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Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy

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Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy is a six-part CNN Original Series that follows Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci as he travels across Italy to discover the secrets and delights of the country’s regional cuisines. Viewers will go along with him as he enjoys the luxurious creamy carbonara of Rome, the delicious simplicity of Sicily’s pasta alla Norma, the saffron-infused silkiness of risotto in Milan, the crispy tenderness of bistecca alla fiorentina, the perfect classic ragu alla bolognese and the world’s best pizza in Naples. Tucci comes prepared with a bottomless appetite for it all, showing us how the diversity of Italian cooking offers a gateway through which you can glimpse Italy’s history and culture

https://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2021/01/13/new-cnn-original-series-stanley-tucci-searching-for-italy-and-lincoln-divided-we-stand-debut-on-sunday-february-14/
 

Sunday Feb 14.

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S1.E1: Naples and the Amalfi Coast

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Stanley Tucci feasts on pizza in Naples. Stanley embarks on a whirlwind tour to find the freshest mozzarella and the best San Marzano tomatoes, and enjoys a spectacular spaghetti and zucchini.

Original air date: 2/14/21

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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Liked the narration, not quite Bourdainesque with the poetic flourishes but conveys interesting background.

With Parts Unknown, it seemed everything was some insider type of event for Tony and the show, so he was having private meals with families, not like what viewers would encounter if they visited these places.

So while the restaurants featured had to make accommodations for the filming, like the pizza chef taking Tucci to the mozzarella and tomato suppliers or the woman who picked him up at the Ischia port and drove him up to the mountains, presumably viewers could go to these places and eat the same dishes they showed in this episode.

Only, unless I missed it, they didn’t name the places featured except that Chiku place in Naples.

Covered a lot of places and episode had good pace.  But practical info would be good.

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I enjoyed watching the show. It did remind me of Anthony Bourdain's show. I would love to visit Italy after the pandemic is over.

 

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I liked this a lot too, more than I liked Bourdain’s shows. Sort of sorry there are only 6 episodes. Maybe they’ll come back and do another season.

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Like the show so far but was surprised to learn that they filmed last summer.  I canceled trips last year, including a trip to Italy, because they weren't allowing Americans into Italy or Europe last year.

Obviously they considered filming an American show to be "essential."  You know, to promote Italy as a destination to Americans, at a time when Americans can't visit Italy?

😄

Well maybe later this year or next year.

History of how pizza developed was cool.  There are documentaries about how pizza developed in the US.  Truly a universal and timeless dish.

How about the unique taste of the San Marzano tomatoes used for the base sauce?  Grown on fields with clay deposited by volcanic eruption!  That's why I want to check out that pizza restaurant, if we ever get to go back to Italy.

 

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2 hours ago, Rickster said:

I liked this a lot too, more than I liked Bourdain’s shows. Sort of sorry there are only 6 episodes. Maybe they’ll come back and do another season.

Bourdain's shows were very good but there was always a strain of dourness (?) whereas Tucci comes across as a happy guy. So his show exudes good feelings. My favorite part was in that restaurant as the storm approached and they were eating spaghetti & zucchini. Wish I had been there!!

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Like the show so far but was surprised to learn that they filmed last summer.  I canceled trips last year, including a trip to Italy, because they weren't allowing Americans into Italy or Europe last year.

Yeah, Stanley sort of handwaved "We found a window when things opened up for foreign travellers" and thought "I don't remember that happening".  I guess money truly does change everything. 

But it did all look fabulous.  

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One thing I did wonder about was if everyone was tested for COVID at that family dinner.  I've never eaten rabbit (never wanted to eat ever since I saw my grandfather and uncle skinning one when I was a child 😱, lol).  I must say, though, that it looked delicious. 

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4 hours ago, aghst said:

Like the show so far but was surprised to learn that they filmed last summer.  I canceled trips last year, including a trip to Italy, because they weren't allowing Americans into Italy or Europe last year.

Obviously they considered filming an American show to be "essential."  You know, to promote Italy as a destination to Americans, at a time when Americans can't visit Italy?

He said he's Italian on both sides, so he could have Italian citizenship. Although, that doesn't explain the crew. Maybe they entered through Great Britain?

 

4 hours ago, Rickster said:

I liked this a lot too, more than I liked Bourdain’s shows. Sort of sorry there are only 6 episodes. Maybe they’ll come back and do another season.

They said he visited all the regions in Italy which was around 20. Since each episode focuses on one region, I have hopes that we'll get more because they've filmed more.

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I seem to remember reading that the south of Italy was not as affected by covid as the north. Will be curious to see what the situation is when he gets to Milan and Bologna.

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As a fan of travel shows and Italian food, I was totally prepared to love this show, but I have to admit that hearing that intro where he said they filmed this last summer and they didn't have to wear masks because it wasn't required made me give the whole production the side eye. I definitely saw a few people on the street who were wearing masks (despite not being required) so I was definitely curious about the details of filming this. I remember early on during the lockdown in Italy, people were being fined for breaking quarantine regulations so I was trying to figure out exactly when he was there.

I was wondering how many cities they managed to visit before Italy went back into pandemic mode. Overall the country did experience a lull in cases from about May through August when they had less than 1000 new cases per day, but they started spiking again in September (cases peaked in November with over 33K new cases in one day and last week they had about 14K new cases per day) so I'm guessing they probably only managed to film for maybe 6-8 weeks before getting shut down.

I enjoyed all the locations he visited and all the food looked amazing. I have become such a mozzarella snob since having buffalo mozzarella. Don't get me wrong - I will still eat string cheese and cow's milk mozzarella, but every time I see buffalo mozzarella available, I buy it because it is SO much better. If you ever have the chance to try gelato made with buffalo milk, it's so creamy and has a luxurious texture.

I was jealous watching him eat fresh San Marzano tomatoes right off the vine. I was about to start raiding my kitchen to make some sauce with whatever I could find. I liked learning about fried pizza too. Yum!

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Back when cooking shows began to promote San Marzano tomatoes, I bought a can at Whole Foods. They tasted like canned tomatoes...no big woo. Is there a really good brand of SM tomatoes? 

 

 

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I wasn't looking forward to this very much, because the endless commercials for it came across as a knock off Bourdain, and Tucci seemed a bit pompous. I was pleasantly surprised. 

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7 hours ago, annzeepark914 said:

Is there a really good brand of SM tomatoes? 

Look for San Marzano DOP Tomato. Label should include things like D.O.P certified (Protected Designation of Origin) San Marzano tomatoes, imported from Italy, from Campania. They are not competitively priced with other San Marzano-style tomatoes.

Meanwhile, Stanley can mix me a negroni and talk about all the places he visited all. day. long. I'm lucky enough to have visited the Amalfi coast a couple of times, haven't been able to duplicate the quality of some dishes I had there, either. The zucchini/pasta dish was a good example of why, because those squash were in that soil the day before. And the white anchovies were in the water that morning. And those lemons don't grow anywhere else. 

Tucci's knowledge and appreciation for the food and people works for me. As for subdued voice-over readings? I read some of it was done from his home studio during the lockdown, so it won't match his on-camera joy. Don't care. Make season two, go to Liguria and along the Adriatic.

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Speaking of pizza, I had a pizza a couple years ago from a small Italian restaurant.  It was my first time there and I had never tasted mozzarella as good as that.  The whole pizza was divine, unlike any I'd had before.  I hope to go back soon.  Now I'm spoiled and can't eat Domino's or any of the other fast food pizza chain food. 

So my question is, is there such a thing as "real" Italian mozzarella, as opposed to the pizza chain stuff? 

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20 minutes ago, Crashcourse said:

Speaking of pizza, I had a pizza a couple years ago from a small Italian restaurant.  It was my first time there and I had never tasted mozzarella as good as that.  The whole pizza was divine, unlike any I'd had before.  I hope to go back soon.  Now I'm spoiled and can't eat Domino's or any of the other fast food pizza chain food. 

So my question is, is there such a thing as "real" Italian mozzarella, as opposed to the pizza chain stuff? 

There are some "neapolitan" pizzerias and they offer the types of pizzas you'd get in Italy, which isn't as loaded with toppings as typical American ones.

Not sure what ingredients they use but they are often upscale places so they may import some ingredients.

I do like both American and Italian pizzas though I've had plenty of mediocre pizzas there.  Though never in Naples.

There was one place that opened near me in the Bay Area that offered paninis with imported ingredients.  They were charging $14-15 for a panino when in Italy, you'd get them for 5 Euros top with DOC ingredients.  Needless to say, the place didn't last.

Pizzas in Italy are usually in bargain items, like as low as 5-7 Euros.  They don't load it up with meat but not clear they're using the most priciest cheese either.

OK found a TripAdvisor review of Pizzeria La Notizia and someone posted a photo of the menu.  They have regular and DOP pizzas:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187785-d1091722-Reviews-Pizzaria_La_Notizia-Naples_Province_of_Naples_Campania.html#photos;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=453039731

Oh and those two outlets owned by that chef, they don't have anything like that terrace overlooking the city and the sea so they filmed that somewhere else.

Oh well so much for the ambience.

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3 hours ago, Crashcourse said:

Speaking of pizza, I had a pizza a couple years ago from a small Italian restaurant.  It was my first time there and I had never tasted mozzarella as good as that.  The whole pizza was divine, unlike any I'd had before.  I hope to go back soon.  Now I'm spoiled and can't eat Domino's or any of the other fast food pizza chain food. 

So my question is, is there such a thing as "real" Italian mozzarella, as opposed to the pizza chain stuff? 

Chains like Domino’s & Pizza Hut are using something like an industrial grade cheese, mass produced to their specifications. You don’t have to go to the extreme of imported Italian buffalo milk mozzarella to do better. Depending on the type of pizza, even domestic fresh mozzarella from the supermarket would be an improvement.

Edited by Rickster
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1 hour ago, Rickster said:

Chains like Domino’s & Pizza Hut

Forgive the detour, I caught an hour show about the founders of these chains over the weekend. PH bros created a Kansas version of something called a pizza they'd read about. D bros, pretty much the same--marketed primarily on campuses in the beginning. Nobody was aiming for a Neapolitan version. That fried pizza Stanley ate reminded me of a calzone. 

 

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10 hours ago, buttersister said:

That fried pizza Stanley ate reminded me of a calzone. 

 

Yes. And so I was shocked to see it fried, as calzones are baked.  Tucci is good at this type of program. I'm now wondering if he'll be visiting other countries once the tour of Italy is over. I sure hope so!  

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I assume Italy was because of his heritage, familiarity with the country and his language skill (I was really impressed with his fluency).   Perhaps during the series he will go to the region of Italy where his family comes from. 

I don't think going to another country would feel the same.  

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On 2/14/2021 at 8:31 PM, aghst said:

unless I missed it, they didn’t name the places featured except that Chiku place in Naples.

Covered a lot of places and episode had good pace.  But practical info would be good.

There's a link above, but here's the list for this week's episode:

Pizza Fritte de Fernanda: Professor Elisabetta Moro introduced Tucci to this fried pizza purveyor, where they snacked on hot bundles filled with pork and ricotta.

Pizzeria la Notizia: Enzo Coccia, who made Tucci a classic pizza in the episode, actually wrote the globally recognized standards on making the best Neapolitan pizza. You'll find his Michelin-recognized work here.

Chiku: While in Scampia, Tucci visited this eatery "in which Neapolitan and Balkan cuisine find a fusion and a common dimension," as Chiku describes.

Il Focolare: Tucked away on the island of Ischia, a ferry's ride away from Naples, this restaurant draws crowds thanks to its coniglio all'ischitana, made with local wild rabbit.

Lo Scoglio: Come for the views of the Amalfi Coast, stay for Tucci's favorite spaghetti and zucchini dish, spaghetti alla nerano.

Pasticceria Sal De Riso: When life gives pastry chef Sal De Riso Amalfi Coast lemons, he makes a revolutionary confection called a lemon delight cake. (The key to the dessert's "delight"? Lots and lots of cream.)

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1 hour ago, annzeepark914 said:

Yes. And so I was shocked to see it fried, as calzones are baked.  Tucci is good at this type of program. I'm now wondering if he'll be visiting other countries once the tour of Italy is over. I sure hope so!  

Some local Catholic churches near me with large Italian American congregations run festivals in the summer at which they serve pizza frita, which to them  is a pizza dough round fried and covered with sauce or powdered sugar. I was surprised to see on the show something that looked like a calzone.

30 minutes ago, Quof said:

I assume Italy was because of his heritage, familiarity with the country and his language skill (I was really impressed with his fluency).   Perhaps during the series he will go to the region of Italy where his family comes from. 

I don't think going to another country would feel the same.  

Wikipedia says his family is originally from Calabria, which is the toe of the boot, across from Sicily. Apparently he also spent time in Florence as a kid. 

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I'm hungry for some authentic Italian food.  I've always wanted to go to Italy, so that's my goal in a couple of years, God willing.

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On 2/16/2021 at 5:29 PM, aghst said:

There was one place that opened near me in the Bay Area that offered paninis with imported ingredients.  They were charging $14-15 for a panino when in Italy, you'd get them for 5 Euros top with DOC ingredients.  Needless to say, the place didn't last.

You wouldn't be referring to the place in Cupertino near the new Apple campus, would you? Can't remember the name of it. It was the only American outpost of an Italian chain, if I remember correctly. They were expensive but they were really good.

There is a place near me that does pizza frette, though their interpretation is deep-fried dough with burrata and prosciutto to scoop up. So good, albeit a sometimes food.

I really enjoyed this. I find Stanley Tucci very personable onscreen and he really seemed to be having a good time. What I heard him say about masks was that they were not required outdoors at that time.

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On 2/15/2021 at 3:26 PM, CheshireCat said:

He said he's Italian on both sides, so he could have Italian citizenship. Although, that doesn't explain the crew. Maybe they entered through Great Britain?

I wonder if this is it.  His wife (Emily Blunt's sister) is British.  I believe they live there at least part of the year.  He might have been able to go in through the UK.

On 2/16/2021 at 6:48 PM, Crashcourse said:

So my question is, is there such a thing as "real" Italian mozzarella, as opposed to the pizza chain stuff? 

Yes.  You can find it in the grocery store.  It's usually comes in balls and is a little wet.  Slice it and put it on the pizza or lasagna.  Very good.

I actually don't mind the industrial stuff when I want more coverage as the grated stuff is easier to spread out but if the mozz is going to be highlighted, go with the good stuff. 

On 2/15/2021 at 11:21 AM, aghst said:

How about the unique taste of the San Marzano tomatoes used for the base sauce?

There's an Argentinian place in my town whose base sauce for pizza is basically just San Marzano tomatoes.  And the crust is a little salty so their pizzas have this sweet and salty thing going on that's incredible.  I think I know what I'm doing this weekend.

On 2/16/2021 at 10:33 AM, annzeepark914 said:

Back when cooking shows began to promote San Marzano tomatoes, I bought a can at Whole Foods. They tasted like canned tomatoes...no big woo. Is there a really good brand of SM tomatoes? 

I think they're a little sweeter than regular canned tomatoes. 

Edited by Irlandesa
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Nearly every place that “didn’t allow” Americans still allowed them in for work purposes after a mandatory quarantine and that included production of tv and films. I imagine approving visas for what is essentially a love letter to Italy being done by CNN was a no brainer given the tourism industry was so hard hit.

But yes most of the pandemic Tucci was in England where he spends a good chunk of the year so most likely has the appropriate permanent resident documentation to be in England not on a tourist visa. 

Edited by biakbiak
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On 2/15/2021 at 1:26 PM, CheshireCat said:

He said he's Italian on both sides, so he could have Italian citizenship. Although, that doesn't explain the crew. Maybe they entered through Great Britain?

I didn't look at the credits to see the names of the crew members, but is it also possible that he was able to hire an Italian crew to film? Hiring people during a pandemic would have brought some good will to the project and since he speaks decent Italian, he would have been able to communicate with them (in addition, a lot of people in Italy speak English). And since the show was done through CNN, I'm sure they had some reliable contacts in Italy.

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10 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

didn't look at the credits to see the names of the crew members, but is it also possible that he was able to hire an Italian crew to film? Hiring

The production crew listed on IMDb names are nearly all UK based including the one Italian. But again the rules were different for Americans working in places then people traveling there as tourists.

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I watched the first episode and I’m hooked. It’s got a good mix of history, current events, food, and local flavor like Bourdain’s show

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S1.E2: Rome

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While in Rome, Tucci orders rigatoni all’Amatriciana, samples carbonara and tries a selection of cheeses and sausages made from the sheep and pigs farmed in the region.

Original air date: 2/21/21

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On 2/15/2021 at 2:21 PM, annzeepark914 said:

 

On 2/15/2021 at 12:11 PM, Rickster said:

I liked this a lot too, more than I liked Bourdain’s shows. Sort of sorry there are only 6 episodes. Maybe they’ll come back and do another season.

Bourdain's shows were very good but there was always a strain of dourness (?) whereas Tucci comes across as a happy guy. So his show exudes good feelings. My favorite part was in that restaurant as the storm approached and they were eating spaghetti & zucchini. Wish I had been there!!

 

This reminds me more of the early Bourdain shows, back when he first started with A Cooks Tour on the the Food Channel.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Bourdain's shows (and his writing), but the shows became more political and sociological rather than food/travel driven at some point. 

This is a nice, pleasant show with pretty scenery and displays of good food.  Stanley Tucci is handling his duties well.  I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the series.  

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Tonight's episode was good (but not as memorable to me as the 1st episode & the Amalfi Coast 💖). I know I'll never take a bite of tripe!

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I guess, considering today's note that the episode was filmed before Covid, it's possible that the crew was already there when it broke out and didn't return home but spent the lockdown period somewhere in Europe.

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I think it was filmed in 2019.  You see crowds.

Wow, pasta is antifascist!

Here are the restaurants featured in the Rome episode:

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Bar San Calisto: Tucci and friend Claudia della Frattina stopped by this cafe for espresso. But when the maritozzi -- brioche-like buns filled with cream -- appeared, so did the spoons to dig in. 

Armando al Pantheon: Next, Tucci and della Frattina made their way to Armando al Pantheon for a classic Roman lunch. They chose rigatoni all'amatriciana, one of Rome's famous four pastas.

Pommidoro: Tucci's pasta tour didn't end there. Accompanied by chef, historian and DJ Daniele di Michele, Tucci ventured to this restaurant in search of soul-satisfying carbonara, made with guanciale, pecorino, black pepper and eggs. 

SantoPalato: Along with food critic Katie Parla, Tucci looked inward for this meal -- specifically, the innards of chicken and beef. At this offal restaurant, run by chef Sarah Cicolini, Tucci and Parla enjoyed a frittata with mashed chicken offal; Roman tripe cooked in tomatoes; wagyu heart tartare; and oxtail meatball with peanut, wild celery and cocoa powder sauce.

La Reginella: The humble artichoke, fried until it's so crisp it's like candy, contains a world of history, as restaurant owner Italia Tagliacozzo described.

Bistrot64: The beauty of cacio e pepe is in its simplicity; with so few ingredients, the work of a master can be tasted from the first bite. As Tucci learned in his final stop this episode, Japanese chef Kotaro Noda of Bistrot64 has gotten the balance of pasta, cheese and pepper just right. 

 

 

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DH and I tuned into E1 right when they were making that scrumptious-looking pizza.  We finished the episode and re-started it in the PVR to catch the beginning, but watched through the pizza-making scene, which we both found ourselves NEEDING to see again, and agreed we were going to have lustful dreams about that pizza!  Tonight I woke up from a nap (I’m recovering from shoulder surgery) halfway through the re-air of E1...the first thing I said was, “You watched them make the pizza again, didn’t you?”  Yes, yes he did 😀  That scene is the very definition of food porn, I swear.

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I'm loving this show. Who knew Italians ate giant cream-filled buns for breakfast? 

After months of keto I'm now desperately craving pasta. I think I'll make some spaghetti carbonara for supper, but in small portions, the way they apparently eat it in Rome. 

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Those arsonists that burned down cafes and restaurants in this era makes me so mad! 😤I would have said more, but I am done here. These owners and cooks are trying to make a living. WTF?

So horrible....it just bugs me that this could happen in Italy. I feel that cafe owner's frustration and pain. 

Edited by Robert Lynch
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This is my favorite TV show. Stanley does an amazing job of putting the focus on the food. He is also very friendly with the chefs.

I loved all the pastas, especially the Pasta Carbonara.

My only complaint is that this show makes the food look so good, that I wish I could fly to Italy to go eat at those restaurants but can't due to the current travel restrictions.

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Judging by the clothing and state of the leaves on trees, I would guess this was filmed in the fall/early winter 2019.

Preferred the Naples segment. Too much offal in Rome😝

However, looking forward to the Bologna segment. I think I saw Stanley with one of my favorite Italian chefs, Massimo Bottura, in the preview.

 

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34 minutes ago, Rickster said:

. I think I saw Stanley with one of my favorite Italian chefs, Massimo Bottura, in the preview.

Pretty sure it’s impossible to film a show about food in Emilia-Romagna and not include him. Heck he even showed up in Master of None. 

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1 hour ago, Rickster said:

However, looking forward to the Bologna segment. I think I saw Stanley with one of my favorite Italian chefs, Massimo Bottura, in the preview.

 

My friend and I saw him when we dined at Osteria Francescana in December '19. (Took a two week trip to Italy right before COVID started to be a problem over there...this show makes us want to return SO much).  He's delightful. Can't wait to see Stanley with him in next week's episode!

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