This past weekend I scored an invite to Gene and Julie Gate’s home where they said they were cooking up a few recipes that they will possibly offer at their new restaurant, Battuto Italian Kitchen which opens mid-February in the shopping center at Preston and Frankford. I broke that story back in September and you can read about that here.
When I arrived I met their opening chef, Gustavo Herrera, who was last seen working at The French Room in Dallas. Gustavo is a man of culinary talents who hails originally from Peru where he met his wife who is a professor at SMU. In the kitchen Gustavo was busily tossing a pounded chicken breast in a bath of porcini mushroom dust that would eventually be grilled and tossed into a special salad he has concocted. The salad also has grilled Asian pears and strawberries. Delicious.
As Gustavo is slicing and dicing in the corner of the home kitchen Gene offers up a bowl of pasta e fagiloi, which sings pretty well to my heart on a cold wintery afternoon. Gene is not happy with the pork jowl that has been used in the recipe and tells me that a local chef has turned him onto a good local source for the meat, and we wanted to smoke the pork for the dish. As they should the couple seem a bit hyper particular when it comes to the dishes they will offer in the new restaurant, and are going through painful hoops to ensure that each one meets with their exacting standards.
While all this cookery is going on I enjoy a few glasses of wine while Gene explains that the chef has actually moved into their home during the planning process. Julie gathers their daughter up and takes her to William-Sonoma for a few bottles of their favorite olive oil. This sparks an in-depth conversation about truffle oil, and I remark how I can smell the stuff from across the room. Truffle oil is typically a synthetic chemical-laced oil that is made to taste like the real thing, but often fails miserably. Gene smiles as he douses my slice of speck and quail egg pizza with droplets from a small bottle. Of course he has the real oil and not the least bit offensive.
More wine is poured and we bake another pizza, this time we use a cheese laced with flecks of black truffles. It is fantastic. There will actually be cheese boards created by Scardello at the new restaurant, and I hope this delightful cheese ends up somewhere on the menu.
Some of the dishes created at the Gate’s home will make a big board only to be whittled down and perfected for the opening day menu. If what I tasted Sunday is any indication of what is to come, you may want to make your reservations now.