Food and Community: Carboni’s Ristorante

Gnocchi con Mais e Pancetta at Carboni’s Ristorante. Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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Change is hard and trying new things can be scary. However, good food crafted with heart and intention will never lead you down the wrong path.

Getting an opportunity to sit down with Dan Nguyen, the head chef at Carboni’s Ristorante, was eye opening and inspiring. Personally, I have yet to meet a chef that didn’t have heart and passion about creating menu items that were delicious and well thought out. But with a new perspective behind the intention of Chef Dan’s menu made dishes jump off the menu with a new gusto.

One of my new favorite dishes, and one that I hope to enjoy again, is the Gnocchi con Mais e Pancetta. Homemade pasta is something I cannot seem to turn down, and it has never disappointed me. As a life-long pasta lover, I was convinced I had to try it when Chef Dan mentioned the phrase “house-made gnocchi.” But, when that was combined with “pork belly” I was sold without hesitation.

Chef Dan had told me that pork belly had played an integral part of his culinary career and he enjoyed working to create a combination of texture and flavor profiles to feature it in his dishes when he is able. 

I grew up enjoying flavors of both my Mexican grandmama and my Filipino grandma’s cooking. Since the Philippines has some Spanish influences in its culture, there were many times that some things were similar, although spices and ways of cooking meats were very different.

This dish was a combination of both cultures colliding with each other in the most delicious way. The sweet, corn puree, grilled kernels was a delightful balance with the rich fat, and smoky flavor from the pork belly.

I didn’t realize a dish could give me that kind of experience of “home.” I’m looking forward to the next visit to see what pops out to me next.

I would challenge anyone who hasn’t given Carboni’s or the Abbey Rooftop Lounge a chance to give it a try. But, walk in with an open mind and ready to try something new so you can explore the menu with excitement instead of looking for the usual Italian restaurant dish you always order.

Chef Dan is bringing bold flavors and new experiences to our community. We asked for something new, and he isn’t here to disappoint with the expected.

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