I took a long-long-long subway ride up into what seemed like the outer reaches of the Bronx yesterday for lunch with the gang at Gustiamo.com, importers of some of my favorite Italian olive oils and a lot of other fine Italian products (pastas, condiments, vinegars, soon to be cheeses too).
The headquarters of this smart and stylish organization (see photo) are unprepossessing to say the least, but probably reflective of the slightly anarchic geniality of the place.
Beatrice Ughi is the original brains behind Gustiamo.com, but she’s most ably seconded by Martina and Stefano. Everyone lunches together in this family, mostly on dishes prepared at home the night before. We sat around a table in the middle of the warehouse shipping area, joined by Bernardo, Frances, and Elliott, also part of the staff. Martina brought a salad of tiny white fagioli del Purgatorio, the precious little white beans from Umbria, while Stefano’s contribution was a terrific rendition of pesto trapanese, the Sicilian-style pesto made with crushed fresh basil and Sicilian almonds, the latter selected by Sicily’s champion gelatiero Corrado Assenza (Stefano, mi raccomando, a bit more tomato in the sauce next time?). But the piece de resistance was surely Beatrice’s risotto ai funghi porcini, her mother’s recipe, as cited in the New York Times. You can find the recipe and a photo right here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/17/dining/traditional-reader-recipes.html?ref=dining#Risotto_ai_Funghi_Porcini