Local Italian restaurants band together to support earthquake relief efforts

Amatriciana, which is one of Italy's favourite pasta sauces, is made with tomatoes, onions, chilli and guanciale (cured pig jowl).
Amatriciana, which is one of Italy's favourite pasta sauces, is made with tomatoes, onions, chilli and guanciale (cured pig jowl).PHOTO: GARIBALDI ITALIAN RESTAURANT & BAR

For every plate of Amatriciana pasta sold, part of the proceeds will go towards helping those affected by the earthquake that struck Italy last week

Italian chefs, restaurateurs and individuals are pitching in to support relief efforts following a 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy in the pre-dawn hours of Aug 24.

So far, about 300 people have died in the devastating earthquake.

The worst hit is Amatrice, a hilltop town famed as the home of Amatriciana, one of Italy's favourite pasta sauces. It is made with tomatoes, onions, chilli and guanciale (cured pig jowl).

The historical centre, with a population of about 2,500, was almost flattened by the quake.

News of the town's plight has spurred the Italian Association of Singapore and Gruppo Virtuale Cuochi Italiani (a worldwide network of Italian chefs) to co-organise a fund-raising initiative called A Pasta For Amatrice.

Part of the proceeds from every plate of pasta Amatriciana sold at participating restaurants between Aug 25 and Sept 25 will go towards helping those affected by the disaster.

 

Eight Italian restaurants - Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar in Purvis Street, Ricciotti in Upper Circular Road, inItaly in Craig Road, Rosso Vino in Merbau Road, PastAmore in Rochester Drive, Sapore Italiano in National University of Singapore's University Town, L'Operetta Corner Bar in Boon Tat Street and Vita Italiana in Mosque Street - are on board.

Ricciotti's pasta Amatriciana costs $25++ a plate, and $20 will be donated. Garibaldi's version costs $36 a plate, of which $18 will be donated.

Garibaldi's owner and executive chef Roberto Galetti says the restaurant may decide to donate the entire $36 a plate to charity, if it raises less than $2,000 at the end of this initiative.

"We all know that being there right now helping to move concrete and bricks to save lives could be the best help. Unfortunately, being so far from our beloved Italy, we thought this was the best way to help as much as we can," he says.

According to the Facebook event page for A Pasta For Amatrice, 60 plates of Amatriciana pasta have been sold by the restaurants in the past four days.

The president of the Italian Association of Singapore, Mr Omar Bassalti, says the funds collected will be used to buy materials for the re-building efforts, with the help of local contacts.

"We have gathered many times in our lives to eat Amatriciana pasta, thanks to the tradition of that little town. Now, it is time to help them," he says.

He hopes to raise €5,000 ($7,606) from the initiative.

Mr Daniel Chia, president of non-profit organisation Slow Food (Singapore), the Singapore branch of the Slow Food International Association in Italy, will also be hosting an event in his home on Sunday in support of the earthquake relief efforts.

The association was founded in 1989 by Italian journalist Carlo Petrini and is a movement that opposes fast food. It is dedicated to preserving heritage dishes and ingredients, celebrating food culture and traditions, protecting food biodiversity and promoting responsible food consumption.

Mr Chia's event is called A Plate Of Pasta For Amatrice. He will cook and serve pasta Amatriciana to up to 32 guests, across four seatings on the same day. The event will be held at his two-bedroom flat in central Singapore.

He has about a dozen diners confirmed.

There is no fixed price, as "donations are based on the generosity of each donor", he says.

He hopes to raise about €1,000 and intends to transfer all the proceeds to the town's bank.

"My favourite pasta when I was in my 20s was the penne Amatriciana. I hope people will like my version of the dish," he says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Pasta for quake relief'. Print Edition | Subscribe