4:35pm | July 23, 2014

Sophia Loren, an extraordinary meal for an extraordinary woman


Sophia Loren grew up in abject poverty. Her father abandoned the family, her mother was overwhelmed with life, and her grandmother somehow saved them by managing to create masterful meals out of nothing. Food became nourishment, family, life to her, and she has carried her appreciation for creative magic in the kitchen throughout her life.

When asked to be part of Napa Valley’s Festival Del Sole event, “Bella Italia!”, a tribute to Sophia Loren, I knew that this evening had to not be about “checking the boxes” and simply serving

Atmosphereclassic Italian fare. Rather, this had to be something extraordinary, meaningful and memorable…in honor of Sophia and, to celebrate her son, Conductor Carlo Ponti Jr. as he premiered his L.A. Virtuosi orchestra.

I spent about a week of late late nights delving into Sophia’s journey and how her experiences could be transformed into the menu. I’m from an immigrant Calabrian family. My grandmother always reminded us that, if it wasn’t for Sophia Loren, we’d never have made it to the front of the line.

I also became deeply passionate about Carlo’s own story…growing up with a world famous mother and yet staying grounded and focused on his music. And so I share with you the menu, the stories behind a few of the dishes, and my gratitude for being part of a most spectacular evening.

Please click here to read the San Francisco Chronicle’s review:

Appetizer Station: Pizza (Fritta) Montanera Starita

We created a Pizzeria Starita made famous by the film Gold of Naples with Sophia (it was her breakthrough role). She works at Starita in the film and after you see the clip you will understand why she is who she is. Although she was born in Rome she grew up in Naples.

About the pizza:  This is a very interesting method of first making dough crisp in olive oil and finishing in the wood burning oven.  Fresh uncooked tomato sauce, smoked buffalo mozzarella, pecorino.  Even without making crispy fried dough, the ingredients, especially for summertime are just perfect. It’s all about tomatoes right now.friedpizza

My Bread: Carta Musica

We wanted to honor Carlo’s accomplishments as a composer.  We were able to use sheet music, the Sinfonietta of Sophia, as in imprint into the dough. A special 3Dprinter gave us a stamp for the dough; the stamp was dipped in squid ink.

About Carta Musica: Carta Musica is a thin cracker-like bread from Sardegna (sometimes described as Sardinian parchment bread).  The name is in reference to its large and paper-thin shape, which is so thin before cooking that a sheet of music can be read through it. CartaMusicaontable




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