For seventeen years we had a dining out routine.
During the first two weeks of every month, we would go to Il Forniaoacross from the Santa Monica Pier for the Festa Regionale. We would enjoy dishes and wines that celebrated specific culinary regions of Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Piemonte, Umbria, Sicilia, Toscana, Campania, Lombardia, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche.
Antipasti, salads, soups, pastas, risottos, grilled and baked meats and fish, and braises would come to the table flavored by the unique preferences of the region's traditions.
Designed to fight off the cold, Northern Italian dishes had a "rib-sticking" quality, featuring luscious, thick sauces and soups topped with croutons and cheese. From t…