Sammy and Annie’s Café to serve Old-School Italian Sunday Dinner with a twist

Sammy and Annie’s Café Monthly Dinner Series

 

Thirty-year-old Chris Giruzzi grew up listening to stories of Sunday traditions in the local Italian neighborhoods. His parents and grandparents would talk about how families would treat Sundays as open houses, where family and friends would stop by for coffee, conversation, and, of course, food.

“Sunday was like an open house,” said Chris’s mother Annette Giruzzi. “After church, you would go visit your grandparents and cousins and family friends and everyone would have something different to serve – there was always fried meatballs and different families would have different courses. Our house, my mom would have the meatballs. My cousins would have the cold cuts and bread.”

Chris Giruzzi, owner of Sammy and Annie’s The Store and Café, 717 Bleecker St., intends to emulate that tradition with the café’s first old fashioned Sunday dinner at 3 p.m. Oct. 12. Reservations are required and pre-payment of $60 is preferred online at www.sammyandanniefoods.com or at the café. Only 20 seats will be available.

“This will be a first in a monthly series and each will have a different theme,” Chris Giruzzi said. “This month is the old fashioned Italian Sunday dinner my parents had when they were growing up. That’s lacking now, and is not as big in the culture anymore. As the older generation passes on, tradition is dying, so as the new generation, I want to keep that going.”

Since the café opened about a year ago, Chris Giruzzi has stuck to serving lunches and selling local and farm-raised foods, but the new dinner offering will give him the opportunity to show off his recipe- and menu-building skills for a finer dining experience. It also will continue what he’s started with the café by merging the Old Italian food traditions he learned from his grandparents (whom the café is named after) with his own twist of incorporating local, farm-raised ingredients.

“It’s the traditional Sunday dinner with our interpretation – we’ll have at least six courses, and of course we’ll have the local element and the final menu will be determined by what we find at the Saturday (farmers) market,” Chris Giruzzi said. “The different courses will represent the full day that my mother remembers experiencing growing up.”

Seating will be family style and presentation will be a mix of modern plating and traditional family style. The menu will boast favorite Italian traditions with some surprise twists.

Attendees likely will see such courses on the menu as a cold cut platter, fried meatballs, pizzas made with local cheeses, pasta fagioli or minestrone, a variation of traditional chicken and potatoes made with local meats and ingredients, a pasta dish made with a traditional red sauce, and a dessert course made up of various Italian cookies and pustis homemade in the café with as many local ingredients as possible.

Attendees will be treated to variations of the Italian specialties, notably pustis with a twist, such as chocolate peanut butter pustis with a chocolate pusti shell and peanut butter custard filling. Another twist on an Italian favorite might be Bucatini all’Amatriciana. The dish features bucatini – a straw-like pasta – topped with a red sauce traditionally made with onion, pepper and guanciale (cured pig jowl). Because guanciale can’t be found locally, Chris will use a local fatty bacon and will make his own pasta using local ingredients.

“This is a tentative preview of the menu, but really, we want this to be a surprise and feel like the old days for people – especially those in East Utica who remember those days,” Chris said. “I love creating new menus, incorporating new ideas, sharing our family recipes and this is an opportunity to show our dinner skills that people might not see at lunch and show some favorite family recipes that wouldn’t make sense for lunch.”

[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”center” width=”” float=”none”]Sammy and Annie’s Café Monthly Dinner Series October:
Six Course (Or More) Italian Sunday Dinner
Time: 3 p.m.
Date: Sunday, Oct. 12
Place: Sammy and Annie Foods The Store and Café, 717 Bleecker St., Utica
Local ingredients from local farmers and producers include: Jones Family Farm, FairHaven Farm, Szarek’s Greenhouses, Kriemhild Dairy Farms, Utica Coffe Roasting Company and more.
Cost: $60 (tax, gratuity and beverages included) Reservations must be made with payment through the Web site www.sammyandanniefoods.com or by stopping at the café.
Contact information: chris@sammyandanniefoods.com; Phone: 896-2173[/symple_box]

Cassaundra Baber
– The Fuze Magazine

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