CHICAGO (WLS) --Most Italian restaurants in Chicago try to recreate dishes from a particular region, but usually it's a generic "southern" or "northern" style. The team behind a Logan Square Italian restaurant is much more focused than that, pouring all of their energy into a restaurant devoted to just one region: Piedmont.
Chef Cameron Grant spends quite a bit of time in Pilsen, in a USDA-approved food production kitchen, making all of the pasta for his restaurant. The bulk of the work centers on plin, a traditional "pinched" ravioli from Northwestern Italy, stuffed with a cheese called La Tur, which contains milk from sheep, cow and goat, and is combined with fresh thyme for a one-of-a-kind filling.
Up at his restaurant - Osteria Langhe in Logan Square - Grant deftly assembles the dish: boiling the pasta briefly, making a pan sauce of thyme, chicken stock and butter, then adding the cooked pasta and finishing with fresh thyme. It's classic Piedmont cooking.
"If you go west of Milano, you've got this incredible area which is bordering with France and Switzerland which is called Piedmonte," said co-owner Aldo Zaninotto.
And that's what most of Zaninotto's customers come for - a taste of that region. One of the hallmarks is the cheese, of course.
"There they actually raise three animals together: you have the sheep, the goat and the cow. What does it do to the flavor of the dish is obviously the complexity of those three cheeses," he said.
Another pasta - handmade of course - is the tajarin, a thin, flat, egg yolk-rich noodle that's usually bound together with a seasonal ragu, such as ground lamb or rabbit. Zaninotto's forte is pairing regional wines with his dishes, and whether it's a hearty barolo with the tajarin, or a crisp white with the plin, he rarely misses the mark.
"This wine has a little bit of sherry notes, so minerality with sherry character, and that complexity of the flavor of the cheese, it's amazing," said Zaninotto.
2824 W Armitage Ave
EXTRA COURSE: Affogato at Osteria Langhe