Welcome to Our Neighborhood
Ricotta Gnudi with
English Peas & Prosciutto
Chef Priscilla Przygocki | Mama Oakland
A Twisted View on Fine Dining Sustainability
Ryan Cole, CEO | Hi Neighbor Group
Entertaining Tips with Tai Ricci:
Amp Up Your Next Dinner Party
Tai Ricci, Partner | Hi Neighbor Group
New & Notable:
The Madrigal Launches Their Spring Menu
Mike McCardle, Lead Bartender | The Madrigal
Don't Have Time to Cook?
Our delicious spring gnudi is on the menu at MAMA Oakland from April 6th – 12th.
Piano Lounge at The Vault Steakhouse
Join us Tuesdays – Saturday, 4 pm-close, and unwind from the day with a classic cocktail while the piano keys let the day's stress melt away.
Easter Brunch at The Vault Garden
Gather your family and friends and join us for Easter Brunch in our covered and heated outdoor garden.
Are you looking for a light, fresh pasta dish perfect for spring? Then, look no further than Chef Priscilla’s delicious ricotta gnudi recipe! Made with creamy ricotta and parmesan cheese, these light and pillowy dumplings make for the perfect celebration of spring when paired with English peas, asparagus, and prosciutto.
For the perfect wine complement, serve Chef Priscilla’s Gnudi with an unoaked, high-acid, savory white wine—like one from Chablis. Our sommelier, Steve Izzo, notes, “The citrussy, green-apple crisp, mineral-driven chardonnays of Chablis are a great match with these delicate dumplings.”
Ricotta Gnudi with English Peas & Prosciutto
Start this dish by preparing the Gnudi, assembling the sauce, and finishing with the garnishes. Gnudi can be made in advance and held in the fridge for 3 hours or frozen overnight.
For the Gnudi:
1 ¾ cups ricotta (or 1lb container)
Bellwether brand preferred. If using another brand, the mixture may be too moist. You may need to strain overnight with cheesecloth if a noticeable amount of liquid is in the ricotta.
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus ¼ cup to garnish
1/3 cup “OO” flour preferred (can use AP flour), plus another two cups for the baking tray
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Salt
For the Sauce:
2 cups Chicken stock (vegetable stock or water or suitable substitutes)
4 Tablespoons Butter
Zest of ½ a Lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
8 Slices of Prosciutto- cut into strips
2 cups English Peas, fresh shucked or frozen
8 Spears Asparagus- discarding the stalky bottom and cutting the remainder into ¼” rounds
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Mix the ricotta, parmesan cheese, flour, egg yolk, and salt. Stir until everything is well combined.
Line a baking tray with one cup of flour. Use a small cookie scoop or spoon to scoop out small, even portions of the dough, about 1 oz each. Lightly dust flour onto your hands and roll into smooth balls. Place the Gnudi onto a lightly floured baking tray, then cover them with the remaining flour sifted on top. Roll the tray lightly, making sure Gnudis’ are evenly coated. Place the tray in a refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the gundis’ shape to set and the “skin” to form. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours or freeze overnight. If freezing overnight, adjust cooking time to 2-4 min more for Gnudi.
When ready to cook, start the sauce. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced strips of prosciutto and allow to sauté lightly for about 1 minute.
Add the chicken stock to the hot pan with the prosciutto, and reduce the liquid to half. Reduce heat to low and start whisking in butter 1 TBLS at a time, creating your sauce. Add in the lemon zest and black pepper. Adjust salt to taste. Turn off the heat. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Shake off the excess flour from the Gnudi, and gently drop the Gnudi balls into the water, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the Gnudi float to the surface.
While Gnudi is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of cooking oil, and sauté asparagus rounds and peas, allowing them to become tender but not overcooked. About 2 min, add sauce to skillet.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked Gnudi to the sauté pan. Toss gently to coat the Gnudi in the sauce.
Serve the Gnudi with a sprinkling of the remaining grated parmesan cheese.
Ten years ago, a few ambitious and possibly crazy friends decided to put their restaurant experience to the test and start a neighborhood spot in one of the most difficult, competitive, and unique cities in America. When Stones Throw opened in Russian Hill, we realized our dream. Little did we know it was just the beginning. We created Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group in 2015 with the opening of our second restaurant, Trestle. We have continued to grow and evolve over the last decade, ultimately ending up in front of you now, with 5 restaurants across the Bay Area and launching our first monthly Hi Neighbor newsletter.
Thank you for being there with us on this journey. We could not be where we are today without you — our loyal supporters. We hope this newsletter keeps you aware of the happenings in our neighborhood and what's on our minds as we reflect on the latest trends in hospitality, in addition to providing you with some fun (and perhaps challenging) recipes and entertaining tips to try out at home!
Each month we will bring you a topic that is top of mind for us as Restaurateurs, Chefs, Sommeliers, or simply SF residents. Today, what continues to cloud my mind is the notion that fine dining, this exciting, enticing, dreamy concept that captivates diners all over the world, is taking the fall for the restaurant industry’s inability to provide a sustainable work environment for employees, guests, and business owners alike.
Recent news that Noma, arguably one of the top restaurants in the world, is closing, and citing that fine dining is not sustainable as the reason, has launched this idea across the nation, and the world, that it is no longer possible in today’s modern era to have a restaurant that is considered fine dining, all the while supporting the goals of employee empowerment, fair wages and benefits for all, practical working schedules, diversity and inclusion, and at the same time be a profitable business venture. For those of us working day in and day out in this industry, we know first-hand the adversity caused by labor shortages, rising cost of living, inflation, product scarcity, residual COVID effects such as lack of tourism, and the list keeps going on and on. (Don’t get me started on Atmospheric Rivers and Cyclone Bombs!) Despite all of this, I don’t believe fine dining is dead, nor is it unsustainable, and most certainly it is not the reason restaurants aren’t equitable in nature compared to operating a business in other industries.
I do think it might be time that we think differently about how we, both those of us in the industry and those of us who are avid consumers and supporters, define what fine dining is. Price doesn’t dictate fine dining. Ambiance doesn’t dictate fine dining. Music, or lack there of doesn’t dictate fine dining. plateware, silverware, glassware, table clothes (even tables, or lack thereof!), uniforms…none of this dictates the fine dining experience. When you truly look at the building blocks of fine dining, it starts with relentless hospitality and undying passion to create a memorable experience for each and every guest. As with everything in life, concepts and social norms evolve and change over time, and fine dining is no different. While guests wants and desires have evolved, and chefs and restaurateurs’ approaches have completely changed, the foundation has remained rock solid…just presented differently.
What used to be described as technically perfect service can now be viewed as pretentious and intrusive. What was once applauded as creativity within pushing boundaries of food has since morphed into the less is more enjoyment of simple, authentic food showcasing heritage vs technique. We see staff who have worked and trained at some of the top restaurants seeking more relaxed environments, music choices, uniforms, but still maintain the ability to provide the same quality of service, food, and hospitality that are not defined by their surroundings. Guests too have impacted change when it comes to defining the idea of fine dining. Many guests today are looking for a comfortable, yet refined atmosphere, showcasing energy and excitement as well authenticity to create a unique and magical experience. They are happy to sacrifice what may have been thought of in the past as luxuries, such as white tablecloths or fancy silverware, and instead demand personable, attentive, customized service, thoughtful, yet instagramable food, and a level of comfort that was often overlooked in the past.
At the same time, we are starting to see the level of business acumen improve and work tangentially with chef’s visions and guests demands. Business decisions are now carefully made to allow for the ‘fine dining sandbox’ to still exist. It may not be as big as it once was, and for everyone to play nicely there will be a little give and take on each side (think limited choices, cancellation fees, service charge included, etc.), but when developed correctly, one can create a restaurant providing world class food, hospitable and technically stellar service, and most importantly, cultivating an experience that leaves the guest fighting to come back. All the while, it is entirely possible to foster an environment that compensates employees well, provides them opportunities for growth, and promotes cultural acceptance and awareness.
The end result? Restaurants like Trestle, Cassava, and Marlena in San Francisco, Sixty Three Clinton and Atoboy in New York, AnnaLena in Vancouver as well as Han Oak in Portland have all re-imagined the idea of fine dining. They are living proof that you can present excellent food and thoughtful, precise service, in an environment that is comfortable and elegant, yet not even charge $100/person. Even better, these restaurants prioritize their employees’ and their guest’s well-being, creating a space to enjoy all of the touches of fine dining hospitality while stripping away the layers of unneeded expense.
Fine dining is definitely not dead, nor unsustainable, it just looks a little different, kind of like society as a whole. While many still believe to create a truly fine dining experience it requires punishing schedules, demoralizing leadership, expectations of perfection and exorbitant prices, I would argue that the people who are passionate about their craft, strategic with their execution, and operate with an equal sense of integrity and ethics for their staff and their guests alike can achieve a level of fine dining and business success anywhere they choose to operate.
When hosting a dinner party where all of my guests don't know each other, I begin by asking each guest to send me 2-3 songs they love, and I curate a special playlist for the evening. Music can often bring people together in better ways than conversation. As their songs play throughout the night, it becomes not only an easy ice-breaker but often a topic of discussion that allows me to get to know my guests more intimately. Here is one of my favorite playlists to help kick off your next gathering.
The Madrigal’s spring menu embraces our well-thought whimsy at Madrigal. We have a variety of presentations and flavors, containing everything from smoked bananas and British biscuits to pea flour fizzles and vanilla vinegar. Spring 2023 is our most cohesive display of what we bring to your table as part of the Hi Neighbor dining experience.