“This,” says Steve Samson, setting down a plate of pillowy tortelloni, “is what inspired me to cook in the first place.” Each parcel of pasta is about the size of a small pincushion—the dough rolled by hand until it is thin and delicate, then filled with a mixture of fresh ricotta, parsley, salt, and nutmeg. The touch of a fork releases a puff of steam that mingles with the richness of a San Marzano tomato sauce and a dusting of 24-month-old Parmigiano.
The aroma alone is a one way ticket to Bologna, where Samson’s Italian grandmother rolled out pasta every morning. Tortellini (tiny and labor intensive) were for special occasions. Tortelloni (the larger version) were everyday food, eaten at least twice a week during the summers Samson spent with his nonna.
The dish is now on the menu at Rossoblu, Samson’s new restaurant in the City Market South development downtown, where the chef is celebrating the pastas, grilled meats, sausages, and charcuterie of the Emilia-Romagna region. “This is pretty much straight up her recipe,” Samson says of the tortelloni. “The longer I do this, the more I focus on what I grew up eating.”