Walking into this restaurant is much like walking into a kitchen. If you visit the lower level, you can watch by windows through which you can see the pasta and bread being made. On the first floor, you are able to see the brick oven in which many of the dishes are baked. With the smell of garlic, tomatoes, and freshly baked bread, it smells like you’re right at home.
I was able to speak with Tuscan Kitchen’s owner, Joe Faro, and chef/partner, Jim Rogers, to learn more about this amazing restaurant.
TT: With all breads and pastas made fresh, is this a daily job? Approximately how many loaves of bread and how much pasta do you make weekly?
JF: This is a daily job… Our team of bakers and pasta makers start everyday at 6 a.m. We make over 2,000 loaves of bread a week and almost 1,000 pounds of pasta
TT: With a focus on Italian cuisine, do you import many of your ingredients? Do you source any locally?
JF: Many of our items are imported from Italy. Truffles, parmigiano reggiano, first press Sicilian olive oil, san marzano tomatoes, prosciutto di Parma, fontina, 00 flour, aged balsamic vinegar from Modena. . . Local ingredients are sourced, such as burratta from a local dairy; fresh herbs and certain produce items from local farmers; and finally local honey from a young lady who produces it very close to the restaurant (she is 13 years old…..great story)
TT: What inspired you to open a restaurant with such a focus on details in New Hampshire?
JF: My family and I live in New Hampshire. . . In order to find food of this magnitude you would have to go to NYC or Italy. I knew that once people experienced the simplicity and the quality, it would be a hit. This type of artisan culinary experience in New Hampshire requires some culinary education, but once you are educated, you’re hooked!
TT: With Joe’s Sicilian heritage, do any of the recipes come from his family?
JF: Many of the recipes come directly from my family’s Sicilian heritage. The bread, the meatballs, Sunday sauce, wood roasted peppers, arancini, fusilli, tuna dish, caponata, salumi/formaggi all have influence from my family back in Sicily, as well as the culinary culture that we grew up in.
One example would be the Sunday sauce with handmade fusilli that we serve on our Sunday Pranzo menu. My grandmother would literally take 8 hours to make this sauce and roll long fusilli by hand while she was waiting for the meat to braise in the sauce. The flavors were so incredible that you had to dip some bread in the pot every time you went through the kitchen.
My grandfather had a wood grill instead of a fireplace in the basement and we roasted EVERYTHING. . .eggplant, peppers, mushroom, onion.
TT: For Jim, having worked in both French and Italian restaurants, what are the benefits to preparing Italian cuisine?
JR: The benefits of Italian Cuisine are that the cuisine features simple fresh ingredients that have been made with time honored techniques and when you pair them properly they explode together. Also, the history and how the people of Italy feel about food make it very special to me.
TT: What would be the ideal menu to provide the ultimate Tuscan Kitchen experience for a diner?
JF: The ideal menu at TK is one that allows you to eat as Italians do. Tasting many courses and many different flavors, taking your time and savoring the entire experience with different wines. Sequence is huge in Italian cuisine.
Salumi and formaggi first
Hot and cold antipasti next or at the same time
Artisan fresh pasta sampling next
Sampling different entrées after that
A little dolci sampler to finish
Wine goes lighter to heavier as the courses roll out
Prosecco to start, super tuscan or Barolo to finish with the entrées