Il Lido’s Dine the Twenty Regions of Italy program might just be the best thing to happen to midweek dining this year.
As the name suggests, the 20-week program is about exploring and celebrating the regional diversity of Italian food and wine, from the bright and sunny flavours of the country’s south, to the sturdier cucina of the mountainous north. Each week, a new four-course menu of regional specialties will be offered alongside the regular menu, starting with the food of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy’s north-east (ham connoisseurs might recognise the region as the home of San Danielle prosciutto).
Borlotti-bean soup is typical of the area’s peasant roots. Cjalzons (a half-moon ravioli) filled with potato, cinnamon, raisins and fine herbs fly the flag for Friulian pasta. For the main event there will be roast pheasant stuffed with pork, and apple strudel speaks to the area’s strong Tyrolean influence.
In short: chef Roberto Zampogna is going to have his work cut out for him over the next 20 weeks, as is sommelier Dan Wegener, who will source regional wines for each menu. While Wegener admits some wines are harder to track down than others (if anyone has a hook-up for Ligurian wine, please yell out), he’s enjoyed the collaborative menu-writing process.
“Roberto knows how to get the most out of every ingredient and give that ingredient a voice,” says Wegener. “Getting our heads together has been a really interesting process.”
Dine the Twenty Regions of Italy starts on Tuesday May 17 (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) and ends on September 29 (Sicily). A $60 four-course menu is available Tuesday to Thursday with optional wines available. More details at illido.com.au.