(Continued from page 110)
sauce); semolina gnocchi; and coda alla
vaccinara, an oxtail stew.
Spiaggetta’s octopus isn’t grilled—a
method Tarantino associates with Greek
cooking. He simmers them whole for at
least two hours, cuts the tentacles into
gnocchi-sized pieces and serves them
chilled as the highlight of a salad of
farro, citrus-marinated olives and tomatoes. The tender pieces taste of lemon,
thyme and the sea, a perfect opener for a
Fritto misto brings together an unusual
combination of fried calamari, salmon and
artichoke hearts. Before frying, the squid
are coated with flour and cornmeal, the
salmon slices and artichoke hearts with
pastella, a mixture of flour, water, beer and
club soda that puffs up nicely in the fryer.
Tarantino’s 75-year-old mother-in-law,
Vincenza Casce, makes Spiaggetta’s ravioli,
gnocchi, fettuccine and pappardelle daily.
She fills her ravioli with shredded scallops
and shrimp. They’re served in a sauce of
puréed red peppers and mascarpone. You
eat them feeling like Roman royalty.
For all its regional specificity, Spiaggetta does not reject its American roots. A
menu section called Classics offers four
sentimental favorites: chicken parmigiana,
meatballs with cheese ravioli marinara,
rigatoni with sausage in Aurora (
tomato-cream) sauce, and fettuccine Alfredo. The
chicken parm, the cutlet hammered thin
and breaded, comes loaded with a marvelous marinara sauce. Even if you think
you’ve outgrown such red-sauce relics, it’s
Why does Tarantino offer these clas-
sics? Diners still crave them. “My job,” he
says, “is to make people as happy as pos-
sible and bring them back.”
Traditional desserts like cannoli and
tiramisu are made in-house, but they
aren’t Spiaggetta’s strong suit. As its name
suggests, it’s best when it makes you feel
you’re at the beach.—CHRIS MALLOY
NEW JERSEY MONTHLY August 2014 119
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