Executive Chef Chris Marchino – Spiaggia of Chicago

August 14th, 2014




I start this posting with a lesson learned the hard way: NEVER EAT BUFFALO WINGS AND DEEP DISH PIZZA PRIOR TO A FINE DINING EXPERIENCE!!!!

Stuffed to the point of exhaustion from lunch (the wings and pizza), dinner was upon us.  I’d never faced this obstacle of forgoing the tasting menu as this was indeed the ultimate insult to one’s palate.  Knowing that passing out at the table was not an option, although I thought long and hard about it, I finally decided on the “Strati di Vitello” (veal cheek and sweetbread with morels, ramps and Castelmagno) and Tony went for the Faraona (Guinea hen, Chesapeake Bay blue crab, nebrodini mushroom and herbs.)  Having decided to go straight for the entrées, we were pleasantly blindsided with an out of this world dish of gnocchi smothered with truffles — this was wayyyy over the top.  But not to fear we made room for the gnocchi and waited on edge for the entrées.  Side note – - the truffles didn’t just fall from heaven, although the experience was of that distinction, the restaurant knew of our recent visit to Savini Tartufi in Tuscany which is the critical link to us being at Spiaggia.

It was on a recent truffle hunting excursion in Tuscany at Savini Tartufi that led us to Spiaggia.  Listed as a supporter of Savini products we were sold on the idea of consuming truffles from the Savini family as the experience was life changing and very educational.  So, after learning of the Spiaggia’s philosophy and that “Sprezzatura” plays such a major role in the overall ambiance of Spiaggia, without hesitation a reservation was made and we were off to Chicago.

After being told those two gentlemen who inhaled the truffle gnocchi and still found room for entrées are about to explode, Chef Marchino appeared.  The room slowly stopped spinning as I quickly snapped out of what was progressing into a food coma.  Chef Marchino introduces himself and mentioned our being at Savini Tartufi.  Long story short, he’d stayed with the Savini family and worked with them to harvest truffles so, immediately we connected.  Truth be told, the connection happened when the truffle smothered gnocchi hit the table followed by the exquisitely executed entrées.  Chef Marchino was so generous and charismatic, I went from fine dining and the edge of food coma to “where can I get the best Stromboli in Chicago.”  Stuffed and here I am asking for Stromboli.  My state was truly altered as the food was truly exceptional.   Chef Marchino laughed and said “I know Stromboli.  I’ll make Stromboli for lunch tomorrow if you wanna come back.”  Enough said, it was on – - lunch at Spiaggia Café was set and my fifteen year search for the “BEST” Stromboli was about to end!!!!!


Today, I returned with camera at the ready – - sooooo glad I did!!!!!   The wait was finally over – - STROMBOLI.

Spiaggia Café Bar


Spiaggia Café Bar – Court of Urbino – “Sprezzatura”


The Ultimate Starter….wine to follow


2010 Fratelli Revello Barolo – Rich, Robust and Just right for Stromboli


Fritto Misto (calamari, white shrimp, zucchini, jalapeno, fennel, neonata aioli)


Chef Marchino presenting “The Stromboli” and Tony’s priceless expression.


Farfalle (Prosciutto, English peas, Pecorino Moliterno, Controne pepper, mint) and The “WICKED” Stromboli


Almost Done!!!!


Chef Marchino signing the menu


Chef Marchino – The Court of Urbino – “Sprezzatura”


Bottomless Pits and Chef Marchino


Chef Marchino, thank you for one of the most amazing first impression through your carefully crafted cuisine, heartfelt generosity and charismatic personality.  The truffle smothered gnocchi, veal and Guinea hen made for an incredible meal at Spiaggia.  And The Stromboli – - “WOW” my fifteen year wait ended perfectly with your mind blowing Stromboli.  Please say yes to a repeat!!!!  Oh, anyway you can overnight one to DC???   Thanks again and see you soon.



 Up Next: Rome Cavalieri

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The Hiatus is OVER!!!!

August 7th, 2014

After taking a much needed break from posting my delicious epicurean  encounters, I felt it was time to share more exceptional experiences that will inspire you to eat and travel adventurously.

I find it fitting to pick up where I left off – - The Grill Room at Capella in Georgetown, as Chef Esko and the entire team at The Grill Room and Capella have and continue to be just simply outstanding.  This however, would be the final meal Chef Esko sets fire to in DC as he headed back to Barcelona to take on another culinary adventure – - one that is sure to have me spending more time in Barcelona.

It goes without saying, but allow me to do so – - the cuisine was perfect as each individual flavor added something special to every bite.  “Harmony and Balance,” the theme of the evening and what an evening it was!!!

Chef Esko & Emilio Sirera


Lobster over heirloom tomatoes and roasted vegetables (onions, eggplant, red, yellow and green peppers) on a Himalayan salt block, topped with extra virgin olive oil and caviar.


Hickory smoked Hawaiian Walu served over a tomato, artichoke and bacon ragout with parsley. Celery broth on the side.


Delicious Duck being plated by Chef Esko


Roasted Duck Breast with a rhubarb and star anise glaze served with grilled king oyster mushrooms, diced duck salami and shaved broccoli. 2005 Proprieta Sperino “Lessona”


Dessert medley: Hazelnut praline tart, chocolate sphere with chocolate mousse and raspberry preserves, chocolate molten lava cake, vanilla creme brulee and white chocolate mousse.


This was another exceptional dining experience!!!! Chef Esko has been one of my favorite chefs in DC and this night’s meal was the perfect ending to a great ride and an open invitation to Barcelona.


Up Next: Spiaggia


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A Quintessential Evening with Quintessa….

April 25th, 2014

For those of you vicariously experiencing my gastronomic indulgence from Chef Esko at the Grill Room, here’s your chance to get in on some amazing cuisine paired with world class wine by one of the few Master Sommeliers in the US.  Hope to see you there……

Come experience the current Quintessa release as well as a very special library vintage and other offerings from this exceptional winery. Paired with the highly sought after and skillfully executed cuisine of Executive Chef Jakob Esko, this experience promises to be one you’ll remember. Special guest Larry Stone, GM of Quintessa, Estate Director at Huneeus Vintners and Master Sommelier will guide you through and expose you to the hidden expressions of Quintessa.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cocktails and canapés: 6:30pm, dinner to follow at 7:00pm.



$180 per person (excluding tax and gratuities).
For reservations please call 202.617.2424 or visit www.thegrillroomdc.com.

“The Grill Room”
1050 31st STREET NW

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Amoureuses & Chateaubriand…On a Tuesday Night???

April 17th, 2014

This night cloistered inside my home was inspired by and for the love of beauty and refinement in the art of food and wine.  To have Amoureuses, which means “Lovers” in French and Chateaubriand, named after François-René de Chateaubriand, who was considered to be the founder of Romanticism in French literature, made this special meal at home simply fantastic and worthy of a repeat.

My career started in a gourmet food and wine establishment, which developed and enhanced my appreciation for excellence in haute cuisine and refined wine.   This educational process engendered a certain appreciation for refined taste that I’ve grown to love and somehow managed to maintain.  This could be viewed cynically as “decadent” or “down right aristocratic gluttony”, but this labor of love educated a spirit of discernment, and I must at every possible moment seek meaningful pleasure – - even if it’s not the weekend.

So with a little help from a delicious homemade brown sugar and balsamic vinegar glaze and ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and pesto, this Tuesday evening in was truly inspired by love.  The silky, elegant yet firm 2004 Amoureuses and a heavenly cut of Chateaubriand reminded me of the necessary labor one must endure to truly appreciate “The Good Life.”


2004 Joseph Drouhin 1er Cru Chambolle-Musigny “Amoureuses”


Chateaubriand with Brown Sugar & Balsamic Vinegar Glaze and Ravioli stuffed with Goat Cheese


Match Made In Heaven….



So, if it’s love you seek, consider the food you eat!!!!


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Pascal Doquet – - My Kind of Brut Rosé!

April 8th, 2014

NV Pascal Doquet

This grower Champagne is a must try – Finesse, Elegance, Refinement and a long lingering finish that makes you wonder how has one lived without this sumptuous offering.  A wonderful blend of Chardonnay (68%) and Pinot Noir (32%), this delicate yet firm rosé has something to offer every palate under the sun but, you must be open to instant gratification.  The complexity displayed in this bottling comes from blending vintages ’03, ’04, and ’05.  With an aging process that includes tanks and cask, as well as three months sur-lies, your palate will forever be delighted by the depth of fruit, judicious minerals and perfectly balanced dryness.  So while one takes in the “season of rosés,” make room for those coming from Champagne!!!

NV Pascal Doquet with Italian Flatbread


The perfect Monday night in – - and yes, I’m enjoying this amazing bottle with a lovely Italian flatbread.

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