Creamy arborio rice that’s meticulously hand-stirred with broth, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano until it reaches creamy perfection can be the highpoint of any meal. So, when chefs experiment with risotto add-ins, a northern Italian staple is taken to new heights with varied menu options. In recent years, risotto has witnessed a resurgence in popularity thanks to TV shows such as “Hell’s Kitchen” and the fact that the rice-based dish is a delicious gluten-free alternative to pasta—provided yeast-free broth and other gluten-free ingredients are used. Chefs are now using risotto as a delicious backdrop for interesting and locally sourced ingredients on menus across the country.
Chicagoans love a warm and hearty meal, so it’s no surprise to find a risotto that will put meat on your bones at Chicago’s Osteria Via Stato. Chef David DiGregorio tops decadent risotto with short ribs before crowning it with a Slagel Family Farm egg.
They say everything is better with bacon. At Bistango Restaurant in Irvine, California, bacon-wrapped prawns, sweet white corn, chives, and rosemary white balsamic highlight the restaurant’s risotto offering.
The northeast is known for lobster, so, of course, Maine lobster risotto is carried at all five locations of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Massachusetts. Accompanying the succulent lobster is asparagus, lobster cream and fresh herbs.
For a bit of sweet and savory, Risotteria Melotti in New York City blends risotto with homemade fig jam and Grana Padano PDO cheese before wrapping the risotto gift in Parma prosciutto.
In Philadelphia, Amis Trattoria has taken a note from the squid ink pasta menu and brought it to risotto. The dark risotto finds its freshness and light with crab, Meyer lemon, and chili.