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.

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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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Industry Night Is a Go at Amis

rigatoni-amis-squareTonight Joe Cicala of Le Virtu is joining forces with Amis for the Vetri Family’s monthly industry night. The industry night is at Amis this month and will feature lots of offal from Cicala and Brad Spence.

As always, the fun starts at 10 p.m. with free food and discounted drinks. Be ready to present proof of hospitality industry employment  at the door.

Amis [Foobooz]

Le Virtu’s La Panarda in the Washington Post

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The Washington Post was at the 40-course La Panarda dinner at Le Virtu. Check out Domenica Marchetti’s recap of chef Joe Cicala’s epic feast.

La Panarda is indeed a marathon, but not the eat-all-you-can-as-fast-as-you-can kind that you find at county fairs or see on bad food TV. The feast is a centuries-old tradition steeped in cultural and religious significance, and in lore. It still takes place in some Abruzzo villages, especially in the mountains, where winters can be bitter and where a celebratory meal that requires days of preparation goes a long way toward providing purpose, not to mention comfort.

For more on La Panarda, check out our recap of the 2012 Dinner At Le Virtù.

La Panarda: Philadelphia restaurant hosts an age-old feast that’s a marathon, not a race [Washington Post]

Distant Early Warning: Duck Duck Goose Celebrity Chef Dinner At Brauhaus Schmitz

DuckGooseBookYes, the event here is about a month away. And yes, that’s generally kind of outside the window for most peoples’ dinner planning. But this is one of those collaboration dinners where it might be best to reserve first just so you’re not regretting it later, you know?

As of right now, there are 62 tickets left for the November 6 Duck, Duck, Goose celebrity chef dinner and Hank Shaw book signing at Brauhaus Schmitz. The deal here is that six chefs are all coming together to cook a single dinner, with each course inspired by the recipes in Hank Shaw’s book Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, Both Wild and Domesticated.

Cool, right? And there’s going to be booze and a book signing and everything else you’d expect at one of these things. But what’s really cool about this one are the chefs that are involved. For one night only, the kitchen at Brauhaus Schmitz will be home to Jeremy and Jessica Nolen (who, okay, are there pretty much every night), Jenn Carrol, Jason Cichonski, Joe Cicala and Ben Puchowitz.

And wait ’til you see what they’re going to be cooking…

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About Last Night: Not Your Average Joe

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So last night was our big, Best of Philly 40th Anniversary Open Stove Masters showdown, pitting Joe Cicala from Le Virtu against Joey Baldino from Zeppoli in a five-course, knock-down, drag-out culinary battle to the death. And it was a night that truly had everything–from Cicala showing up with no sous chef and cooking the entire night solo (a first for Open Stove) to Solo himself, Michael Solomonov, showing up out of the blue to hang out, shake hands and check in on the competitors.

Since we had two incredibly talented Italian chefs in the house, we gave them the worst Italian ingredients we could find to work with–dry, grocery store pasta, plastic shaker cans full of generic parmesan cheese, Italian salad dressing and the like. We shocked them with ingredients, we messed with their heads, we forced them to cook on a wickedly short schedule (35 minutes to plate 22 finished entrees). And yet the guys still triumphed–knocking out course after amazing course of Italian grub for the packed house.

In the end, it was Team Zeppoli that brought home the win. But it was a close and hard-fought contest. And for those of you not lucky enough to be in attendance, we had champion shooter and friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod, on hand to snap some gorgeous pictures.

Check ‘em out after the jump. Don’t forget to pick up a Best of Philly issue (on the stands right now). And be looking out for our next sneak preview of the new COOK schedule coming later this week.

Show me the pictures

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