Pasta is comfort food, and some leading restaurateurs are hoping it can help people in need after the Aug. 24 earthquake that struck central Italy. Nearly 300 people were killed and hundreds more wounded as a result of the 6.2-magnitude quake. The town of Amatrice in Lazio was particularly hard-hit, with most buildings all but destroyed by the quake and aftershocks.
Amatrice is known for Amatriciana, a pasta sauce based on guanciale (pork cheeks), pecorino cheese and tomato. A campaign launched last week by Italian food blogger Paolo Campana encouraged Italian restaurants to donate part of their sales of pasta all’Amatriciana to the Italian Red Cross.
Several Italian restaurants known for their excellence in wine jumped at this opportunity to help. Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Antica Bottega del Vino in Verona and Best of Award of Excellence winners Acanto in Milan and Borgo Antico, located just outside Verona, are donating all of the proceeds from their Amatriciana dishes to the cause. Ristorante La Torre, a Best of Award of Excellence winner in Florence, is contributing €3 per dish to the Amatriciana campaign and matching all employee donations. Best of Award of Excellence winner Ristorante Walter Redaelli in Sinalunga is donating €2 from each porcini mushroom gnocchi dish sold.
Restaurants across the U.S. have followed suit, donating proceeds to the Italian Red Cross or other quake-relief efforts. Marta and Maialino, Italian restaurants in Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, were among the first restaurants to respond to the call, announcing they would donate 100 percent of their Amatriciana sales.
Felidia Ristorante, a Best of Award of Excellence winner in New York City, is donating $5 of every Amatriciana dish they sell for an entire year. “This is our small way of paying homage to Amatrice, one of the hardest-hit towns from the earthquake, and we’re hoping it will help,” said wine director Jeff Taylor.
Felidia will also be throwing a benefit dinner, Una Cena per Ricominciare, on Thursday, Sept. 15. A four-course dinner will feature dishes from Lazio, Marche and Umbria, with wines from the regions to pair with. Tickets are $350 per person and all proceeds will be donated to the Italian Red Cross.
Also in New York City, Barbetta is donating 10 percent of all of its sales for the next two months to the cause. La Masseria and Masseria dei Vini in New York, Caci North Fork on Long Island, La Morra in Brookline, Mass., and Osteria Philadelphia are all contributing as well.
Foodiamo, an online guide to Italian food and culture in the U.S., has rallied Italian restaurants across California to contribute to the Amatriciana for Amatrice campaign. Participating restaurants include several Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana locations, Osteria Mamma, Osteria Mozza, Toscana and Anaheim White House, which are all contributing some or all of their Amatriciana sales.
Restaurants in Chicago are also pitching in. At Acanto, wine offerings from Umbria and Lazio are 50 percent off, and 50 percent of these sales will go to earthquake relief. Nico Osteria is giving $2 for every spaghetti all’Amatriciana sold through Sept. 8. Piccolo Sogno is donating 100 percent of their spaghetti all’Amatriciana sales and matching the money raised through Sept. 28.
In Atlanta, Sotto Sotto is donating 100 percent of its Amatriciana sales, and St. Cecilia and No. 246 is giving 50 percent of its Amatriciana sales to the Italian Red Cross. So eat up! It’s for a good cause.