The Taste: Piazza Italian Market
Aug 16, 2016 04:42PM ● Published by Arden Haley
410-820-8281 | piazzaitalianmarket.com
By Rita Calvert // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.
Since opening in 2008, Piazza Italian Market has been serving fresh and innovative regional Italian cuisine that continues to entice and satisfy the locals. Located in the heart of Easton, this “porta via” cafe and market also represents the local community by working with farms for their produce as well as some artisan producers. I caught up with Emily Chandler, founder and mom, to get the current news, as well as a stellar recipe.
What are some new developments for you?We now have Piazza Kitchen all fired up! It’s just a stone’s throw away from our market and has enabled us to up our sales by 50 percent in the first few months. Because of increased kitchen production, we have a new expanded refrigerated display case in our market. Now we need additional seating outside and upstairs. It’s all great!
Another very new development is our participation in St. Michaels Farmers’ Market, where we’ve opened to a whole new stream of customers as well as being out there to meet farmers and other specialty food producers. We sell a few of our popular “takeaways,” like slices of frittata and focaccia to eat on the spot. We also offer many of our house-made soups and sauces.
You seem to have an incredible range of knowledge of particular Italian ingredients. Where did you gain all of that information?A lot of my knowledge came from (and continues to come from) my annual trips to Italy with my family. Not only do we attend Italian trade shows, we travel to the regions where these specialties are produced and get to know the people behind the products. We also watch the production in action—like grapes being picked and wine made or olive oil being pressed. It’s a story of a region one doesn’t forget.
Do you educate your customers on the fine ingredients of Italy? Classes, wine tastings?I love to talk to my customers to acquaint them with the fascinating details of various regions of Italy. It’s also very important that our staff learns all of this, as well. We have meetings with tastings of food products and wine. Then my staff and I can thoroughly explain our products.
You explained in the past that Piatti Pronti are your dinners to-go. Tell us about these for 2016 and beyond.We offer ready-made meals that only need heating. We are not a meal ingredient delivery service with a contract. From our Asparagus Lasagna to Piatti homemade meatballs to desserts, like Tiramisu, we teach folks how to build a complete carefree meal.
Some of our extremely popular classics (which means we always carry them) are: Bistecca with Potatoes and House-Made Olive Butter, Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Onions, Bell Peppers, and Shallot Butter. We also have created a new winner—Pork Milanese.
You mention that you work with local farms. Which ones? Are you partnering/ collaborating with any other businesses in the area?Many area farms provide a good bit of our produce. We have started some collaborations and keep our eyes open for more. Since we sell at St. Michaels’ Farmers Market, we have joined forces with The Bay Mushrooms, which we use exclusively for our dishes. Since they actively sell at the Anne Arundel County Farmers’ Market, they will sell some of our finished products that contain their mushrooms. We also use Lyon Distilling Company in our products, Rise Up Coffee in our Tiramisu, and cheese from Chapel Country Creamery.
When our Piazza Kitchen Cooking facility opens, we will be inviting our local chefs, producers, and farmers to give classes.
Tell us about your last trip to Italy. What were some off the “finds” you are excited about?My last trip was in October, as I love to go that time of year for the wine harvest. We (my parents, husband, and daughter, who is now 14 months old) focused on eastern Sicily and were taken with [the city] Ragusa. Formerly, at a northern Italian food show, I had met the Cutrera concern that is a family-run, “slow-food” award-winning line of precious olive oils, pasta sauces, tapenade, and caponata. I visited their facility and saw how this highly respected product line is made. We now carry these fabulous products.
During the harvest, I also discovered the wines, Tenuta Terre Nere, grown at the base of Mt. Etna. This more austere wine styleis considered the next Burgundy of Italy. The micro-climate is the new “wine zone” producing grapes from the very rich soil of volcanic ash in the area!
Piazza’s Pan Roasted Chicken Breast Over Polenta
Serves 4This is the kind of recipe we will offer and explain in detail at thePiazza Kitchen cooking classes! You will want to have the polenta prepared before starting the chicken.
- 1 pound dry polenta
- 1/2 cup (approximately ¼ lb.) diced young Tuscan pecorino
- 1/4 cup of grated aged Grana or Parmesan cheese (approximately 2 ounces)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook polenta according to package directions. Add pecorino and Grana cheeses followed by the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir polenta until creamy and all the ingredients are incorporated, and pour it into a baking dish or a sheet pan. Once cool, slice polenta in triangles to be served with chicken.Grill, or roast polenta in oven for 15–20 minutes prior to serving
Pan Roasted Chicken:
- 4 each, Murray’s airline*
- chicken breasts, skin removed
- All-purpose flour to dust chicken
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup fresh shallots, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh sage, thinly sliced
- Sage sprigs for garnish
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dust with flour and pat off excess. Heat the butter in medium skillet and sauté chicken on both sides until golden. Remove chicken from pan and transfer onto a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, (chicken must reach an internal temperature of 160F).
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Add shallots to the same skillet and cook until golden. Add sage, sundried tomatoes, and cook for a few more minutes. Add wine and cook to evaporate the alcohol. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the golden bits from the bottom. Add broth and simmer to obtain a smooth, silky sauce.
Place chicken back in the sauté pan along with its juices and gently cook for a few more seconds, turning once.
Transfer to a heated plate lined with hot polenta triangles. Cover chicken with all the sauce and garnish with chopped parsley and sage sprigs.