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New regional Italian dishes inspired by chef’s childhood in northern Italy

ST. THOMAS, U.S.V.I. (FEB. 28, 2017) The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas is proud to introduce Chef Massimiliano Gallinoni as chef de cuisine in Essenza, the resort’s Italian restaurant, as well as a completely revamped menu made up of items inspired by his childhood in the Italian countryside. “I’m so proud to bring a version of my Italy to our guests in St. Thomas,” said Chef Massimiliano. “My goal is to offer tastes that guests will not get at home, or anywhere outside of Italy itself.” Some of the new menu items are highlighted below.

House-made ricotta

Chef Massimiliano prides himself on his creamy house-made ricotta made with lemon zest, fresh basil or cracked pepper, topped with olive oil and served on crispy crostini. “Fresh cheese is very traditional,” said Chef Massimiliano. “If you go to Orvieto, where I grew up, and ask for an appetizer, this is what you’ll receive. Its simplicity makes it perfect.”

Octopus carpaccio

Octopus is popular in Italy’s coastal regions, and Chef Massimiliano pays homage to this part of his homeland with his signature octopus carpaccio. He boils Spanish octopus with white wine, lemon, celery, carrots and stock, then presses it, slices it thinly and serves with fresh fennel salad, citrus and olive oil. “I was inspired to create this carpaccio in Cinque Terre, a set of five picturesque hilltop towns on Italy’s west coast. It’s fresh and colorful, and is one of the dishes I’m most proud to serve.”

Fettucine al coninglio (fettuccini with braised rabbit ragout)

Chef Massimiliano uses very traditional preparation for this staple dish of his country home, using garlic and red wine to braise the fresh rabbit meat. Freshly made fettuccini adds to the rustic quality of the dish. “This was a typical dish in my home, using wild rabbits that wander the hills around Orvieto. This version has a very deep flavor profile, and pairs perfectly with a robust Italian red wine.”

House-made limoncello

Chef Massimiliano also makes his own limoncello, a treat for guests in Essenza to enjoy as an aperitif or digestif. “The trick is in leaving the peels to soak in the vodka for at least two months. This adds color, sweetness and the fresh citrus flavor that is so delicious in limoncello.”

About Essenza

Essenza invites guests to capture Italy’s best with handcrafted, authentic Italian dishes, crafted and served to feel like home. Whether it’s a dish featuring locally sourced seafood or prosciutto imported directly from Parma, Essenza offers rustic, traditional Italian fare in the exquisite bar, dining room or terrace with panoramic views of Great Bay and neighboring St. John.

For more information or to request a reservation, please call 340-775-3333 or visit