Release Date: June 10, 2011
Summer Dishes Added to Garden Café Italia, Created by Chef Fabio Trabocchi in Honor of Italian Art Exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC—As summer arrives in Washington, Chef Fabio Trabocchi of the Penn Quarter restaurant Fiola has revamped the National Gallery of Art Garden Café menu with lighter options inspired by a stellar exhibition of Italian drawings—Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835, on view through November 27, 2011. Chef Trabocchi first created signature Italian dishes for the Garden Café Italia menu in honor of Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals (February 20–May 30, 2011), and will revise the menu once again in the fall to celebrate Antico: The Golden Age of Renaissance Bronzes (November 6, 2011–April 8, 2012). Chef Trabocchi's Garden Café Italia menu, consisting of a buffet as well as à la carte dishes, is also inspired by Italian masterpieces belonging to the Gallery's renowned permanent collection.
The Garden Café Italia menu will be served through March 20, 2012, and is presented in partnership with Restaurant Associates and Executive Chef David Rogers at the National Gallery of Art.
Garden Café Italia
Chef Trabocchi developed the Garden Café Italia menu with an eye to the fresh produce sold in Italian farmers' markets, especially melanzane (eggplant), one of his favorite vegetables. It is used in many Italian recipes, for example in baked dishes from the country's northern region and as contorni (side dishes). Canaletto's masterpiece The "Giovedì Grasso" Festival before the Ducal Palace in Venice (1763/1766) is a highlight of the Italian Master Drawings exhibition, and the chef maintains the same rustic approach used in classic recipes that were mainstays in the Venetian diet of Canaletto's time—a wonderfully varied selection of fresh, locally grown ingredients.
The à la carte menu features mozzarella caprese (buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil, $13.00); prosciutto San Daniele (dry-cured ham and marinated eggplant served with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and aged balsamic vinegar, $12.00); and tortellini al basilica e mozzarella (basil tortellini with buffalo mozzarella, $14.00). Desserts include classic tiramisu with chocolate sauce, gelato stracciatella (vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings), and lemon sorbet with berry compote ($8.00 each).
Chef Trabocchi's buffet ($19.75) presents an array of customary Italian dishes, beginning with a selection of Italian breads and cured meats served with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and marinated Castelvetrano olives. For main courses, the buffet offers pollo in potacchio (chicken with rosemary, garlic, and tomato sauce); buccatini with pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; and baked eggplant with tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mozzarella. A refreshing new summer dish is the watermelon salad with yellow tomatoes, Pecorino Romano cheese, and a white balsamic dressing. The final touch is lattarolo, traditional Italian custard flavored with vanilla and honey.
White, red, and sparkling Italian wines have been carefully selected to complement the menu, along with beer (Birra Moretti, Udine, Italy) and signature cocktails (Campari and soda, Bellini, and spritz). Juice, soda, and still or sparkling bottled water are available, as are authentic Italian illy brand coffee, espresso, and tea produced in Trieste, Italy. Recipe cards for selected dishes are offered to guests free of charge.
Garden Café Italia is open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. One of the most distinctive dining spots in the nation's capital, the Garden Café features a 19th-century French marble sculpture after Jacopo Sansovino, Bacchus and a Faun, and a fountain with Herbert Adams' bronze Girl with Water Lilies (model 1928).
The Garden Café is located in the West Building near the entrance at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. To make reservations for groups of eight or more, please contact the café manager at (202) 712-7454. For more information about the Gallery and its restaurants, visit www.nga.gov/dining.
Chef Trabocchi prides himself on his attention to detail, extensive knowledge of Italy's culinary heritage, technique, and creative imagination. His passion for cooking was nurtured by his father and grandparents as he grew up in Italy's Le Marche region. He was already comfortable in the kitchen by the age of eight, and decided to pursue culinary school in his early teens. After a progression of apprenticeships in kitchens throughout the region, he was working in the kitchen of a three-star Michelin restaurant, Gualtiero Marchesi, at age 16, and at 18 he was responsible for the entire kitchen staff at the Michelin one-star Navalge Moena.
In London, Trabocchi began to showcase his own culinary style at the celebrated Floriana, where he won the Carlton Award for London's Best Young Chef in 1999. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC then invited him to design his own kitchen and create the vision and concept for Maestro in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, which opened in 2001. At Maestro, his study in the evolution of Italian cuisine brought him acclaim. He was named Food & Wine's Best New Chef in 2002, Chef of the Year in 2005 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, and the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef—Mid-Atlantic in 2006. As the restaurant's chef de cuisine, he also earned a series of four-star reviews from The Washington Post. Later, his tenure at Fiamma in New York City from 2007 to 2010 was well received: Frank Bruni awarded him three stars in The New York Times, a rave review that joins others from such publications as New York Daily News, and New York Magazine, as well as a one-star rating by the 2009 Michelin Guide.
Trabocchi recently returned to Washington for his newest project, the celebrated Fiola, which opened in April at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Fiola ("little girl" or "sweetheart" in Italian) is Trabocchi's nickname for his daughter. The new restaurant is a modern Italian trattoria with an emphasis on fresh ingredients from local farms and markets. The menu changes daily, focusing on seasonal ingredients served in a casual, comfortable setting designed by GrizForm Design Architects.
Trabocchi and his family—wife Maria, daughter Aliche (9), and son Luca (7)—live within walking distance of the Gallery and visit often, attending skating lessons at the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink during the winter months and exploring the museum. Trabocchi and his wife are fans of jazz music, and are excited to enjoy this summer's Jazz in the Garden concert series. Trabocchi's blog includes updates about Garden Café Italia and Fiola. The Gallery Shops offer his cookbook, Cucina of Le Marche (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006), a celebration of his personal culinary heritage coauthored with Peter Kaminsky.
Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835
The splendors of Italian draftsmanship from the late Renaissance to the height of the neoclassical movement are showcased in an exhibition of 65 superb drawings assembled by the European private collector Wolfgang Ratjen (1943−1997). Works are featured by many of the most important artists of the period, from Giulio Romano to Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo. Of special note is an excellent group of drawings by Venetian artists, including Domenico Tintoretto, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Canaletto, whose elegant rendering of the "Giovedì Grasso" festival in Venice is perhaps his finest surviving drawing. The exhibition will be on view in the West Building through November 27, 2011.
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and made possible through the generous support of the STIFTUNG RATJEN, Liechtenstein.
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Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835
May 8–November 27, 2011
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