Giovanniâs Bistro, Bar and Catering in Berkeley Heights turns out what it calls ânew American cuisine with Mediterranean and Italian influences.â
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A version of what we serve on our table and the history behind it. As many of us know Portugal had a huge impact on the spice trade. At one time in portugal and in most of the world black pepper was valued more then gold itself. To show off as the wealthy tend to do the portuguese took their already traditional suckling pig roasts and made them a sign of wealth. During the process the pigs would be basted with a mix of ground black pepper, pork fat, garlic and herbs. Basted through the entire roasting to leave a super crisp and spicy pig that we are famous for today. The thing was the rich didnt roast the pigs. They had the slaves or servants do the work and it became a tradition that the cooks would sneak the family’s to the roast and dip bread into the lard as it roasted away. It was a way to get a taste of the good life without ripping a chunk of pig off. So this thought sat with me since both my parents grew up very very poor and made do with what they had. I thought what better way to nod at this tradition other then create a version of the basting liquid and serve it to accompany our warm bread. It instantly became a huge hit and thats what’s served on the table at Louro day in day out. I decided to take it a step further and make it seasonal by changing it as time went on. In the winter we leave it as its core simple and rich, in the fall we mix it with roast squash and pumpkin to add the sweet flavors of the cooling months, in the spring we mix it with spring onion tops and green garlic, a splash of vinegar and arugala to celebrate the coming of all things green, Currently we take the summer approach and roast tomatos to a deep flavor and fold in charred scallions to give that earthy grilled flavor. Its become a point of pride for me and something that is deep rooted in the history of my family.