Ceres is the ancient Roman goddess of the harvest. She was born in Sicily, like our chef.
Recently I had the pleasure of dining at a new Chicago restaurant in a part of town that you might not stumble upon if you aren’t a local. The Sicillian born owner, Giuseppe Scurato (formerly of Boka and Landmark) brings the freshest, most local ingredients to his tradition of Sicilian cuisine, which given its trade history and geographical orientation, is quite different from my idea of Italian food. Sicilians have long enjoyed spices and flavors not indicative of other Italian regions, so I found myself eating unlikely items– currants, saffron, sardines, walnuts– and in preparations I’d never seen in my year living in Florence. Sicilians eat very little meat and the menu reflected that, full of halibut, swordfish, scallops, cod, and crab.
These were some of our favorites: (but it was all food that made you want to weep it was so good!)
Day boat scallops with lobster agnolotti, baby carrots, spring onions, cress and lobster cream sauce.
Corzetti (hand-stamped pasta) with fennel, anchovies, currants and pinenuts.
Anancini– rice balls made with artichoke and saffron rissoto, filled with taleggio.
Yukon Gold potato gnocchi, with a pesto Genovese, green beans, toasted walnuts, and parmagiano reggiano.
It was the kind of menu I love: the prices were very fair, and the portions perfect for sharing. My friends and I were joined by Giuseppe’s wife, Carolyn, who graciously walked us through the menu and suggested her house favorites, and since she lives with the chef, in this case “house” really means “house.” She is intimately apart of these dishes and you can see the pride in her eyes for what she and her husband have co-created.
Ceres is getting great reviews all over Chicagoland, and I was thrilled that my local friends were savvy enough to find this little gem. It’s nice to have foodies in every port!