 

A Peek at Brigantessa’s Menu

brigantessa test menu

Joe Cicala is getting close to opening his second restaurant, Brigantessa on East Passyunk. How close? He estimates his menu is about 80% done, which is about how much of it we can decypher in this blurred photo that Cicala posted on Instagram.

Most visible, the annotation “more salumi.” And who can’t get behind that? Cicala, who is also the chef at Le Virtu will be serving flavors of Southern Italy at Brigantessa.

Brigantessa [Foobooz]

DIY Down the Shore: Abruzzese-Style Lamb Sausage

joe_cicala-3185To help your summer along, Foobooz plans to give you some recipes by notable chefs and bartenders in Philadelphia. We’re calling it the DIY Down the Shore series, and we’ll be posting them all week. We’re bringing Philly’s dining scene into your summer homes.

Summer is prime grilling time. There’s nothing like coming home from a day on the water, cracking open a few beers and firing up the grill. And if you consider yourself a serious grill master and are looking for your next challenge (or maybe just someone who just wants to attempt something new), Joe Cicala, executive chef at Le Virtù has shared one of his favorite recipes rooted in his family’s Italian heritage. If you’re feeling courageous we encourage you to try your hand at chef Cicala’s Abruzzese-Style Lamb Sausage. You’ll need a meat grinder and an appliance capable of stuffing the sausage, but don’t let the extra equipment scare you. These sausages are well worth the extra elbow grease.

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Brigantessa Gets Its Oven

joe-cicala-oven-brigantessa-400We’re happy to see Joe Cicala standing next to just delivered wood-fired oven. The video that Cicala posted of the delivery guys attempting to get the behemoth into the open wall at Brigantessa didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

The wood-burning oven will be at the heart of Cicala’s new East Passyunk restaurant that will focus on Southern Italian cooking and pizzas. The oven was manufactured to order in Italy for Briganessa and is hand-made from volcanic ash. Brigantessa is aiming to open this August.

Watch the video » 

There’s A Brigantessa Pop-Up Coming

brigantessaBrigantessa, Joe Cicala‘s follow up to the excellent work he’s doing down at Le Virtu, has been in the works for some time now. We know that it’s going into the East Passyunk space that formerly held Karina’s, and that the centerpiece of the two-story bar and restaurant will be an imported, wood-fired pizza oven, and that the menu will lean heavily on the cuisine of Southern Italy, with pizzas, house-made pastas, roasted meats and fish and fresh breads being the focus. But other than that, we don’t really know much in the way of specifics.

But that should change when Brigantessa takes its first steps out into the public sphere with a combined pop-up (along with the Pitruco Pizza Truck) on Sunday, June 1st. Cicala just tweeted about it an hour ago, and we’re already excited to see what he has in store.

Joe Cicala [Twitter]

Rare Pasta Series At Le Virtu (Yeah, We Said ‘Rare Pasta’)

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‘Rare’ as in ‘uncommon’. As in ‘not-just-another-plate-of-spaghetti-and-goddamn-meatballs’. Rare as in frascarell (a kind of Abruzze cous cous) and culurgiones from Sardinia–stuff that, even in this pasta-mad city, isn’t seen often or at all.

Chef Joe Cicala is doing his weirdo pasta all through the spring, starting tonight with something that’s always been on his menu–the Maccheroni alla Mugnaia. Hand-made and with noodles stretching up to 60 feet long, it’s served with olive oil, grated pecorino, a basket of chiles and a pair of scissors. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t already heard about the stuff (or if my description of it just confused you), have no fear. There’s a video of Cicala learning how to make it at Ristorante La Bilancia in Loreto Aprutino, Abruzzo. Check it out after the jump.

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