Published: Wed, April 11, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.
By Ross Morrone
- CAFE CIMMENTO
- Orecchiette con Salsiccia: $14;
- Tuscan salad: $2
- Owner: George Mager
- Head chef: Jon Mager
- Address: 120 E. Boardman St., Youngstown, OH 44503
- Phone: 330-740-0466
- Hours: Monday - Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Online: www.cafecimmento.com
This week I headed out in search of a unique Italian signature dish — one with flavors comparable to what I would find on the table at my grandmother’s house.
I grew up eating foods that were homemade, fresh and always grown in the back yard. To achieve those flavors, a restaurant would need a chef dedicated to local, fresh ingredients.
I walked through the doors of Cafe Cimmento in downtown Youngstown hoping to find that fresh-ingredient mindset. After a quick scan of the menu I was pleased to see several dishes that offered traditional Italian flavors.
The Orecchiette con Salsiccia was the pasta dish I could not pass up. It is made with orecchiette pasta, coarse ground sausage from De Pizzo Sausage Co. in Liberty, and saut ed escarole and cannolini beans, all covered in a light garlic cream sauce.
First came the Tuscan side salad I had to add on. It is composed of bruschetta tomatoes, romaine lettuce, homemade fresh mozzarella and kalamata olives, all tossed in light vinaigrette dressing. The ingredient paring removes any doubt that head chef Jon Mager’s drive to use local, fresh ingredients is what allows his food its unique taste.
For instance, a fresh bun from Hogan’s Baking Co. in Columbiana was the perfect match to the Tuscan salad. It was crunchy and buttery outside, yet airy and soft inside.
A simple decision like that made me drop my fork and use the bread as the utensil.
Then came the main dish. I sized up this large portion, and with the first taste I immediately noticed the amazing bite down. Bite down is what you feel and hear in your mouth when you sink your teeth into food.
It was a cadence composed of soft textured bean and orecchiette, a crunch of greens and a snap from the sausage. The flavor from the garlic, red pepper, fennel and pork — interrupted by the earthiness and the blend of warm cheeses — left my tongue and mind digging through these flavors and begging for more.
I was satisfied and stuffed with leftovers.
When it comes to Italian food, this area has more restaurants per capita than Italy. If you are searching for an authentic, old-world dish, make sure you add Cafe Cimmento to your list of stops and try this signature dish ... but do not forget about that salad!