Due Lire makes gnocchi from scratch in Lincoln Square

June 28, 2013 (CHICAGO)

ABC7's Steve Dolinsky says there are several places making their own from scratch each day, including a tiny space on North Lincoln Avenue.

The tiny, potato, flour and cheese dumplings make several appearances on local Italian menus, but they can often be gummy or too tough. Not so at "Due Lire" in Lincoln Square, where every pasta is made from scratch, including gnocchi.

They are as humble and straightforward as any pasta in the Italian kitchen. But at Due Lire, an extremely casual neighborhood joint in Lincoln Square, the gnocchi is given a special place on the menu.

"Gnocchi is potato dumplings. Potato, little flour, little cheese, it's a very simple dish," said Massimo Di Vuolo, owner of Due Lire.

They begin with russet potatoes, rolled up in tinfoil, then roasted for 45 minutes over a bed of salt.

"It's important to know about the humidity inside the potato; potatoes have a lot of water, and if you don't balance the kind of water, sometimes the gnocchi retains, when you make the dough, retain too much flour, and when you cook it, gets too dense and too heavy," said Di Vuolo.

After they're peeled, they're cranked through a potato ricer, and the resulting bits are chilled for at least an hour or so. Then the dough is made, combining those potatoes with flour, parmesan and ricotta cheese, plus an egg or two, depending on the consistency of the dough. It's rolled into logs, and then cut into small squares, boiled in water for just a minute or two.

Meanwhile, a heady sauce of braised oxtails, peppers and onions has been simmering for hours on the stove. The cooked gnocchi is added to a sauté pan filled with the rich sauce, thus absorbing its flavor into every crevice.

"The fluffiness and the softness; and the gnocchi retain the sauce so well, so you've got the flavor with the sauce with every bite," said Di Vuolo.

Due Lire
4520 N. Lincoln Ave.

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