When Brian and I took the boys to Italy, we wanted to eat lunch at a place near the Vatican that a lot of these Italian travelers recommended. It was a lunch we never forgot. We still talk about it and laugh. The place is Dino and Tony's and it is run by two brothers - Dino out front and Tony in the kitchen, neither of whom speak English. When we arrived for lunch, we were not offered menus at all. Dino told us he was going to bring out special antipasti for us and then asked if we like pasta. Well, sure, we said. Before we knew what was happening, he disappeared into the kitchen and then brought out two pizzas, a platter of prosciutto and salami, a platter of grilled vegetables, a platter of potato croquettes, fried olives stuffed with meat and a bottle of Chianti. This was just the antipasti! Then he delivered large bowls of radicchio risotto. "Where is the pasta?" I asked him. "After the risotto," he said. I knew we were in trouble. The risotto was so good, I couldn't believe it. Then the pasta came - Rigatoni Amatraciana. Delicious and perfectly cooked. Dino came to our table again and announced "Dolci!" and presented us with an assortment of desserts and dessert wine. We were all groaning.
When you need a dessert for a lot of people, this is it. This beautiful pie is baked in a rimmed sheet pan and serves at least 12 people. It's perfect for the Fourth of July because cherries are in season right now. If you have even more people to feed,you can even make two pies - one with cherries and one with blueberries for a real Fourth of July look.
There are many ways to make garlic bread and I certainly make it different ways. But this way is by far my favorite. In Italy, to celebrate the first olive oil of the season, they make this simple fettunta - or "greased slice". It's simply grilled bread, rubbed with a garlic clove, drizzled with the best olive oil you have, and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt. You won't believe how great it is. There is a very unique taste you get if you use a raw garlic clove on a slice of fresh bread. If you want, you can add a topping to make bruschetta, but this is my favorite way to make garlic bread to accompany dinner. Many times I buy a whole grain or multi grain loaf to make this with and it's delicious. As always, with simple recipes with few ingredients you need to use the best ingredients you can - a good, fruity extra virgin olive oil and some outstanding sea salt.*