This article first appeared in Finansavisen Premium.
– Italian cuisine in a few words? Few ingredients of the best possible quality, treated in the best possible way, such is the constant definition of brothers Luca and Davide Zannini, little sister Alice and the other Italians of Mamma Pizza, probably the most authentic Italian restaurant in ‘Oslo.
Luca and Davide came to Norway seven or eight years ago to open a restaurant, not because of the love that often animates such contexts, but because they wanted to cook Italian dishes in a foreign country. Since they had a number of Norwegian friends, they considered it as natural to move to Norway as anywhere else.
ANCIENT ARTS: Making tortellini is an art. It helps with little fingers, you can twist them, which is why Alice (middle) and Agnese have a significantly better hand than Davide. Photo: Eivind Yggeseth / Finansavisen
Armed with their 1973 “nun” Tina’s cookbook and threatening that Norwegians would enjoy Italian pizza and other street food, they opened Mamma Pizza in Dronningens gate, a stone’s throw from Oslo Central Station, far from the best neighborhood in town.
– There are two reasons for that, said Davide.
– One is that it is cheaper to rent here than elsewhere, the other is that Nonna Tina’s own bar in Bologna is located in the train station and we would like to pay tribute to her. Tina opened the bar just after WWII, and served coffee and paninis, and later pizza, and there she met her grandfather who had been a partisan. His name was Ivo Perrini, but he was known by the nickname “Leo” because of his courage, and Luca named one of his sons after him.
Big brother Luca and two years her junior Davide grew up with Tina’s kitchen at Bar Bianco in the Italian city of Bologna, known for its mortadella sausage, ragú and much more. Here they ran and tasted, learned the trade and received an education largely centered on the pleasures of the table, as is often the case in Italy.
They inherited their grandmother’s cookbook, Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by Anna Gosetti della Salda, a lexical collection of recipes that is to Italians what Ingrid Espelid Hovig’s checkered cookbook is to Italians. Norwegians. The well-used cookbook with remarks and notes by Nonna Tina, is both the holy grail and the lucky amulet of Mamma Pizza.
Although the cuisine of the region of Emilia-Romagna, which is the birthplace of the brothers, is the one they know best, the restaurant also serves dishes from other regions of Italy, including Sicily and Palermo, where chef Alessandro is from.
So that Finansavisen readers can dream of going to Italy by the palate, Mamma Pizza’s gang teaches a three-course menu that’s affordable for most everyday chefs, but where great ingredients are an obvious prerequisite. If the mozzarella is low quality, then the taste will be, so be careful when buying the ingredients you need.
Two of the dishes are Sicilian and one from Bologna, but as Luca Zannini says:
– We have to sacrifice some Bolognese honor today.
Check out the recipes here:
Recipe: Arancine al ragú (10 pieces)
Arancine is Sicilian street food in the form of fried rice balls with filling, covered in breadcrumbs. There are several varieties, and two of the most common are al ragú and al burro, both of which feature on the menu at Mamma Pizza.
For the rice:
- 1 kg of rice (carnaroli or vialone nano type)
- 100g butter
- A pinch of saffron
- Salt and pepper to taste and as needed
For the filling:
- Bolognese sauce (feel free to make your own)
For the breading:
- 6-8 tablespoons of flour 00 (possibly a little more, depending on the quantity absorbed by the arancini)
- Water as needed
First boil the rice in 2.2 liters of vegetable stock. Take a saucepan with the butter and saffron, and mix into a perfectly creamy and melted rice mixture. Transfer to a plate to cool the rice. Add the bolognese sauce and the grated mozzarella to the rice, moisten your hands with cold water and form small balls.
Put the flour and a few tablespoons of water in a high-sided bowl to make a thick, sticky batter that isn’t too runny. Dip the arancine and make sure it is completely covered in the paste. Then transfer it to the breadcrumbs and make sure to cover the whole ball.
Fry in plenty of peanut oil with two, maximum three, arancine at a time. Only put them in the oil when it has reached a temperature of 175 degrees. The best way to gauge the ideal temperature is to dip a toothpick in oil. If it’s covered in bubbles, it’s ready. The arancine needs about two minutes to cook. Place them on a paper that can absorb the residual oil when they are golden brown.
Recipe: Tortellini with brodo
Tortellini in brodo (stuffed, small loops of pasta filled with meat, served in force) are among the cornerstones of the cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna region, and in particular of the neighboring cities of Bologna and Modena which are at the times on the origin and where to make the best version. Tying the little loops requires little fingers.
For the pasta:
For the filling:
- 250 g mortadella
- 200 g raw ham
- 250 g grated parmesan
- 1 egg
- Meat broth for serving
Start with the filling: Chop the mortadella and the ham and mix well. Add the eggs, parmesan and grated nutmeg and mix everything together. Leave it in the fridge for a while – the longer the better the taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Shape the choux pastry and form a ball. Leave to stand for one hour at room temperature in a food bag before rolling it out into a thin “sheet”. With a small pizza cutter, you make squares of approx. 3 – 3.5 cm and put a small pinch of stuffing in the middle. Fold diagonally over the filling to make a triangle, and gently press down on the dough to release all the air and seal each piece. Close in a ring, matching the two bottom corners by twisting them around the tip of the little finger and slightly overlapping the dough. Wrap the tortellini, placing them one by one on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour and covered with baking paper, so that they do not stick to the surface.
Boil the tortellini in the broth and ladle them out when al dente (about two minutes). Served in hot broth.
Recipe: Cannoli (16 pieces)
A cannolo (plural cannoli) is a Sicilian delicacy, a tubular, fried pastry shell filled with sweet ricotta cream which can also be flavored with, for example, chocolate, pistachio, rose water, vanilla and other sweets.
For the cannolo shell:
- 250 g flour 00 + a little to “sprinkle”
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 50g sugar
- 30 g lard (or soft butter)
- 1 beaten egg yolk (keep the egg white to close the cannolo)
- 50ml Marsala
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- Vanilla (1 packet or 1 tbsp extract)
- 3g salt
- Frying oil
For the filling:
- 800 g perfectly drained sauerkraut
- 250g sugar
- 100 g dark chocolate (burst)
- 1 handful of pistachios (finely chopped)
- Slightly candied orange peel
Transfer the dry ricotta to a bowl, add the sugar and mix well, before straining the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the sugar crystals. Repeat three times for the consistency to be creamy and velvety.
Mix the dough ingredients with a blender or by hand until smooth. If the dough becomes too dry, you can add a little water. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Then take the dough out and knead it with a rolling pin or in a dough machine, and make very thin layers (0.5 mm). Cut 10 x 10 cm squares with a pizza cutter. In the middle of each square, place a steel cylinder (available at a kitchen store, but can also be made even with somewhat thick aluminum) diagonally, so that it runs from corner to corner. the other. Firmly press one flap of dough onto the cylinder, brush the other flap with the egg white you have set aside and fold it around the cylinder. It is important that the dough is completely cold before baking in order to obtain the classic bubbles.
Heat the oil to 175 degrees and fry one cannolo at a time. It takes about a minute, be sure to turn it several times in the oil. Lift it up on absorbent paper and immediately remove the steel cylinder. Once cooled, fill the cannolo with the ricotta cream and dip one end in chopped pistachios and the other in grated chocolate. Garnish with a strip of ricotta cream on top of each cannolo and place a small piece of candied orange in the cream. Sprinkle some icing sugar to give it a nicer look.