by Ian McNulty
The regional cooking of Italy drives the menu at Domenica, but so do the cravings and upbringing of Alon Shaya, the downtown restaurant’s Israeli-born chef. In 2010, he introduced Domenica’s first Jewish holiday-themed menus, and these are now annual fixtures during Rosh Hashana, Passover and Chanukah, which this year is Dec. 8-16.
Domenica is not a Kosher restaurant (in fact, its noted for its salumi) and the Chanukah dinner isn’t a Kosher menu. Instead, it’s an interpretation of Jewish holiday traditions through an Italian kitchen.
“It’s combining my Israeli identity and my Roman experience,” says Shaya. “I think we’ve been building this foundation of customers who trust us no matter what we do, so I use these holiday menus to show people some dishes they may not have had before in an environment where they’re already comfortable.”
Domenica’s Chanukah menu is available between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. each day from Dec. 8-16 and costs $60 per person, plus tax and tip. Below is the four-course menu, along with a few notes provided by Shaya about each item.
Crispy potato latkes: with salmon caviar salad, spiced goat cheese and mostarda. “The crispy fried potato latkes are something I ate growing up all my life, though I’m having some fun with the accompaniments. No sour cream or applesauce needed with these.”
Spinach and ricotta crespelle, roasted garlic fonduta. “Jews in Italy eat lots of spinach for their Chanukah meals. We’ve combined that with ricotta to create light delicate crespelle that we roast in the wood oven.”
Short ribs “Hamin:” soft quail eggs, slow cooked beans and heirloom carrots. “Hamin is a typical Shabbat meal of slow roasted meats, root vegetables, beans and eggs. Always cooked overnight to prevent cooking on the Sabbath.”
Dolce: Pasta fritta, cheesecake and satsuma curd. “Every year my mother would and I would make the traditional Chanukah donuts together. Our pastry chef Lisa (White) is combining that classic with a creamy cheesecake and local satsumas.”