Italian First Courses (Primi)
Browse our menu of delicious Italian first courses, which mostly consist of non-meat dishes. Our primo (plural primi) selection includes the following dishes, but note that due to availability of fresh produce, every dish listed here may not be available on the day of your visit.
Cannelloni di Spinaci
Fresh pasta tubes filled with spinach, ricotta & parmesan, baked with béchamel and a napoli sauce.
Origin: Roman menus feature spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all’amatriciana, as well as tubes of rigatoni and penne. Fresh pasta may be flat as lasagne, rolled as cannelloni or cut in strips as the celebrated fettuccine al burro.
Bolognese baked meat lasagna with parmesan.
Origin: Macerata (a city in the Marches region) is the home of vincisgrassi, a legendary lasagne crowned—in season—with white truffles, which flourish in the Marches as nowhere else outside of Piedmont.
Tagliolini ai Funghi e Tartufo
Fresh thin pasta tossed with wild mushrooms, fresh rocket & a touch of truffle oil, topped with parmesan (omitted for vegans).
Origin: Among Europe’s 30 species of truffles, the most vaunted are the white (or beige to ocher) Tuber magnatum found mainly in Italy. The hills of Piedmont produce the splendidly scented tartufi d’Alba, sniffed out by dogs and dug up by trifolau, who sell them by the gram as one of the world’s most expensive foods.
Fusilli ai Broccoli
Spiral pasta with fresh broccoli & olive oil, tossed with a touch of chilli, garlic, parsley, anchovies (omitted for vegetarians) and parmesan (omitted for vegans).
Origin: Campanians have been known as mangiafoglie (leaf eaters) because greens and vegetables so dominated the diet, and it is likely that this dish originated in the Campania region.
Prawns tossed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, chilli, parsley, lemon and diced fresh tomato.
Origin: A speciality of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, an attractively secluded region where the Alps almost touch the Adriatic.
Thin pasta tossed in a seafood sauce of tomato, mussels, prawns and calamari with a touch of chili and garlic.
Origin: A speciality of the Latium province, of which Rome is the capital.
Farfalle Prosciutto e Piselli
Fresh bowtie pasta tossed with ham, mushroom, cream, peas & topped with parmesan.
Origin: Each province of Italy has its own salumi—cured meats, usually from pork but also from other animals, in the forms of prosciutto, salame, sausages, mortadella, bresaola and more. This dish is popular throughout Italy.
Fresh ribbon pasta with a minced veal Bolognese sauce, topped with grated parmesan.
Origin: The people of Basilicata, a sparsely populated region in southern Italy, share with their southern neighbours a taste for pasta and vegetables, mountain cheeses, lamb, mutton and pork and it's likely that the dish originated here.
Tortelli ai Funghi e Parma
Fresh pasta parcels filled with ricotta & prosciutto, in a light cream & wild mushroom sauce with parmesan.
Origin: Parma’s prides are large square envelopes called tortelli and the rounded anolini, which are also made in Piacenza, home of the bean-shaped pisarei.
Farfalle Salsiccia e Piselli
Fresh bowtie pasta tossed in an Italian sausage meat sauce with tomato & garden peas, topped with grated parmesan.
Origin: Pork is Calabria’s prevalent meat, preserved as ham, salame and sausages, including the type that includes bits of liver and lung and is known as 'ndugghia' or 'nnuglia' (probably from andouille, introduced by the occupying French). There are four types of Calabrian salumi: Capocollo (neck roll), Pancetta (pork belly), Salsiccia (sausage) and Soppressata (a type of salame).
Tortelli al Nero
Fresh squid ink pasta pockets filled with prawn, ricotta, lemon & chive, tossed in a mussel ragu.
Origin: As a seafood haven, Venice exalts risotto nero (blackened with cuttlefish ink), scampi (prawns) and spider crabs called granseole—or moleche when males shed their shells in spring and fall. Venetians have their own lexicon for creatures from the lagoon: cannolicchi or cape longhe (razor-shell clams), peoci (mussels), garusoli (spiky murex sea snails), cape sante and the smaller canestrelli (scallops), folpetti (curled octopus), schile (tiny shrimp) and sardele (sardines).
Thin pasta with fresh mussels tossed in a sauce of tomato, garlic, chilli, parsley & white wine.
Origin: A specialty of Apulia, the long, slender region whose tip, the Salento peninsula, forms the heel of the Italian boot.
Traditional meatballs in a sauce of arrabbiata, cream & peas, with fresh pasta & parmesan.
Origin: Sicilians supposedly invented meatballs, polpetti or polpettoni, which are traditionally eaten as a main course with tomato sauce. We have spiced our version up a little.
Note that due to availability of fresh produce, not every dish will be available on the day of your visit.
Next Menu: Secondi