( photos: Lesley K. Forrester )

NEW ITALIAN PANTRY DINNER SERIES - 1 (01.30.13)

GUESTS: Kevin, Angela, William, Lesley, Joe, Julia, Simran, Nick, Peter, Joe

MENU: Warm Escarole Salad, Porchetta-style Tuna, Pan-Fried Maine Shrimp, Annelone with Lamb Ragu, Pork Chops with White Beans & Cabbage, Braised Rabbit with Stuffed Artichokes

This was the first of a series of suppers we’re holding at Sara’s East Village restaurant, Porsena. At each supper, Sara will be serving a 3-course, family-style meal inspired by recipes from the Sara Jenkins’ New Italian Pantry iPad app. 

The seminal dinner was everything we wished it would be. A  gathering of friends and strangers enjoying each other’s company over plates of Sara’s rustic Italian cuisine, multiple bottles of wine, and pockets of engaging conversation. 

Introductions were swift and not-at-all “6th grade dance” awkward. Once two brave volunteers took up the Mom and Pop spots at the heads of the Chef’s Table, Sara went straight into serving mode. And boy did she serve it up. The escarole salad balanced citrusy and briny, the tuna’s porchetta crust was herby without being overpowering to the perfectly-cooked fish, and the spicy lamb ragu was lapped with every last piece of bread. But rather than going into each dish and making all who didn’t attend super jealous, let’s just say that we’d all Instagram the dishes with a “drooling” emoji followed by three “thumbs up” emojis, followed by a ghost emoji because we’d all die happy. 

And while the food was great, the company was even better. Fun to see a bunch of strangers talk about everything from gentrification and canyoning to baking bread and that awesome pizza guy who moved to SF. Any meal where there are high-fives over Jackson Heights pride (Queens for Life!), and folks are one-upping one another searching for weird stuff on Vine, is a memorable dinner in our books. 

Thanks again to all who attended, and hope to see some familiar and new faces next dinner!