Food from Vitali’s Florence, with wines to match

By Cathy Huyghe

This is the sort of thing that happens at Rialto Restaurant + Bar, inside the Charles Hotel in Cambridge:

Benedetta Vitali, chef-owner of Trattoria Zibibbo in Florence, chooses it as her one restaurant stop in all of Boston. She promptly ties on her apron and gets to work in the kitchen, preparing dishes like calamari inzimino and roast lamb with herbs for Rialto’s Guest Chef dinner last Tuesday, March 2.

Filippo Bartolotta, a wine journalist also from Florence and director of Le Baccanti event company, hops a Greyhound bus from New York to join Vitali for her dinner and wine tasting. As though he arrived with bottles of wine in his suitcase — and maybe he did! — Bartolotta leads guests through a reception tasting plus five additional wines paired with three courses during dinner.

At the reception, servers pass appetizers to the lively crowd. Oysters on the half-shell. Prosciutto with a drop of dense balsamic vinegar. The spirit is festive, punctuated by Chef Adams’ signature orange-toned accent pieces.

Rialto is far from the only Italian restaurant in Boston but it manages, sometimes by the sheer force of Adams’ personality, to cultivate the essence of Italian food and wine that we love to love. Ingredients that are true to their personality. Wines that are distinctly of their own origin and no other. All presented with an inspiring vigor, in an atmosphere of companionable conviviality.

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