Those looking to enjoy the authentic taste of the Piedmont region of Italy can stay right in Sussex County, as world-renowned Chef Carlo Zarri will be serving a truffle and hazelnut dinner at The Café on 26 this week.
“He comes with his suitcase of truffles from Italy. It's all his menu,” said Café on 26 owner Maria Fraser. “Our chefs will be assisting him. He brings his own sous chef with him.”
The dinner came about after one of the café's patrons had met Zarri when they were on vacation in Italy.
‘Then, when he did one of his tours in the United States, they went to a couple of his dinners,” said Fraser. “They mentioned him to me and said, ‘This would be the most perfect, cute place for him to come. Why don't you reach out to him, because he'll be on the East Coast, and see if he'd be interested in stopping at your restaurant?'
“It took a long time, because he plans the tour over a year in advance. We reached out to him, showed him pictures of the restaurant, and said he was more than welcome to stop in Delaware on his truffle dinner tour… He usually tours the big cities, so we're really lucky he chose to stop in our little town,” she said with a laugh.
The dinner and wine pairing will be held on Friday, Feb. 1. The event begins with a 6:30 p.m. reception, followed by a seated dinner at 7 p.m. The five-course menu costs $140 per person, which includes a wine pairing featuring wines from Piemonte Italy (gratuity not included). A credit card with a $50 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a seat. Fraser said last week that only a few seats are still available for the dinner.
“Everything is him. All we do is pair wines with the dinner. You don't have to do a wine pairing with the dinner, but we chose to pair with wines from his hometown,” said Fraser. “It is a truffle dinner. It's very exquisite, and his dinners are very elaborate. If you've never had truffles before it's a great opportunity to try it — especially with a world-renowned chef.”
According to his website, Zarri was born into the hospitality industry, with his family owning an award-winning boutique hotel, Villa San Carlo, in Cortemilia, Italy. He has most notably cooked for the Olympics, as well as for Sophia Loren and Georgio Armani.
Truffles — the fungi known as the “culinary diamond” — will be the stars of the dinner, and Fraser said the dinner will appeal to foodies of all kinds.
“A lot of our clients who travel worldwide have had them at fine, five-star restaurants. They're excited to have them again, and then, on the other hand, there are others who are excited to come and meet the chef and try truffles for the first time,” she said, adding, “Those who love wine-pairing dinners should be excited to come.”
Fraser said she herself has never had the opportunity to eat truffles and is beyond excited to be experiencing them through Zarri's culinary creations.
“I'm excited to try them. They have a very earthy taste because they dig them out of the ground. It's a different taste for your palate and something that is hard to come by. They're very expensive.”
Fraser said she hopes people will take advantage of having Zarri in their back yard, and experience his dinner.
“It's just a unique opportunity,” she said. “We really look forward to it. Our executive chef Jason Bostaph, is looking forward to cooking with him. We have a million questions to ask him and are excited to experience him in the kitchen!”
The Café on 26 is located at 84 Atlantic Avenue in Ocean View. To reserve a seat at the truffle and hazelnut dinner, call (302) 539-2233.
By Maria Counts