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Release Date: February 7, 2011

Chef Fabio Trabocchi Creates Garden Café Italia in Honor of Exhibitions And Collection of Italian Art at the National Gallery of Art
New Menu Starts February 11

Washington, DC—In honor of the exhibitions Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals (February 20–May 30, 2011) and Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835 (May 8–November 27, 2011), Chef Fabio Trabocchi is transforming the menu in the Garden Café from February 11, 2011, to March 20, 2012, with signature Italian dishes. Chef Trabocchi has returned from New York to DC to open the highly anticipated restaurant Fiola in Penn Quarter, scheduled to debut this spring. In creating the Garden Café Italia menu, he has also looked to the Gallery's renowned collection of Italian masterpieces for inspiration. Offered as a buffet as well as à la carte, dishes will change seasonally.

Garden Café Italia 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 Venice's marine setting, so beautifully captured by Canaletto and his contemporaries. "Looking at the paintings, what comes to mind is the smell of the brodetto (stew) near the water and the melanzane (eggplant), one of my favorite vegetables," Trabocchi says. It is used in many Italian recipes—in the north in baked dishes and as contorni (side dishes) as well. 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 fish prepared with 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 basilico e mozzarella (basil tortellini with buffalo mozzarella, $14.00). Desserts include classic tiramisu with chocolate sauce, hazelnut-chocolate ice cream, and lemon sorbet with berry compote ($8.00 each).

At $19.75, Chef Trabocchi's buffet 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. From there, buffet diners may enjoy a Venetian seafood stew with green tomatoes, peppers, and saffron; arugula salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and lemon; and roast beef carpaccio with radicchio, Pecorino Romano cheese, and balsamic vinegar. For main courses, the buffet offers macaroni served with tomato-braised beef oxtail and Pecorino Romano cheese, and baked eggplant with tomato, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mozzarella. 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 also 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, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. A preconcert menu of light fare, desserts, and beverages is offered from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays to accommodate visitors who attend the free Sunday evening concerts in the West Garden Court. One of the most distinctive dining spots in the nation's capital, the Garden Café features a 19th-century French marble 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

Fabio Trabocchi

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 became comfortable in the kitchen by the age of 8 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. 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, The Washington Post, and New York Magazine, as well as a one-star rating by the 2009 Michelin Guide.

Trabocchi recently returned to Washington, DC, for his newest project, the eagerly anticipated Fiola at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, scheduled to open in the spring of 2011. Fiola (which means "little girl" or "sweetheart") is Trabocchi's nickname for his daughter. The new restaurant will be a modern Italian trattoria with an emphasis on fresh ingredients from local farms and markets. The menu will change daily, focusing on seasonal ingredients served in a casual, comfortable setting designed by GrizForm Design Architects.

Trabocchi and his family—his wife Maria, daughter Aliche (age 9), and son Luca (age 7)—live within walking distance of the Gallery and visit often, attending skating lessons at the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink and exploring the museum. Trabocchi and his wife are fans of jazz music, and eagerly anticipate this summer's Jazz in the Garden concert series. Trabocchi's blog will include updates about Garden Café Italia and Fiola. The Gallery Shops will offer his cookbook, Cucina of Le Marche (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006), a celebration of his personal culinary heritage co-authored with Peter Kaminsky.

Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, celebrate a rich variety of Venetian views with some 20 masterpieces by Canaletto and more than 30 by his contemporaries, including Gaspare Vanvitelli, Luca Carlevarijs, Michele Marieschi, Bernardo Bellotto, and Francesco Guardi. Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, on view from February 20 through May 30, 2011, in the East Building, represents the best view painters of Venice. Each artist responded to the city in his own way, and each competed in a market driven largely by the Grand Tour, which was at its height during the 18th century.

The entrance to the exhibition will feature a 37-foot-long gondola that once belonged to the American painter Thomas Moran and is now in the collection of the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia. One of the world's oldest gondolas, it will visually transport visitors to the lagoon city celebrated in the views of Canaletto and his rivals.

The convergence of art and science will be represented in a monumental first edition of Iconografica Rappresentatione della Inclita Città di Venezia (1729), one of the greatest printed maps of cities, and two 18th-century examples of the camera obscura, an optical device possibly used by the view painters.

Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals has been organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the sole U.S. venue for the show, and the National Gallery, London.

The exhibition in Washington is made possible by the Bracco Foundation, which promotes cultural, scientific, and artistic expressions to improve the quality of life. It is also made possible through the generous support of the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation. Additional support is kindly provided by Sally Engelhard Pingree and The Charles Engelhard Foundation. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The exhibition is part of ITALY@150, a series of activities in Washington, DC, and throughout the United States, that celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and the long-lasting friendship between the two countries.

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. Outstanding Venetian examples include those by such artists as 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 from May 8 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.

General Information

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