Chef Gaetano Cicciotti grew up in Naples, Italy. As a child, he spent hours in the kitchen watching his mother and grandmother cook with simple, fresh local ingredients. Their knowledge and love of food sparked Chef Gaetano’s career as a chef. In 2002, he opened Cicciotti’s Trattoria in Cardiff by the Sea, CA. Cicciotti’s Kitchen cookbook includes recipes served in the restaurant as well as family recipes. Ranging from very easy to somewhat advanced cooking techniques, the recipes take you on a journey of Italian cuisine. The cookbook is broken up into sections: Salse (Sauces), Antipasti (Appetizers), Zuppe (Soup), Paste (Pasta), and Specialità (Specialties).
In the Antipasti section, we tried the Gamberi Margherita con Polenta (Shrimp in Cream Sauce with Polenta). The one thing I would change in this recipe is to prepare the polenta first. It took longer to cook based on the package directions. To mold the polenta, it needs to cool a bit to set. We didn’t have time to let it cool so it came out more like cheese grits versus polenta. I also found the polenta a bit bland so I doctored it up with double the gorgonzola and added granulated garlic. The cream sauce and shrimp turned out perfectly and we loved the flame of brandy as a show effect.
In the Zuppe section, we tried the Zuppa di Zucchine (Zucchini Soup). This soup is fantastico! The zucchini (skin and all), onions, and potatoes worked really well together. Once in the blender, it was silky, smooth, and luscious on the palate. If you love split pea soup, you’ll love this even more. It has a refreshing, yet hearty flavor, but not too heavy. One addition would be fried bacon or pancetta mixed in, sort of like ham with split pea soup, to give it a little saltiness and smokiness for richer flavor. If you don’t like zucchini, you can also replace it with cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, or asparagus. Otherwise, this is a great soup that can be served any season.
In the Specialità section, we tried the Pollo al Marsala (Chicken with Marsala Sauce). Perfect recipe! You can buy boneless breasts and scaloppini (pound the meat to desired thickness) or you can buy it already pounded at Sprouts (4 breast per package, perfect for the recipe). This was the easiest of the three recipes and was my favorite. The chicken cooks quickly and the sauce is done in less than 15 minutes. The Marsala sauce is glossy from the marsala wine and butter finish and gently coats the chicken like a silk blanket. The mushrooms absorbed the sauce and matched perfectly in flavor and texture with the chicken. Perfecto!
There were so many other recipes I wanted to try in the cookbook like Carpaccio di Manzo (Beef Carpaccio) and Fettuccine all’Aragosta con Frutti di Mare (Lobster and Seafood Fettuccine), that this cookbook will be in eternal rotation in our household.
For more information:
Cicciotti’s Kitchen by Gaetano Cicciotti
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1933 San Elijo Ave
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
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- Friday through Sunday from 12pm-10pm
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