You can see it in the image above. The warmth. The love. Imagine that kind of feeling in food form. That’s the best way to describe our meal at Piccolo’s most recent date night. It tasted like a warm hug from a treasured friend.
And treasured friends were what the night was all about. Chef Nino kicked off the evening with his signature smile, letting us know that the meal to come wasn’t his work, but the work of his dear friend, artist and home chef Giusi Vicari of Gela, Sicily. Giusi was in Lititz visiting her daughter, an engineer by trade and animated sous chef for this special night. Before each course, Chef Nino would translate for Giusi as she explained the methods and ingredients she used to prepare it. We learned later in the evening that the translation was loose and their banter included lots of ribbing. Giusi’s daughter filled us in on the secret, which filled the room with laughter.
The night followed the format of all the date nights offered at Piccolo – a regular occurrence, so do follow the Piccolo Eatery Facebook page to sign up for their next event. Advanced reservations were required with seating scheduled for 6pm. No menus were offered. Instead guests understood that they were signing on to experience the meal chosen by Giusi and were encouraged to bring along their favorite bottle of red wine. The result was an intimate dining experience that felt far more like a family gathering than a traditional restaurant visit.
We began with a full and deliciously fresh starter plate including bruschetta, a prosciutto-wrapped bread stick, grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper and mozzarella cheese. Next, we were presented with a beautifully flavored pasta cooked with mushrooms and heavy cream. We were even given some trade secrets on how to properly cook pasta. Hint: Always put the pasta in the sauce, not the sauce on the pasta! The third course was baked chicken, prepared perfectly with a simple mixture of bread crumbs, parmigiana cheese, salt, pepper and parsley. The night ended sweetly, with a plate of three desserts. Giusi couldn’t decide which to make, so she made them all! Our favorite was chocolate salami – sadly the red wine had kicked in and we can’t recount the exact ingredients. All we can tell you is that a mix of dreamy ingredients were rolled into chocolate to create a taste we’ll pine for, probably forever! Also on the plate was a yummy tiramisu and roasted pralines.
At the close of the evening, we were treated to the story of Giusi’s life, told by her daughter with many sweet exchanges between the two as she spoke. We learned that her husband’s family were refugees during the second world war. We learned that Giusi was a stay at home mom, but went to the local art school for lessons after her children were grown. Within months the school was asking Giusi to teach – a job she enjoys to this day. Some of her art, now celebrated in Sicily, was on display, including historically inspired pieces, landscapes painted on Sicilian roof tiles, painted glass, and even a gorgeous dress sewn for a now 15-year-old granddaughter.
It was a beautiful night showcasing beautiful food and beautiful people. We left loving Piccolo’s and Lititz even more.
To learn more about Piccolo Eatery, visit their website here.