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PatPourri —Bit and Pieces for Starters 07.29.11

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BITS AND PIECES
FOR STARTERS

Updated: October 27, 2011 12:34AM



The Carnaroli rice used in one of the small plates (“crispy Carnaroli rice”) at Perennial Virant is one of the better types on the market, which is why that appetizer worked.

In the pecking order of quality short-grain rice used for making risotto, it goes like this (acceptable to exceptional): Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone. Acquerello is a special organic riso from the Piemonte region of Italy. Regardless, look for the words “fino” and “superfino” to assure that you are buying the best riso to make risotto.

Don’t be fooled by recipes that say you can use any short-grain rice to make risotto. Yes, you can, but the results will not be the same. Trust me on this.

Restaurants around town that make a proper risotto (and properly serve it on a shallow plate, not in a deep bowl) include:

Coco Pazzo (300 E. Hubbard; 312-836-0900; cocopaz zochicago.com). When white truffles come in, usually in the fall, don’t miss the risotto with white truffles. Expensive? Yes. But it is a culinary experience like no other.

Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan; 312-280-2750; spiaggiarestaurant.com) changes its risotto offerings often, be it seasonally or whatever chef Tony Mantuano feels like doing. And whatever he does, he does well A recent risotto used organic Acquerello with nettles and crispy sweetbreads.

At Quartino (626 N. State; 312-698-5000; quartinochicago.com), usually there are no fewer than four risotto creations on the menu. And Quart0ino also uses Acquerello riso, too, so you can be assured that whatever ends up on your table will be the very best.

Pat Bruno



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