I am originally from New York City. I met my wife, Martha, who was visiting my church in Manhattan, NY in 1998. She went to the single’s fellowship after the worship service one Sunday and sat next to me. We struck up a conversation, and we found we had a lot in common. I invited her out for a date the following week. We went to Foccacia’s, my favorite Italian restaurant in New York. We both ordered the “Fresca de Campagna.” Afterwards, we went to the movies. We married in 2000, and afterwards enjoyed eating often at Foccacia’s. It was our restaurant, and Fresca de Campagna our dish.
Even after we moved to Pittsburgh in 2004, we would return every year to New York City to go on a date to Foccacia’s and eat “Fresca de Campagna.” Sadly, in 2010, we went back to New York and found our favorite restaurant had closed down. We both cried outside the new crass bagel shop in its place.
About a month after we returned to Pittsburgh, Martha surprised me one night with a dish that looked like our favorite dish. With tears welling up in my eyes, I asked “Is that Fresca de Campagna?” She said, smiling ear to ear, “It is!” Oh, Divine! It tasted just like the restaurants, but somehow better. It is now our family’s favorite dish, and, if it were up to my 9 y.o. daughter, we would eat it every day.
1 Box of Penne Pasta
1 pint (or more) grape tomatoes ( diced Roma’s work well too)
1 log Fresh Mozzarella
Chopped fresh or dried basil
White wine (cooking or drinking)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
Cook pasta, al dente, according to directions on box (add salt to taste).
Dice tomatoes (or cut grape tomatoes in half). Put tomatoes into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add chopped fresh basil or dried basil. Stir tomatoes and let sit while cutting fresh mozzarella (this marinates the tomatoes for greater flavor). Dice the fresh mozzarella and set aside.
In a large pan, add olive oil and sauté garlic until brown. Add white wine and butter to make a sauce. Cook down the wine for 2-3 minutes. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir around. (I add butter and white wine according to liking). Once the pasta is coated, add the tomatoes and cook until warm through. Turn heat down and add mozzarella, stir, turn off heat, stir and serve (you want to turn the heat down so the mozzarella doesn’t all melt…it’s better in little chunks!)
(c) Paul Dordal, 2016