Two different names but one message in common: bring authenticity to the United States, and no modifications are allowed. Indeed, because if you want to call them ‘tortellini’, ‘gnocco fritto’ or ‘piadina’, just to name a few of the most popular dishes in Emilia Romagna, you have to make them the proper way.
“We strictly maintain our traditions, therefore if you can’t find a dish in Emilia Romagna, you won’t eat it at Via Emilia 9” explains chef Giancarlo “Wendy” Cacciatori. And he also adds, “Tortellini for instance, is not only about the shape, it’s also about the ‘ripieno’ (the filling) for which we use, among other ingredients, only Parmigiano Reggiano aged 24 months”.
Chef Wendy moved to Miami with his wife Valentina Imbrenda in 2013, coming from a family of restaurateurs in Italy. In 2014 he opened Via Emilia 9 in South Beach, in 2018 he opened Nonna Beppa in TriBeCa in New York, and just before the pandemic he opened a second restaurant in Miami, Via Emilia Garden; a sign that being authentic is rewarding even though the beginning was not so easy. Wendy explained that he found resistance from people who had no knowledge of the products he was offering, so he had to make them accustomed to a new taste. It took patience but at the end he won their palates over.
“Our mission is to spread emotions” he says, “letting your mind travel to those happy memories, where you forget that you’re in a restaurant in Miami, and feel at your Grandma’s Sunday lunch. In fact, all our pastas are homemade in the dining room by our Sfoglinas.” Historically, they have been mainly middle-aged women who roll and spread out the dough with a rolling pin on a pastry board, and here they daily prepare Ravioli, Gnocchi, Tagliatelle and other typical pastas of the Emilia Romagna region.
The leading dishes at all three restaurants are Tortellini, followed by the traditional Lasagna Bolognese, the homemade Piadina with Stracchino and Prosciutto di Parma, as well as the Gnocco Fritto, also known as Crescentina.