Carlo Middione’s Calabrian-style lamb chops with anchovy and artichokes, at Luce. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Konnichiwa! So I have to tell you, I had another review lined up for today, but I was so fired up and excited by my dinner at Jiro SF (the guest chef sushi experience at Saison’s private chef counter) on Wednesday night that I put it aside and cranked this review out instead. When I got home late after my dinner, my mind was positively whirring, I was so inspired by it all that it was hard to fall asleep (a true sushi high). Since Jiro’s omakase sushi experience is only going to be with us until the end of May (for now), I wanted to tell you about it as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it.
Last night was special for another reason: I was invited to attend a dinner in honor of Carlo Middione and his wife Lisa (of Vivande Porta Via fame) at Luce. It was a packed house, full of regulars and friends, some who traveled from quite far to be there. I attended with a fellow SF old-timer friend who has lived in the city as long as I have—but we met in Venice more than 24 years ago (our mutual friend used to work at Vivande).
There was a display of memorabilia from Carlo’s many years of cooking, and we were gifted one of his vintage cookbooks, which was waiting for us on our table (such a thoughtful gesture). Just when I was reminiscing about his eggplant sandwiches (one of my favorite snacks evah), a tray of them appeared, and his former right-hand man, Mark Fantino, promised to teach me how to make them (you can read a thoughtful homage to Carlo he wrote here).
The team at Luce did a stellar job preparing and serving Carlo’s recipes to that many people, from the stuffed squid to a trio of housemade tagliatelle to the Calabrian-style lamb chop with anchovies and baby artichoke hearts. The wine pairings were quite special, and I’m always happy to see some Southern Italian wines represented.
I had a chance to chat with Carlo, who said he is still working hard to get his sense of taste back, which sometimes turns on for a moment so what he’s tasting matches up in his mind of what the flavor should be. He said he has never appreciated the texture of food like he does now. He was looking great, beaming like a happy man with a roomful of friends and past regulars should.
I loved riding my bike home in the warm and still air, one of those idyllic San Francisco nights that living here for 20 years makes you appreciate all the more.
Have a fantastic weekend.