Marcel Proust had his madeleine; Maria Coassin has her riso gelato. Constellations of memories are stirred up by this delicate treat. Maria created riso during a difficult time in her life. She had just opened Gelatiamo in downtown Seattle at Third and Union, a difficult corner at the time. During her first winter, business was slow and all seemed cold and dark. Her window looked out on empty downtown streets. She missed Italy and wondered why she’d ever left home.
“My mind started going back to my younger years when during winter my mom used to make us Riso al Latte for dinner,” Maria says. “It’s a northern Italian tradition dating back many decades when food was scarce and the need for nutrition was high. It has always been a kids’ favorite, lighter and fulfilling, a mix between dessert and risotto. I started thinking about how I could turn that warm memory into something cold and cool.”
Filled with longing and renewed passion Maria stirred and stirred the Arborio rice with cream, milk and sugar. This signature flavor was born, one that quickly became Gelatiamo’s most popular flavor. “It truly takes me back to those winters, when all of us, seven kids, would quietly enjoy our dinner treat, made just on special occasions, almost like a celebration of times gone by,” Maria says.
This month riso is making an encore appearance as a seasonal gelato at Pagliacci. It’s delicate flavor and texture is similar to rice pudding or a creamy tapioca. And it pairs beautifully with many other flavors. It’s light and tangy with the raspberry sorbet, decadent with the chocolate or salted caramel, and fresh with the mint. Get yours while supplies last.
Our seasonal pizzas this round are the Bacon Leek Primo and the Coppa Combo. The Bacon Leek Primo takes advantage of the tender leeks sprouting up all over the Pacific Northwest this April. We roast the leeks to bring out their creamy texture and a mellow, buttery, onion-like flavor. Then we add smoky bacon, breadcrumbs, white cheddar and mozzarella on an olive oil base. A handful of fresh arugula after baking adds a peppery bite.
Coppa salami originated in the epicurean paradise of Emilia-Romagna, a region considered by many to be the culinary heart of Italy. The namesake meat of our Coppa Combo is a well-marbled, deep mahogany cut of pork shoulder that gets its brashness from smoky Spanish paprika and cumin. Coppa is typically a spicy salami, but we use a milder version. We top our coppa salami alongside our house-made pickled red onions, and serve it over fresh mozzarella and a crushed Italian tomato base. We top it with fresh arugula once it is pulled from the oven. Enjoy both seasonal pizzas through mid-May.