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Washington-area Italian restaurant has ‘a nod to Jewish heritage’

Aventino is a “celebration of Roman Jewish food,” according to Tom Sietsema of “The Washington Post.”

Aventino Cucina in Bethesda, Md. Source: Google Street View.
Aventino Cucina in Bethesda, Md. Source: Google Street View.

Announcing its opening in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 31, Aventino Cucina noted its “flavors of traditional Roman cuisine with a nod to Jewish heritage.”

The nod made it into the headline of Tom Sietsema’s review in The Washington Post on Friday: “From the owners of the Red Hen, a celebration of Roman Jewish food.”

In the new eatery, chef Mike Friedman has “a homecoming” that “allows him to explore his Jewish roots as never before,” according to Sietsema, who writes that Friedman grew up Jewish in a New Jersey Italian community.

“Close-knit cultures,” Friedman told the Post, “but they didn’t touch. In Rome, they touch.”

“Aventino takes its name from one of the famed seven hills in ancient Rome and considers the diet, including offal (off-cuts and organ meats) of the Jews forced to live in the city’s ghetto,” Sietsema wrote. (The restaurant, which serves pork, is not kosher.)

“This slice of history plays out in the risotto fritters, or suppli, which contain the expected stretchy mozzarella and rice, but also minced chicken livers, which impart a pleasant mineral taste,” he wrote.

“Friedman and team know part of the magic behind Italian cooking is less, not more,” Sietsema added. “What seems elemental can be deceiving.”

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