You know that summer is at its peak when it’s so unforgivingly hot that you’re tempted to simply live in front of an the open refrigerator door and live off of fruit and chilled white wine until autumn rolls around. However, at Salute, we’d like to offer a compelling reason to drag yourself out of the house: namely, our cooling and delicious new summer menu feature, beef carpaccio (but PS, we do have air conditioning and patio misters, too).
Beef carpaccio is an Italian classic: an intensely flavorful dish made with seasoned chilled beef slices and cooling garnishes which is served as an appetizer. It’s a dish that can offer a wonderful cooling effect but still boasts plenty of flavor during those steamy summer days. Here, we’ll take some time to introduce you to this incredible dish, including offering an explanation of what it is, how it’s made, and (important) what you should drink with it!
What is beef carpaccio? Beef carpaccio, or carpaccio de ternera in Italian, is a dish made from raw (don’t panic; we’ll explain further in a moment) chilled beef which is sliced or pounded to the point of being translucently-thin. The slices are coated with olive oil and an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice. While beef is the standard protein for this carpaccio preparation, it is not uncommon to see this method applied to other types of meat and fish, notably tuna carpaccio, which is also quite popular.
At Salute, our beef carpaccio is served with shaved baby artichoke insalata, salty parmigiano, and an incredible and robustly flavored black garlic aioli. To say it’s unlike anything else would be an understatement. Rich, salty, smoky, bright, and with just a touch of umami, this is a crave-worthy dish which is perfectly suited to sharing with friends as an appetizer over drinks before enjoying the dinner offerings from our menu, including Italian pasta dishes, pizzas, and so much more.
Is beef carpaccio safe to eat? Are you still reeling from the fact that the beef is uncooked? Take a deep breath and let’s discuss. It is important to offer the disclaimer that “consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs, may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions”–you’ll see this phrase on most restaurant menus that serve meat or eggs, whether cooked or not. However, this doesn’t mean that beef carpaccio is unsafe.
As noted above, beef carpaccio is prepared with some sort of acidic ingredient such as lemon juice. This acidic ingredient actually coagulates the protein in the beef, which in a way acts to “cook” or cure it, rendering it safe for consumption. If you’ve ever heard of the seafood dish called ceviche, it’s not incredibly different in the regard that an acidic ingredient is used to “cook” the protein, rather than baking or frying it. Of course, with a dish like beef carpaccio, it’s important to use a high quality beef to further ensure food safety.
Where does it come from? What we call beef carpaccio is likely adapted from a Piedmontese specialty known as carne cruda all’Albese, which is an appetizer made using uncooked beef slices combined with lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings.
Beef carpaccio as we know it is said to have been created in the early 1950s by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. As the story goes, a visiting countess had recently been prescribed raw meat as a curative; wanting to accommodate his customer, Cipriani created this no-cook dish. As legend goes, the bright red and white hues of the fresh meat used to make the dish called to mind the work of Italian painter Vittore Carpaccio, and therefore the dish was named after him.
How beef carpaccio became an international sensation. So how did beef carpaccio go from a restaurant special in Italy to international food sensation? To understand that, it’s important to consider the restaurant at which it was created.
Harry’s Bar is an interesting spot. It’s named after Harry Pickering, a young rich fellow from Boston. He had been sent to Italy to effectively “dry out” his drinking problems; failing miserably, his family cut him off financially.
Giuseppe Cipriani, who was at the time a barman, loaned the young man some money to get by. A few years later, the young man returned to pay Cipriani back, but also gave him a big bonus: enough to open a bar, which was named “Harry’s” in the young man’s honor.
Harry’s became a favorite among artistic types, and through the years boasted such customers as Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, Truman Capote, and Orson Welles, as well as countless other actors, writers, artists, socialites, and even royalty. Because of its well-heeled clientele, the offerings of Harry’s were often imitated by other restaurants; it’s likely that other restaurants copying the popular menu contributed to beef carpaccio’s increased popularity in Italy and beyond.
Why is beef carpaccio the ultimate summer appetizer? Well, this isn’t a complicated question to answer! Made with fine quality beef and thoughtful seasonings and accompaniments, beef carpaccio is an elegant and cooling dish that is bursting with flavor. You can really taste the essence of the beef in a way that you don’t necessarily get to when the meat is cooked to over-medium; it’s simply an exquisite experience.
What should I drink with beef carpaccio? They say that there are no good and bad questions. But there are great questions, and this is one of them: what should you drink along with your beef carpaccio?
In terms of wine, different rules apply to this uncooked beef as opposed to cooked beef or a steak. A lighter bodied wine such as a pinot noir is a great fit, or a bright rose could add a bit of contrast. Bubbles, whether prosecco, sparkling wine, or champagne, also go well with it (but then again, what don’t they go with?). Be sure to ask your server for suggestions from our drink menu.
Beef carpaccio is a unique dish, and well worth a try if you’ve never had it before. It’s the essence of summer on a plate: simple, high quality ingredients which are handled as little as possible, so that you can enjoy the true and simple flavors of each component. Enjoy it at our beloved Red Rock Italian Restaurant all summer long!
Have you ever tried beef carpaccio?