By: Kirsten Iverson, Greenheart Exchange CAP Services Assistant

“Che bella, no?” he asked as he lifted the sheet of pasta into the light.  It was so thin and delicate, you could see right through it. Francesco, a J-1 trainee from Italy, spread the pasta back on the table and told us he would leave it there to rest before he cut it into the chosen shape.

He walked us back into the pasta workshop and pulled out trays and trays of drying pasta as he rattled off the name of each: tortelloni, tagliatelle, pappardelle, tagliolini.  Wren and I stared in awe as our mouths began to water.

We returned upstairs and sat down at a table in the sparkling, new restaurant, Rossoblu. It was adorned with giant windows, industrial beams, and a beautiful mural. Francesco began talking about how great his training was going.  Each word dripped with passion, while his hands moved up and down in a typical Italian fashion as he described how much he loved to make pasta. What a coincidence I thought… I love to eat pasta!

It was 5:30 p.m. and the restaurant formally opened at 6:00 p.m. Servers rushed around, making final touches, and holding a quick meeting before service was to begin. Francesco had to return to his workshop, so Wren and I quickly grabbed a seat at the bar in the hopes of enjoying some of Francesco’s pasta that we had been drooling over.

By the time 6 o’clock hit, people were lining up at the door! The restaurant had been fully booked every night since its coveted opening, and Wren and I were lucky to even get a seat.

We started with Valbruna’s eggplant; it tasted so delicate, with a rich and flavorful sauce, finished with shaved parmesan. Next came the bread basket with salted butter made in-house—there wasn’t a piece left by the time we were done with it!

Finally, it was time for the pasta. I ordered the tortelloni, which came adorned with Swiss chard, ricotta, tomato sugo, and of course, Parmigiano I savored every bite. By this point we were stuffed, but we couldn’t say no to dessert! Besides, I loved the name: brutti ma buoni — which translates to ‘ugly but good’, and it was great!

Hungry for more cultural exchange experiences? Check out Greenheart Exchange’s Intern and Trainee program!