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Building the Perfect Antipasto Plate

By Carrie Becker in Food on Dec 18, 2009 5:00PM

Photo by Conti Di Savoia

Everyone has their own Christmas traditions but in my family there are two things from my far removed Italian heritage that are true staples -- the antipasto plate and fresh cannoli. We prefer to create our own versus the pre-made plate but are not opposed to a little help from experts.

Mike DiCosola, owner of Conti di Savoia (1438 W. Taylor St), helped us out with the basic building blocks of a proper plate. "You need to have at least three meats and three cheeses. So go with a Prosciutto De Parma, Genoa Salami and Prosciutto Cotto then your cheeses should include Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino and fresh Mozzarella." DiCosola tells us they make their mozzarella fresh in house and have had folks from the Wall Street Journal pop in. Recently, a customer made a special stop at Conti di Savoia after reading about it on a restaurant wall in their native country, Rome, Italy.

So now that we have a base, we'd also highly recommend adding the following:

  • Cherry Peppers stuffed with provolone and prosciutto
  • Cerignolae Olives: fresh, green and sweet tasting
  • Brined Kalamata Olives: salty and very flavorful
  • Soppressata: spicy, dry-cured salami
  • Marinated artichokes: usually marinated with a mix of Italian seasonings and equal parts vinegar and oil

As for the cannoli, we will leave you with this one tip: do not dare leave a deli with them already filled. To keep the shell crisp and airy, make sure to ask for a bag of the ricotta cream filling and requisite crushed pistachios. No more than 30 minutes before serving dessert pipe the filling by cutting a corner off the plastic bag then stamp each end of the filled cannoli in a plate of the pistachios.

Buon Appetito!