AFTER LIVING IN Northern Italy for a brief period of my life, I often long for the region’s rich and flavorful cuisine. Creamy sauces, savory meats and cow’s milk cheese are staples of Italy’s North, made from livestock that graze the mountainous terrain.
Earlier this winter, when the weather was cold and cravings were high, I headed to Insatiable Eats Creative Kitchen for a warm and hearty pasta dish. Run by Sicilian native and restaurateur Marco Barrila, this downtown Riverhead eatery is a must for authentic Italian cuisine on the North Fork, offering a wide selection of dishes from across Italy.
After some contemplation, I decided on the Gorgonzola gnocchi. In this dish, soft, pillowy gnocchi are served in a decadent cream sauce made from imported Gorgonzola dolce, shallots and pecans.
Unlike the crumbly Gorgonzola that you’re likely to find at the supermarket, Gorgonzola dolce is slightly sweeter and milder. Mixed with cream, the subtle flavors of this blue cheese and Barrila’s gnocchi are a heavenly match. Each gnocco is freshly made in-house and by hand. These potato dumplings originate from Northern Italy, where the weather is better suited for growing potatoes than grain. While there are several ways to make gnocchi, Barilla’s recipe is simple and traditional. He uses potatoes as well as eggs, salt, black pepper, flour and a pinch of nutmeg — just like his grandmother used to make.
Gnocchi enthusiasts can attest that loving these potato dumplings comes with great risk; they can be massive gut bombs when prepared incorrectly. Luckily, Barrila prepares gnocchi as they were intended to be. They’re light and airy and melt in your mouth.
The dish itself is hearty, but not overwhelmingly heavy. Paired with a glass of red wine, it’s the perfect comfort meal on a cold winter day.
Looking to try this dish? Insatiable Eats Creative Kitchen is located at 300 East Main St. in Riverhead. Call 631-377-3353 or visit insatiableeats.com for more information