What is Ferragosto? It is an Italian holiday celebrated on August 15th (Monday!). Friends and families come together, attend festivals, enjoy good food, and watch fireworks. It is the Italians' way of celebrating summer. Although it's huge in Italy, virtually nobody in the U.S. has ever heard of this holiday.
I learned about this holiday at a media lunch this past week at Prezza, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the North End. Prezza is partnering with winemaker Barone Fini this week (August 11th - 18th) to celebrate Ferragosto by offering a summer-focused 4-course tasting menu for $55. Wine will be $10/glass, and all proceeds from wine sales will be donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank.
At the media tasting, we had a chance to meet Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini, a 15th generation owner of the winery (yes, they have been going strong since 1497!). He explained to us how the winery intervenes as little as possible in the winemaking process, allowing the terroir of the land to shine through. They only use old vines (natually low-yielding), and all grapes are picked by hand. The winery just makes two wines (150,000 cases a year): a Pinot Grigio and a Merlot.
And then we had a chance to taste the special Ferragosto menu!
We started with an appetizer of prosciutto topped with fresh watermelon, mint, and ricotta salatta. I loved freshness from the mint and the watermelon, which balanced out the salty prosciutto perfectly.
Our next course was a refreshing salad of cucumber, sweet pepper, tomatoes, olives, and anchovies. It was light, refreshing, and paired well with the light Pinot Grigio.
There are two options for main courses. This pasta is a summer classic and one of my favorites from Prezza, a sweet corn raviolini served with rock shrimp, pancetta, white wine, and butter. It was delicious! [Note, the above photo shows an appetizer-sized portion. If you ordered this as the main course of the tasting, you would get a larger portion]
The other option is a delicious pork chop served with a potato leek tart. You can't go wrong with either choice, they were both excellent! [Note, I ate the pork chop and potato leek tart later on home, so that's why the presentation looks a bit different compared to if it were served at the restaurant!]
Finally, dessert is a chocolate covered coconut macaroon (not pictured).
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This tasting menu will be available for one week: August 11th - August 18th (Thursday to Thursday). If you want to celebrate Ferragosto here in Boston, consider having dinner at Prezza. The food and wine are delicious and the wine proceeds are going towards a good cause!
Thinking about Italy really makes me miss that beautiful place. Hoping I can return soon!
Disclaimer: I did not pay for this meal at Prezza. All opinions are my own.