Friday, December 28, 2007

Monika's New Favorite Biscotti Recipe

Here is a recipe that was given to Monika from our favorite public relations gal, Dara Bunjon. Dara has been making this recipe for years and loves the fact that there is no butter. She uses parchment paper on the cooking sheet so no fat is used other than what is natural to the pistachio.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Recipe By : Gourmet Magazine 1992 pg 162
Serving Size : 36

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 1/3 cups Dried cranberries(approx 1/4 Lb)
2 1/2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 lg Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Shelled natural pistachio
Egg wash-beat 1 egg+1 ts water

In a bowl combine the cranberries with enough hot water to cover them and let them soak for 5 minutes. Drain the cranberries well and pat them dry with paper towels.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment blend the flour; the sugar, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt until the mixture is combined well, add the eggs and the vanilla, beating until a dough is just formed, and stir in the cranberries and the pistachios.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead it several times, and halve it. Working on a large buttered(you can eliminate the buttered pan by using parchment paper) and floured baking sheet, with floured hands form each piece of dough into a flattish log 13 inches long and 2 inches wide, arrange the logs at least 3 inches apart on the sheet and brush them with the egg wash.

Bake the logs in middle of preheated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes and let them cool on baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes. On cutting board cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal in 3/4 inch slices(use a serrated bread knife). Bake for 7 minutes on each side. Store in airtight container.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cooking Class at Sotto Sopra

Sunday, January 13, 2008
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Demonstration Class

Sotto Sopra's Chef Bill Crouse will lead a class in Sotto Sopra's kitchen where he will show the preparation of 4 recipes. After class, all will sit down to sample the food and have bit of wine. We are still planning the menu but wanted to give you a heads up. We are limited to 15 students.

Cost per student: $60.00 (check or credit card) - Payment is due prior to the class

Cancellation Policy: We will accept cancellations up to 48 hours prior to the cooking class. If you need to cancel less than 48 hours you will have a credit in the amount of the class to be used at the restaurant within 30 days.

Snow policy: Should phase one of the snow emergency plan be in effect in Baltimore City one hour prior to the class it will be canceled and rescheduled.

For further information please reach out to us via e-mail

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Voci di Napoli

What a great evening had by all last week. Naila regaled us with her songs of Napoli, we ate, drank and laughed. Here are some of the pictures:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Naila - Voci di Napoli Dinner

Voci di Napoli Dinner

Tuesday, October 16
6:30 pm

Maria Renata Liguori, known as Naila in Italy, will grace Sotto Sopra Restaurant to perform classic songs of Naples (Napoli) while she tours the United States. It will be an evening of Neapolitan music accompanied with a special dinner created and prepared by Sotto Sopra's executive chef, Bradley Buedel.

Naila was born in Naples and lives in Frattamaggiore (Naples). She began her artistic training in classical dance with modern jazz but decided to switch to vocal performances. Her award-winning performances include the Neapolitan classic "Passione" at the Francesco Durante festival and the Capasso and Casaburi piece "Velano" at the festival of Saint Vincent. In June of this year she sang at the Bourbon Royal palace (Reggia) in Caserta on the final day of the show "Terra d'Amore." Naila's music crosses all geographic and cultural frontiers. Naila will be accompanied by Maestro Bruno Fusco.

Voci di Napoli Dinner

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
6:30 p.m. promptly

(no substitutions)

Piccolo Assaggio

Arancino di Riso
Carnaroli Rice Ball
stuffed with fresh mozzarella, peas and deep fried
- finished with chopped fresh tomato


Calamaro Ripieno
Squid Stuffed with Bread Crumbs, Capers, Lemon and Garlic


Timballo di Melanzana
Eggplant Terrine
filled with rigatoni pasta, mozzarella, petite meatballs and tomato sauce


Sorbetto Limone e Basilico
Lemon and Basil Sorbet


Duetto con Carne di Vitello e Baccalà
Veal Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Golden Raisins and Swiss Chard
in a white wine sauce
Fresh Cod
with olives, capers and onions


Torta di Ricotta, Arancia e Cioccolata
Ricotta and Orange Tart
served with chocolate hazelnut sauce and vanilla gelato

Cost Per Person $55.00
(excludes beverages, liquor, tax and gratuity)

Reservations: Due to the special nature of our guest performer and limited space we are asking that all reservations be guaranteed by credit card.

For reservations contact Deborah Puopolo at 410-625-0534 or email her

Cancellation policy: You can cancel your reservation up to 48 hours
prior to the dinner with no penalty - any cancellations less than 48 hours before the dinner will be billed to your credit card.

405 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
410 625 0534

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dinner at Dara's

Being a chef, people are hesitant to cook for you. That can be a bad thing and that can be a good thing. Now that I have prefaced with that statement, I move forward with my story.

Dara Bunjon and I have been friends since we met when I started out here in Baltimore at Sotto Sopra. Dara organized cooking classes in restaurant kitchens throughout the city with her Epicurean Club of Maryland for 12 years. Over the years our paths had crossed on many occasions. When Dara left her corporate job as the public relations and marketing director of Vanns Spices to start her own business I was first in line. Her sense of food is impeccable and her humor runs parallel to mine. Now, that history lesson is done.

Dara has been insistent on having Monika and I over for dinner. It took a year to set the date. I was antsy about the dinner because what if it is bad? You know your hostess is looking for you for praise and looking to see if you were eating what was on your plate. You know they have worked hard. They don't have the staff you have in the restaurant, all the food prep, dining room set up, sommelier, dish washing, all on one person. No one to mise en place those shiitakes.

Dara thought it would be interesting to have the new Italian chef coming to Baltimore, Stefano Frigerio and his wife Dusty Lockhart to dinner as well. We are all the same age; Stefano was from Northern Italy like me. Stefano was the executive sous chef at Maestro restaurant in N. Virginia and spent a number of years working in England. He even did a stint with Marco Pierre White and lived to talk about it. His restaurant, Osteria Cinghiale should be opening sometime in September/October in the East Harbor.

My PR princess was wise and went with a Southern themed dinner. We gathered for hors d'oeuvres in her ...hmmm, she calls it a den. She had pickled shrimp and bourbon spiced pecans-that broke the ice, some wine and we all relaxed.

So conversation around the table was very good and it was all in English. Our salad was a watermelon salad with tomatillos with honey citrus vinaigrette. It was quite tasty and refreshing.

The main course was the juiciest pork I've ever eaten. It was a rack of pork loin that Dara brined in sweetened tea for 48 hours. Monika says it was the best pork she's ever eaten. Dara served oven roasted potatoes and haricot verts with shiitakes and morels.

For dessert she poached pears and made a Melba sauce. She did say she didn't make the ice you think I should hold that against her?

After I got back to the restaurant I called her and told her I was pleasantly surprised and how I enjoyed the dinner. I think a couple days later I offered her a job in my kitchen.

For those of you who would like the watermelon salad recipe and sweetened tea brined pork recipe you will have an opportunity the end of October when her compilation cookbook she co-authored with Jeff Spear comes to market. The book is called YUM-Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats - recipes from top chefs and cooking instructors from Charlie Trotter to Sara Moulton, Nick Malgieri to Steven Raichlen, Sherry Yard to Elizabeth Faulkner, Rick Bayless to Michel Richard and last but not least Chef Scott Peacock's Watermelon Salad and Chef John Fleer's Sweetened Tea Brined Rack of Pork.

Feel free to check out her blog and sign up for her foodie e-newsletter.

Let me close with the most important thing about this dinner or any dinner - to share food, thoughts and ideas, to smile and break bread with others is what food is all about. It always tastes better with good company.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sizzling Hot August Opera Night

Sunday, August 26, 2007
A night of Live Opera featuring

Ms. Kathleen Stapleton, Soprano
Mr. Paul McIlvaine, Tenor
Tom Hetrick, Piano


Radicchio with Smoked Mozzarella, Balsamic Vinegar and Prosciutto

Eastern Shore Melon Soup

Risotto with Prawns and Fava Beans
with herb broth

Tomato Sorbetto

Braised Short Ribs
with cannellini beans and broccoli rabe

Fresh Fruit Torte
with zabaione crème fresh

Enjoy Live Opera & 6 courses of exceptional Italian cuisine
Only $55 per person
(Excludes liquor, beverages, tax, & gratuity)

FOR RESERVATIONS & INFORMATION PLEASE CALL (410) 625-0534 or email Deborah at:

Upcoming Opera Night Dates: September 23rd and October 28th

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Baltimore Restaurant Week- July 30th - August 5th

Baltimore Restaurant Week was such a big hit last year, they're bringing it back this year. And making it even bigger. Now you have seven days — including the weekend — to enjoy a three-course dinner for just $30.07 and a three-course lunch for $20.07.

Mark July 30th through August 5th on your calendar. It's the most delicious week of the summer!

Sotto Sopra is participating all week long for both lunch and dinner. We have been getting calls that some have been having difficulty with to book reservations for lunch, if you incur that problem, call us directly 410 625 0534. We are definitely doing 3 course lunch and 3 course dinner.

Prix Fixe $30.07 Dinner
(choice of 1 from each category)

Dinner Appetizer
Zuppa di Giorno - Soup of the Day

Caesar Salad
Proscuitto di Parma
Imported Proscuitto from Parma with fresh mozzarella cheese in a parmesan basket

Mozzarella alla Caprese
Sliced fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes with basil-arugula coulis, tomato emulsion

Frittura di Calamaretti
Fried calamari served with light spicy tomato-cilantro sauce and wasabi sour cream

Dinner Entrée

Risotto di Giorno
House prepared risotto of the day

Ravoli dell'Amore
House made spinach and ricotta ravioli sautéed in butter and sage with pesto, sun- dried tomato cream sauce

Tortelli di'Anatra
House made duck-stuffed tortelli sautéed with butter and sage, served in a
truffle veal reduction sauce

Agnolotti di Vitello
House made veal stuffed pasta served with applewood smoked
bacon, sautéed spinach and veal reduction

Grilled Halibut
With a fresh citrus sauce served with horseradish mashed potatoes and vegetable of the day

Messicani di Vitello alle Olive
Rolled veal stuffed with spinach, Fontina and Kalamata olive paste served with sweet potato cake and olivata sauce

Dinner Dessert


Profiteroles Ricoperti dipped in Chocolate

Pistachio Créme Brulee

Vanilla Créme Brulee

Prix Fixe $20.07 Lunch
(choice of one from each category)

Lunch Appetizer

Soup of the Day

Caesar Salad

Mesclun Salad - Mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette

Lunch Entrée

Chicken "Sotto Sopra"
Grilled chicken breast topped with fresh tomatoes, asparagus, proscuitto and aged provolone cheese served with tomato Provencal

Grilled Halibut
With a fresh citrus sauce served with horseradish mashed potatoes and vegetable of the day

Crespelle di Ricotta e Spinaci
Housemade crepes stuffed with ricotta and spinach, baked with béchamel and fresh tomato sauce

Risotto di Giorno
House prepared risotto of the day

Lunch Dessert


Fresh Mixed Fruit
with vanilla bean gelato

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Grilled Peaches with Arugula, Prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano

Okay, so I'm not cut out to be an Iron Chef but I thought you would like this cooking video-the recipe is simple and perfect for summer. If you can get white peaches they are sweeter than the yellow and a bit larger. You can do this outdoors or on a stove top grill. Just section the peach, sear it and the put it on a plate with Prosciutto di Parma, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese topped with baby arugula or roll up the arugula in the prosciutto, top with the cheese surrounded by peaches. Make a quick dressing with some quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

My public relations lady was playing with her little Kodak digital and was able to do this video, she needs practice. The photograph is her version of the salad.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

One Good Thing Leads to Another

One Good Thing Leads To Another

I've talked of my three-week honeymoon in Italy and all of the exciting places where Monika and I dined. Osteria del Coro in Siena, Italy was the stand-out meal. The food was so good, you could taste the chef’s passion for his local cuisine. I swore then that I would bring the executive chef, Stefano Azzi, to the U.S. to cook a special dinner at Sotto Sopra. This dream was realized this spring when Chef Azzi prepared two sold-out Sienese dinners for our Sotto Sopra clientele as well as the Italian Consul from Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic States.

True Italian cuisine is wonderful. At its core, it embraces fresh, quality and local ingredients – a philosophy I share. Before Chef Azzi returned to Italy, I wanted to help him spread the good word on Tuscan products. We had two impressive meetings in New York City. Our first was with the CEO of, Antoinette Bruno (a former Baltimore native). The second was with Iron Chef, Mario Batali at Otto, one of his many restaurants. I was surprised to learn that Chef Batali has 1,400 employees. 1,400 – that’s huge! Mario said he is looking forward to going to Chef Azzi’s restaurant in Siena this summer and will keep Sotto Sopra on his radar should he be in the Baltimore area. It was a great meeting.

Stay Informed

Subscribers to Sotto Sopra’s e-mail news received the special invitation to Chef Azzi’s dinner. It was not advertised. You too can receive all the up-to-the-moment, exclusive, customer appreciation special events notices as well as bonus birthday and anniversary rewards. Subscribing is easy and free, just fill in your e-mail in the box here on the blog. We don’t want you to miss out.

It Is All About Passion

When you dine at Sotto Sopra I want you to taste my passion for Italian cuisine in every bite, just as I did with Chef Azzi’s meal in Italy.

Buon Appetito!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tuscan Chef Dinner Extended to Tuesday, May 8th

Because of the HUGE response to the Chef Stefano Azzi's dinner at Sotto Sopra on May 9th we have added a 2nd evening.

The times are different with the reception starting at 6:30 p.m. and running to 7:00 p.m. when we will start our dinner. It will be communal seating to add to the festive nature of this event. The menu and all else remain the same. Just check out the website on special events or scroll down on the blog to the Tuscan Chef is Coming event listing.

Questions? Call Deborah Puopolo at 410.625.0534 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Monday through Friday. Guaranteed reservations are required and there is a 48 hour cancellation policy.

We hope you can join us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You Missed a Great Party

If you didn't make Sotto Sopra's 11th Anniversary Party you really missed a great party. I ended up serving many salads, prosciutto and melon, 1/2 lobsters for everyone, lamb chops, braised lamb, langostinos, the two risottos, and enough wine to take down a giant.

We all had some prosecco and mingled and headed to the communal tables to dine. Monika and I used some great candle holders to decorate the tables. As you can see from the photos below there were many antipasti on the table awaiting the guests. As it became dark the restaurant had a nice glow from the candlelight, everyone was convivial passing platters and chatting. Dinner started at 7 p.m. and the dessert platters were put on the table around 10:15 p.m.

Many stayed and continued the party. Wish you had been there. Don't miss our next special event when Chef Stefano Azzi visits from Siena Italy to prepare a true Tuscan feast on Wednesday, May 9th.

I'm so full from last night's party even my fingers hurt typing.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Taste of Tuscany Dinner

A Taste of Tuscany-A Gastronomic Event
prepared by
Chef Stefano Azzi of Osteria Del Coro in Siena, Italy

Wednesday, May 9th
Sotto Sopra Restaurant, 405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Award-winning Chef Azzi will be in the kitchen preparing a true
Tuscan dinner, using age-old Sienese recipes. A recent recipient of Fodor’s Star award, you will find Osteria Del Coro involved in all things culinary in Siena, Italy from the Presidio Slow Food to Girogustando.

Executive chef and proprietor of Sotto Sopra, Riccardo Bosio was so impressed with Azzi’s cuisine when he dined there last summer he dreamed of bring him to the U.S. The dream has come true with Bosio underwriting Azzi’s travel along with the collaboration of the Italian Cultural Center of Maryland and patronage of the Italian Consulate of Baltimore. Chef Azzi will be in Baltimore at Sotto Sopra Restaurant for a limited visit and gastronomic gathering. Bosio is expecting a large turn out from the Italian community both here and Washington.

5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Butlered Antipasti

Crostini di Pane con Pate’ di Fegatini di Pollo al Vin Santo
little toasts topped with chicken liver pate cooked in Vin Santo wine

Crostini di Pane con Fagiano Brasato e Vin Santo
little toasts topped with wine-braised pheasant

Crostini di Pane con Pere al Chianti e Pecorino Fresco
little toasts topped with pears cooked in Chianti wine
and topped with fresh pecorino cheese

Communal Seating
6:30 p.m.

Antipasti Pesce Duetto

Insalata Tiepida di Polipo e Patate Novelle all’’Olio Terre di Siena *DOP 2006
octopus salad with new potatoes and *DOP Terre di Siena Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Calamari alla Vernaccia di San Gimignano con Olive Nere
Toscane e Rosmarino
squid sautéed in Vernaccia wine with Tuscan black olives and rosemary


vegetable soup with cannellini beans, bread, Parmesan cheese and drizzled
with Terre di Siena Extra Virgin Olive Oil *DOP

Primi Duetto

Mezzelune di Patate, Pecorino Fresco e Gamberoni con
Crema di Fagioli Cannelleni e Zafferano di San Gimignanao *DOP
half-moon shaped pasta stuffed with potato, cheese and shrimp
with a sauce of pureed cannellini beans and San Gimignano *DOP saffron

Tagliatelle di Farina di Farro con Ragu’ di Carni Bianche (Pollo e Coniglio) con Zafferano di San Gimignano *DOP e Piccole Verdure
pasta made with spelt flour topped with a sauce of white meats
(chicken and rabbit) and San Gimignano saffron *DOP and accompanied with green vegetables

* DOP - 'Denominazione d'Origine Protetta': The mark is guaranteed by the European Union and was created to promote the authenticity and artisan characteristics of certain food and agricultural products.


Stracotto di Manzo alla Chiantigiana
braised beef Chianti style


Semifreddo con Cantucci Toscani
semi-frozen custard and cookies

~ All dishes will be paired with fine Tuscan Wines ~

Cost per person $125.00 –all inclusive
(includes food, wine, tax, gratuity, and valet parking)

Guaranteed Reservations Required

Cancellation Policy: Reservations cancelled less than 48 hours prior to the event and no shows will be billed.

A Taste of Tuscany with Chef Stefano Azzi


Call Deb Puopolo from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. ~ Monday through Friday at 410-625-0534.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sotto Sopra's 11th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

11th Anniversary Family-Style Dinner

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
7:00 PM


Assorted Cheeses
Assorted Olives
Octopus Salad
Panzanella Salad
Caesar Salad
Pickled Sardines
Vitello Tonnato

Seafood Risotto
Porcini Risotto

Assorted Grilled Meats
Braised Veal
Roasted Potatoes

Fresh Fruit
Cookies and other assorted sweets

Selection of apropos wines and assorted beverages

$80.00-all inclusive
(includes food, wine, tax, gratuity, and valet parking)

Family-Style Platter Service ~ Communal Seating

Sotto Sopra Anniversary Dinner
401 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Attn: Monika

This will be a fun evening....don't miss out!

LIMITED SEATING-Only 100 seats
For further information e-mail
no substitution on the menu items
Payment is non-refundable - no cancellations

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

From Will Smith to Riccardo Bosio


After meeting Executive Pastry Chef Joanne Gregory at the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Conference in Atlanta, Sotto Sopra’s public relations and marketing representative, Dara Bunjon knew that Gregory and I should meet. Gregory, selected as one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in Los Angeles, recently left her job as the Executive Pastry Chef at Universal Studios as her husband’s job brought them to Baltimore.

As the executive pastry chef at Universal, Gregory created the studio’s high quality, high volume, and all-scratch bakery: a 2000 square foot state-of-the-art production bakery. She supplied cakes, pastries, cookies, petit fours, miniature desserts, pies, tarts, breakfast items and custom cakes to 20 casual restaurants, 2 catering operations, a retail bakery and 5-star, fine dining restaurant for studio executives and celebrity guests.

I asked Joanne to name three memorable events she was involved with at Universal. The top of her list was the opening of Jurassic Park, the theme ride as well as the movie. “When the Grinch came out at Xmas, we created a Grinch village six feet by five feet out of pastillage and royal icing” stated Chef Gregory.

“Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were celebrating their dual birthdays so they leased out a sound stage. The theme was Will as Superman and Jada as Superwoman. I worked with Universal Studios animators to draw the Smiths. I created a 6 foot by 5 foot Gotham City, which we lit. Then the 2 feet tall Will and Jada figures were added, standing mighty, overlooking Gotham." quipped Joanne.

So what is Joanne Gregory doing at Sotto Sopra? Chef Gregory has been working as a consultant, recreating the desserts I remember so well from Italy, even our cookies. From the start of your meal to the sweet finish, I want it to be memorable.

La Dolce Vita


Monday, January 22, 2007

Super Bowl Antipasto

Baked Stuffed Artichoke Hearts
Chef David Ritzo

Tomato Confit:
1 small container fresh grape or cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons white wine

2 ounces pancetta -- diced
2 - 14 ounce cans artichoke bottoms
kosher or sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

For the Tomato Confit: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, fresh thyme and white wine. Spread the contents of the bowl on a sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. Reduce the oven to 350 degree.

While the tomatoes roast saute the pancetta until crisp and drain on a paper towel.

Drain the artichoke bottoms from the liquid in the cans and rinse. Pat dry and place artichokes on a sheet pan. Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the artichokes. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, minced garlic and fresh basil over the artichoke hearts. Put a small amount of the grated Parmesan cheese on top of each heart.

To complete the assembly add tomato confit and pancetta to each artichoke heart. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: "10 artichoke hearts"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Serving Ideas : The tomato confit can be also be used on top of toasted bread

NOTES : Canned artichoke hearts can be found in your gourmet
supermarkets in the Italian section or in the aisle with
your jarred artichokes. Trader Joe's has a 2 ounce
package of diced pancetta in their refrigerated counter.

For easy clean-up: Line your baking sheets with parchment
paper or use a silpat.

The confit and pancetta can be done a day ahead to make
assembly quick and easy