In May 2012, a massive earthquake struck near the town of L’Aquila in Central Italy and damaged more than $100,000,000 worth of Parmigiano Reggiano in neighboring Emilia Romagna. Six months later, celebrated Italian chef Massimo Bottura organized a “social gesture,” for which restaurants around the world cooked riso cacio e pepe (rice with Parmesan and pepper) as a sign of solidarity—and a way to make use of hundreds of damaged wheels of cheese.
Now, with last week’s earthquake near the town of Amatrice, the world is once again turning to food as a way to support victims and provide economic relief. Given that Amatrice’s claim to fame is pasta all’Amatriciana, i.e. rich tomato sauce studded with chunks of guanciale and finished with pecorino, restaurants across the country—including several here in Westchester—are putting the dish on their menus and donating a portion of the proceeds to earthquake relief.
First to participate in our area was Pax Romana in White Plains, who are donating $2 from every plate (and accepting additional donations) to the Italian Red Cross. In the first 24 hours, the restaurant raised more than $1,000, and their social media posts about the fundraiser were shared more than 200 times, reaching more than 20,000 people. “The original goal was $5,000” says owner Paul Russo, but now the restaurant is hoping to raise more than $10,000 for the cause.
At Zuppa in Yonkers, owner Nando Paterra has added an Amatriciana special to the menu for the next few weeks. “I’m from a region of Italy about 45 minutes [from the earthquake], so they felt it in my town,” he empathizes. Zuppa plans to donate 25 percent of the item’s gross proceeds, and is organizing a cocktail park with the Sons of Italy that will also benefit the cause. Chef Michael Cutney of Twisted Oak in Tarrytown also began serving a riff on Amatriciana this past weekend that featured hand-rolled garganelli, local tomatoes, and pork belly. It’s a cause close to Cutney’s heart—he lived and worked in Florence, Italy before opening The Twisted Oak. And at Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, they’re running a classic version with bucatini pasta. All Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich restaurants are planning to donate, according to Chef Any Nusser, who adds that they are keeping customers abreast via the hashtag #Bucatini4Amatrice.
As perhaps the ultimate testament to Westchester chefs’ connection to Italy, both Kyle Inserra at Polpettina in Larchmont and Eastchester and Scott Fratangelo at L’inizio in Ardsley immediately put an Amatriciana dish back on their menus after we contacted them to inquire if they were participating, and they’ve both set to work making a plan for donations.
Here is a complete list of who’s participating locally. (Want to Be Added to the List? E-mail Samantha Garbarini at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
189 E Post Rd, White Plains (914) 437-5791; www.paxromanany.com
Donating $2 from every plate to the Italian Red Cross. Additional donations also accepted. No planned end date as of yet.
18 Mill St, Port Chester (914) 939-3111; portchester.tarrylodge.com
Donating $5 from every plate through the end of September. All other Batali and Bastianich restaurants in NYC and Connecticut are also participating.
698 Saw Mill River Rd, Ardsley (914) 693-5400; www.liniziony.com
Starting Labor Day Weekend, $2 per plate will be donated to earthquake relief through the end of September.
102 Fisher Ave, Eastchester (914) 961-0061
147 Larchmont Ave, Larchmont (914) 341-1460; www.polpettina.com
From September 2 to September 9, 25% of the proceeds from their Amatriciana special will be donated.
The Twisted Oak
61 Main St, Tarrytown (914) 332-1992; www.thetwistedoakny.com
Chef Michael Cutney plans a few different iterations of the dish over the next couple of weeks, with a portion of the proceeds going to Italy.
59-61 Main St, Yonkers (914) 376-6500; www.zupparestaurant.com
Zuppa will donate 25 percent of the gross profits to earthquake relief for the next few weeks. The restaurant will also be co-sponsoring a cocktail party for the cause with the Sons of Italy, date TBD.