Walking into Donatella Arpaia’s New York City restaurant, Donatella, is like walking into your Italian grandmother’s kitchen. There are few restaurants in New York that can truly make us feel like we’re at home, but this is one of them. Then again, it could be Arpaia's own warmth.
At a small event showcasing Keurig Rivo’s new Cappuccino & Latte System, Arpaia walked gingerly from party attendee to party attendee and not only shared holiday entertaining tips, but also tidbits about the creation of her restaurant's menu. She described the development of her eggplant Parmesan, which she lovingly calls "melanzane," the Italian word for "eggplant." Arpaia explained it took endless tries, and she wouldn’t settle until the dish tasted just like her grandmother’s. Finally, when her sous chef put a plate before her after a particularly rough day, Arpaia claims she cried. "But I think one should cry over good eggplant Parm," she told us.
The dinner was served family-style with appetizers of braised veal meatballs, eggplant Parmesan, and fried calamari. These were followed by entrées of delicious assorted artisanal pizzas, homemade pappardelle with spicy pork braised ragù, and grilled salmon with baby spinach and preserved lemon vinaigrette. But the real reason we were there was to try the amazing desserts that Arpaia had paired with different cappuccino, latte, and espresso drinks that were easily made with Keurig’s new system.
Keurig partnered with Lavazza to specially craft their espresso blends to appeal to the North American profile. This was carried out by consumer taste testing at Universal Studios over the course of the product development of two years. The result is four wonderfully crafted flavors that Arpaia paired with four different desserts. Beginning with a cannoli dipped in pistachios that paired wonderfully with a vanilla cappuccino made with Delicato espresso. The combination was surreal — the ricotta cheese was a match made in dairy heaven with the vanilla cappuccino. Next was an affogato with chocolate hazelnut biscotti that was brought out with an intense espresso shot, but the bitterness of the espresso was mellowed out by the hazelnut in the biscotti. Dipping the biscotti in the espresso added a whole new flavor combination the guests couldn't get over. We were then introduced to Arpaia's apple crostata with cider caramel paired with a caramel iced latte with intense espresso. With Keurig's new system, the agitator only mixes the milk, which allows for a simply made iced coffee drink. Next was the robiolina panna cotta with honey and figs that Arpaia matched with a Classico espresso shot. And the crème de la crème was a tiramisu with a latte made with Classico espresso.
Keurig’s new Cappuccino & Latte System is invaluable to the avid coffee consumer. The amount of money you could save on Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts trips could amount to thousands once you get your hands on the machine. And with dessert pairings like these, there’s no telling how far the machine could take you. Even Arpaia herself pointed out "that Keurig Rivo reminded me how much I loved affogato!"