When we left Rome and moved to the States, well-intentioned family and friends often offered to take us to their favorite Italian restaurants. Each time we were let down – the food was just not authentic.
For example, in Italy “chicken cacciatore” is not a pasta dish. In fact, we don’t eat chicken in pasta. We don’t eat it on pizza, either. Ever. We also don’t like big pieces of garlic in the food we eat. Who wants to bite into a piece of garlic? And, believe it or not, Stefano had never heard of alfredo sauce until he came to the States.
In short, there’s Italian food, and Italian-American food. Don’t get us wrong – we aren’t here to criticize Italian-American food. It is its own cuisine with its own rich history, and it should be appreciated accordingly. However, it is not the same as Italian food, and when you are new to this country and nostalgic for the tastes from back home, the worst thing to do is to is to go to an Italian-American restaurant. So we pretty much gave up on Italian restaurants, until we met Filippo.
Filippo Caffari is from our hometown of Rome, where he was a master-butcher until he and his family moved to the United States and Filippo began working in restaurants in New York and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and quickly became known as one of finest Italian chefs in the Midwest.
Filippo is now co-owner of The Butcher Block, a vibrant trattoria-style restaurant on Hennepin Avenue in northeast Minneapolis. Full disclosure: we are biased. Filippo has become a dear friend, and Stefano can often be found on weekends helping out at the restaurant and serving wine to customers. In Due Spaghetti, our intention isn’t to write objective restaurant reviews, it is to share the places we love with you.
Filippo’s dishes are authentic Italian, rustic in nature but refined and creative in execution. The desserts prepared by Kristin, also a Butcher Block co-owner, are comforting, but imaginative and elegant at the same time.
Perhaps the best part of dining at the Butcher Block is the way Filippo interacts with his clients. He is a common presence in the dining hall, talking with customers, explaining his dishes, and seeking their opinions. His is passionate about food, and he takes great satisfaction in providing pleasure to others through his meals. His exuberant personality and quick sense of humor make his visit to your table a memorable one.
Stefano’s dinner – Savory Roman Classics
Primo Piatto: Rigatoni Pajata
Secondo Piatto: Veal Liver Marsala
Wine: Sergio Barale Langhe Nebbiolo
Dolce: Crème Brulee
Cara’s dinner – Summertime at the Sea
Antipasto: Grilled Octopus
Primo Piatto: Black Monk Ravioli
Secondo Piatto: Pan Seared Ahi Tuna
Wine: Santa Tresa Rina Ianca
Dolce: Tiramisu Lemoncello
The Butcher Block
308 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414-1016