But Italy worked some marvel in her. It gave her light…
— E.M Forster, ‘A Room with a View’ – 1908
I venture into a world of irresistible aromas. Hushed murmurs of conversation float among neat tables adorned with black linen cloth. Diners lean back on lustrous cherrywood chairs while enjoying Italian entrées with long names like Cappelini Al Pomodoro and Mannicotti Al Forno. A corner café in Milano? No, it is Trupiano’s Italian Bistro in Fallbrook, a thriving eight-year-old establishment.
Faro Trupiano, proprietor and chef, travels to Italy every other year to visit relatives and research the country’s varied cuisines. Trupiano’s focus is more on the cuisine from northern Italy, which is light fare enhanced by white wine and cream sauces. Faro travels throughout Italy visiting restaurants to, “see what’s new and exciting.” His Italian adventure includes exploring new flavors, recipes and dishes.
About twenty-five percent of the menu items are created by Faro, however, the majority of recipes are his mother’s.
“My mom is the best cook in the entire world and she taught me most everything I know.”
“Cavatappi Valentino,” a dinner special, was the People’s Choice award winner at the 2012 Wine, Brews and Blues Festival in Escondido. Faro created it about six months ago, expressly for the festival. “I started experimenting with various ingredients, and had never incorporated the corkscrew pasta, but I like the fact that it had a hole so the sauce could seep in.”
The dish is a mingling of shrimp, marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts mixed with dill and lobster-infused cream sauce and corkscrew pasta.
“Cavatappi Valentino” was named in honor of Rudolph Valentino. “There is a lot of love in that dish,” Faro said, “…romanticism…all those flavors coming together.” “Cavatappi,” simply means “corkscrew” in Italian.
Angeline Pinot Noir is the recommended wine pairing for this entrée. Made in the Russian River Valley, this medium-bodied wine is full of the aromas of strawberries, raspberries and plums layered with subtle nuances of vanilla.
I lingered over my “Cavatappi Valentino” because I didn’t want the experience to end. It was a marriage of flavors that worked. No divorce papers here! The shrimp (from the Gulf of Mexico) are large, firm and flavorful and mix well with the tender marinated artichoke hearts.
The corkscrew pasta holds not only the crème sauce in its swirls, but the pine nuts and tomatoes as well. The dill and lobster infused cream sauce has a bit of a bite to it; and I could taste a hint of lobster, which complements the shrimp, giving the dish a whiff of the sea. The pine nuts lend hints of earthy flavor.
In keeping with the growing demand for healthful food, Trupiano’s offers what they term a “Heart Healthy” menu with six dishes that are free of heavy creams and sauces. “Salmone Buona Salute” is grilled salmon enhanced by capers, tomatoes and herbs, then served over sautéed spinach. There is no compromise in flavor with this savory dish.
Why does Faro continue this culinary journey? “The people, the relationships that you form, for me it’s like home. My customers are not just customers, they are more like friends.”
Sometimes if people are having a bad day, Faro says the food can be, “almost like medicine…by feeding them a good meal and giving them a great experience I have somehow made their day better.”
Trupiano’s Italian Bistro is located at 945 South Main Avenue, Fallbrook. Phone (760) 728-0200.