As the temperature drops, people tend to look towards comfort foods when deciding what to cook. For executive chef of ARMANI / RISTORANTE, Carmine Amarante, comfort food means traditional Italian cuisine. At only 31 years old, Amarante, originally from Naples, became the youngest ever executive chef of ARMANI / RISTORANTE last year. When designing the “TRADIZIONE” course of his new autumn menu, Amarante says that he wanted to combine flavors, memories and moments from his childhood with elaborate cooking techniques and seasonal Japanese ingredients.
Elaborate techniques and seasonal flavors are on display from the first dish with the seemingly gravity-defying pureed pumpkin amuse-bouche set in a bouillon gélatine and nestled within a thin pastry shell, surrounded by roasted pumpkin seeds. Accompanying the delicate pumpkin bonbon and Armani-branded tart is a rich, seasonal black truffle brioche topped with wagyu bresaola which has been cured by Amarante for the past six months.
Japanese flavors are introduced in the next dish with Hokkaido scallops resting on a bed of bagna càuda, spinach and burrata. Black truffle is once again featured, with three large shavings almost melting as the waiter delicately pours a rich truffle and prosciutto-based sauce around the inner edges of the plate. Apparently not one to make things easy for himself, Amarante specially designed the crockery according to the menu this season. Handmade by Kamachi Pottery in Saga-ken, the traditional arita porcelain is all perfectly shaped and contoured to house and accentuate each meticulously crafted dish.
The tortello alla norma is a personal favorite of our waiter, Julien Defresne, who explains that the fresh, handmade pasta is generously filled with pureed eggplant, brunoise dried tomato and creamy ricotta cheese, offset by a sharp basil pesto. Amarante selected this dish as a tribute to home cooked meals in Naples with the tomato, cheese and pesto representing the colors of his country’s flag.
The main course is a 10-hour-marinated beef cheek which Julien confidently assures won’t require a knife. As promised, the beef cheek, surrounded by seasonal mushrooms and topped with a smoked potato espuma, is buttery soft and a fork more than handles the task. Adding a counterpoint to the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the dish is a thin layer of crispy dried and fried mochi mugi tucked within the beef cheek
The dessert portion of the course includes a traditional orange and pistachio cannolo, which is soaked in a sweet wine marsala and filled at the table by Defresne with ricotta cheese and our choice of chocolate and hazelnuts or the more traditional orange and pistachio. The star of the dessert course, though, is the Napoli style baba, which Amarante explains is made according to a recipe he inherited from his grandfather. The light and fluffy Napoli style baba is soaked for 20 minutes in a syrup made from water, sugar, cinnamon, lemon and orange and served with a vanilla Chantilly cream and then drizzled with a choice of either 20 year aged rum or limoncello.
Chef Amarante’s “TRADIZIONE” course proves his love for the traditional comfort food he grew up with at home and his respect for modern cooking techniques and Japanese flavors and ingredients. When asked how he selected the dishes on the current menu, Amante explains – “I choose all the ingredients to respect the seasonality of the products, and after that we study memories, flavors, Japanese culture.”
The “TRADIZIONE” course is available at ARMANI / RISTORANTE Ginza until mid-December.
ARMANI / RISTORANTE Ginza
10F, 5-5-4 Armani Ginza Tower, Ginza, Chuo-ku