Tim love debuts ‘ufficio’ italian pop-up dinner (updated with video) _ the star-telegram

A few weeks ago, Fort Worth chef Tim Love announced Ufficio, a pop-up Italian restaurant that would only be open Jan. Jennie o sweet italian turkey sausage recipes 27 through the 30 at his Test Kitchen just north of downtown Fort Worth.

Wednesday brought the debut of Ufficio, in which Love and a small culinary crew did a six-course Italian meal for diners who paid $85 plus tax and tip to check out what Love — who’s best-known for southwestern, or “urban Western,” cuisine — could do with an Italian menu.

This was the first in a series of pop-ups, each of which will focus on a different cuisine and culture. Recipe for homemade italian sausage Love said he’s not ready to reveal what the other cuisines are yet, and even he doesn’t quite know when the next round of pop-ups will be — it depends on when he can fit them into his busy schedule.

Love — who tapes his CNBC show Restaurant Startup in Los Angeles, has launched a Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Austin and is getting ready to open one in Knoxville, and is involved in the Austin Food and Wine Festival — has taken some heat for being so active in cities that aren’t Fort Worth. Johnsonville mild italian sausage recipe But he says he’s in Fort Worth and at his restaurants more than a lot of people realize, he’s just not always visible out front.

He was certainly visible Wednesday night, cooking with his vice president of culinary Rob Luna and catering chefs Casey Jackson and Daniel Rios in an open kitchen — and although the Test Kitchen, upstairs in an otherwise modest-looking building between downtown Fort Worth and the Stockyards, has a dining-room section, the best seats in the house were the stools looking right into the kitchen, so close that you could feel the heat from the gas flames on the stove.

Besides the menu, diners received a sheet explaining the roots of Ufficio and why Love chose to do an Italian dinner. Italian sausage rigatoni recipe Seventeen years ago to the day, Love and his wife Emilie were on a honeymoon trip to Tuscany, even though they didn’t have much money, fulfilling a dream of eating and drinking their way through the countryside.

“I had no idea Italy would make such an indelible impression on me and provide some of my most cherished memories,” Love wrote. Spaghetti with italian sausage recipe “Not only does it remind me of that special time when my wife and I first started to explore the world together, but the people and food continue to inspire me professionally.”

Ufficio is Love’s interpretation of all those memories. Italian sausage spices recipe Four of the courses had options for diners to choose from; all the diners got everything on the “fettine” course and the dessert course.

We started with escolar — a type of snake mackerel that can have, um, some interesting side effects, although we had no problems, perhaps because it was served in a small portion. Italian sausage soup recipes olive garden It was accompanied by margarita ice, chilies and small cubes of diced avocado. Mild italian sausage recipe The server recommended getting everything in one bite, which resulted in a quick wave of flavors: the citrrus from the ice, giving way to the delicately seafoody taste of the fish, with the heat from the chilies sneaking up afterward, and the avocado providing cool smoothness.

Our antipasti choice, crispy cauliflower with white truffle fondue, was one of the few vegetarian options on the menu — and it did everything it could to upstage the meat. Italian sausage stew recipe We went for it at Love’s recommendation, and the cauliflower lived up to its billing, with a marvelous roasted crunch that was still very different from eating it raw. Italian sausage seasoning blend recipe The fondue added some extra flavor, but the cauliflower really didn’t need any help.

Love’s version of fettine consisted of small, rolled-flat medallions with combinations of meats and herbs or fruits: an elk-pork with blueberry, a game-bird/rabbit sausage with quince, quail-lamb with Texas herbs. Ground pork italian sausage recipe All were delicate, meaty bites that led to the next stage of the meal, in this case mezzalune with cannellini beans and pheasant sausage. Italian sausage potato soup recipe The soft textures of the pasta’s filling contrasted nicely with the meat, which had a mild spiciness.

Next came grilled lamb chops with gnocco alla Romano, and while the lamb was good, the gnocco — three soft discs that Love accurately described as “like a polenta custard” — was the star of the dish, and it made for pleasing mouthfuls when paired with bites of the lamb.

It was a rich dish, and by the time the dolce course came, it was a little tough to make room for dessert, which came in the form of a buttersctoch budino with salted caramel, a small cookie and vanilla ice cream served affogato style, with coffee poured over it. Italian pork sausage pasta recipe A selection of cocktails and wines were served throughout the meal, but the best drink was the concluding Montenegro Amaro, an Italian liqueur that had a bracing dusky-sweet kick.

Love will continue the Ufficio dinners through Saturday. Italian sausage and pasta recipe Other dinners are to be determined; for updates, check out http://timlovecatering.com/test-kitchen