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Q&A with Chef Tali Missirlian

What is your favorite dish on the menu?

A: Because I can't pick, I have two favorite dishes. I love our Focaccia di Recco — it's crispy, sweet, sour, rich, cheesy, and always leaves our guests wanting to come back for more. This dish is really special to me, it took us a month of trial and error to get it where it is today. It's pretty rare to find this style of focaccia, so make sure you try it next time you're here (and don't forge to add the mortadella!)

I'm also really proud of our Ciuppin, I grew up here in SF and have always been a seafood lover, so while creating this recipe I wanted to make sure it was packed with seafood. We use whole fish and shrimp to create a really rich fish stock as our base and add mussels, clams, shrimp and rock cod to serve. This rich fish stock is what sets this dish apart from the more tomatoey broth of Cioppino. I love that this dish pays homage to both the Ligurian and San Franciscan fisherman who would stew their leftover fish scraps to create something delicious.

How do you find inspiration for new dishes?

I pull a lot of inspiration from what I ate when I was younger. I grew up in an Armenian house, so there were lots of pomegranates, pistachios, persimmons, and other Armenian ingredients on the table. I am always thinking about how I can take those flavors that are so familiar and nostalgic for me and incorporate them into Italian dishes. One of my favorite dishes from childhood is a minced beef dumpling called Manti. In Armenia, we prepare it in a cast iron pan and bake it with butter. It's then dipped in garlic yogurt and served with peppers. 

Fun fact: my grandma would make these for my birthday in school and everyone loved them!