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Houston-area Italian restaurants join global earthquake relief fundraiser

Italian restaurants join global earthquake relief fundraiser

Tony Vallone all’Amatriciana
Tony Vallone uses housemade angel hair pasta in his all’Amatriciana. Courtesy photo

Last month, a massive 6.2 magnitude earthquake devastated a number of towns located in the mountains approximately 85 miles east of Rome including Amatrice. Restaurants all over the world have responded by donating proceeds from their version of the town's signature dish, pasta all’Amatriciana, to earthquake relief efforts.  

The dishes basic structure — typically a combination of tomatoes, Pecorino Romano cheese, and guanciale (smoked pig's jowl) — allows for creative interpretations. While bucatini pasta is the most traditional, subbing in other shapes allows for different textural components. Also, bucatini's long tubes can make for messy eating. 

"Amatrice is one of my favorite places to visit," restaurateur Tony Vallone said in a statement. "It’s famous for its black truffles and its salumi. It’s also one of the most beautiful places in Italy. It breaks my heart to know that it was destroyed in the earthquake.”

All three of his restaurants, casual Ciao Bello, steakhouse Vallone's, and fine dining restaurant Tony's, will donate $2 to Red Cross Italy from each plate sold in September. Vallone's version of the dish uses housemade angel hair pasta along with guanciale and Pecorino. 

Two inner loop restaurants are serving the classic version with bucatini. At Paulie's, the dish ($10 small/$17 full) comes with smoked bacon and enough red chili flakes to cause diners to sweat from its spicy kick. Although doing so offends purists, diners can cut the heat slightly by adding some of the restaurant's buttery shrimp to their order ($4 or $6). The casual, neighborhood restaurant will donate $1 from every plate sold to Red Cross Italy "until further notice," owner Paul Petronella wrote on Instagram.  

At Giacomo's cibo e vino in River Oaks, chef-owner Lynette Hawkins has added buccatini all'Amatriciana ($17 or $20 with shrimp) as a month-long special and will donate $5 from every plate sold to earthquake relief efforts. Her version uses all-natural guanciale from Niman Ranch for a salty punch. 

Also in Montrose, Divino chef-owner Patrick McCray is serving a milder, more classic all'Amatricana made with rigatoni ($20, $5 donation), but the restaurant will vary its pasta shape over the month of September. Ask sommelier Thomas Moesse to suggest a pairing from one of the city's strongest all-Italian wine lists.

Those who prefer pizza instead of pasta can still contribute to relief efforts. Arcodoro chef-owner Efisio Farris has created a Pizza Incanto (salami, porcini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, split peas, pecorino) and will donate $5 from every $19 pizza sold during September to Red Cross Italy.

Know any other Italian restaurants donating to earthquake relief? Post them in the comments.

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