March's Can't-Miss Dish

Radiatore di Grano Arso - Chickadee
By Ellen Bhang · 03/04/2019

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it. 

On the plate: Radiatore di Grano Arso

Where to find it: If you’re unacquainted with the industrial fringes of the Seaport District, point your GPS to Drydock Avenue and marvel as the Innovation and Design Building comes into view. It’s home to Chickadee, the Mediterranean-meets-New England restaurant of chef John daSilva and beverage director Ted Kilpatrick. Both are alums of No. 9 Park. Most recently, daSilva was chef at the first iteration of Spoke Wine Bar in Somerville, and Kilpatrick was on the opening team of O Ya in New York.

Notes on the nosh: According to one origin story, radiatore pasta was designed to mimic the radiator grill of a vintage sports car—hence, the automotive-parts name. The term “grano arso,” which translates as “burnt grain,” might be new to you. It refers to the southern Italian practice of repurposing charred crumbs from pizza and bread ovens into an ingredient for pasta and other dishes. At Chickadee, daSilva applies blisteringly high heat to carrot pulp (the leftovers from juice-making) to transform it into ash. Scant amounts are worked into a dough, resulting in a nutty-tasting product that sports a dark chocolate hue. Tossed with fermented peppers and adorned with grated ricotta salata, the pasta is sauced with marinara seasoned with black garlic and apple cider syrup. Barbecued rabbit—a protein you might not expect—is the featured meat.

“Tad Largey’s rabbits are unlike any other, so we’re always thinking of creative ways to use them,” says daSilva, talking up one of several animals raised by the proprietor of Feather Brook Farms in Raynham. A decision to barbecue the meat then shred it like pulled pork prompted the kitchen team to make the special radiatore. “What’s at the core of barbecue?” muses the chef. “It’s charred; it’s dark; there’s depth and smoke. We wanted a pasta to sing in harmony with that.”

Sip alongside: With the radiatore, Kilpatrick recommends a red from Austria’s Burgenland, crafted from Zweigelt grapes by fourth-generation winemaker Erich Sattler. Scents of red fruits and a whisper of potpourri lead to a palate of ripe, lithe tannins. Kilpatrick loves what he describes as the “glossiness and silkiness” of the 2015 pour, which is on offer by the glass. “Wine is the workhorse of the dinner,” says the beverage pro. “It elevates, and gets the mouth ready for the next bite.”

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