There are restaurants I miss and there are restaurants I MISS.
Casa Christine’s is one I wish I had back.
This gem was on Spruce Street on Federal Hill and run by the Calise family, including father William “Bill” Calise Sr. and sons Bill Calise Jr. and Steven Calise.
My favorite lunch dish was Pasta Erica. I asked them to teach me how to make it at home.
There in the tiny kitchen, 18 years ago, Bill Senior told me he named the Erica sauce after his granddaughter when she was a toddler. She’d be 35 now.
It became the most popular sauce at the restaurant, going from a blackboard special to a menu staple. The most basic dish is Pasta Erica, with penne sauteed and served with the sauce. But the Calises used it for chicken, shrimp or other daily specials.
He used his basic plum tomato sauce for the base and I think that probably made the taste one hard to totally replicate.
But this comes pretty close.
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1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
5 tablespoons butter, divided use
3/4 cup cubed and sauteed pancetta
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup tomato sauce (Sunday gravy or crushed Pastene plum tomatoes)
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano grated cheese
Salt and pepper
Combine finely chopped fresh sage, parsley and garlic.
Slice and cube pancetta bacon and saute in 2 tablespoons butter for 4-5 minutes.
Add sage mix to pan for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Heat 3 tablespoons butter, cream, vodka, crushed tomato or sauce in top pan of double boiler placed over gently boiling water. The water in bottom pan should not actually touch the top pan.
Stir mixture with wooden spoon until it is thick enough to coat wooden spoon about 5-6 minutes. Add pancetta and sage mix and stir together.
Cook pasta according to directions.
Drain and toss with Pecorino grated cheese and Erica sauce in bowl.
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