Tonight in Seattle:  

Mid-August Lunch: Mangia Italiano

Mid-August Lunch

{Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) opens in Seattle Friday, April 30 at The Guild 45th}

Mid-August Lunch is just about the cutest movie I’ve ever seen – which is not something I expected, as it’s billed prominently as “from the makers of Gomorrah”.

In stark contrast to the gritty 2008 crime film, Screenwriter Gianni Di Gregorio wrote, directed and stars in this charming comedy about a man short on cash who makes a deal with his landlord to forgive certain debts IF he’ll accept a guest over the August 15th Italian holiday, Ferragosto. 

Already burdened with being the caretaker for his 93-year-old Mama, Gianni soon finds himself cooking and entertaining for three more ladies in their small apartment.  His landlord’s mother and aunt, plus doctor’s mother, are all dropped off in exchange for favors.

Starting out with lots of drama (as you would expect when that many women are in the same house), but ending with lots of laughter, this film is a perfect light, uplifting story. Valeria De Francis, Marina Caccioti, Maria Calì and Grazia Cesarini Sforza are all amazing as the women, and Gianni is the perfect gentlemen foil.

In addition, the food Gianni cooks, the wine he drinks, and the beautiful Roman scenery made me wish I were back in Italy right NOW. Loved, loved, loved this movie. Go see it!

BONUS! The PR people included some recipes from the film, so I have to share one with you. I recommend you prepare directly after seeing it.

Pasta Al Forno
1 lb. mezze rigatoni
1 carrot, medium sliced
I celery stalk, medium sliced
1 onion, thinly (but not extremely) sliced
¼ lb. pancetta, diced
1 link pork sausage
½ cup white wine
2 cups crushed tomatoes (or 2 lbs good quality fresh)
¾ lb fresh mozzarella, sliced medium thickness
¼ lb grated parmesan
fine bread crumbs, fresh or from Italian grocery
salt

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the ragu: sauté the celery, carrot and onion until the onion is softening; add the pancetta, sausage meat broken into pieces; and the white wine. When the wine is evaporated, add the crushed tomatoes and salt and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark start boiling the water for the pasta. If the sauce becomes too dry add a ladle of warm
water.

Cook the pasta in abundantly salted water for about 6 minutes. Drain, stop the cooking under a jet of cold water, and mix in a bowl with the ragu.

Take a 9” square baking tray, cover the surface with bread crumbs and pour half of the pasta mixture. Over that put a layer of mozzarella slices and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta and the remaining Parmesan. Reduce oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

To go with this meal Gianni recommends red wine: Ribolla gialla (from Friuli), Montefalco (from Umbria)

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