Suzette Gresham, co-owner/executive chef
Acquerello (address and info)
San Francisco, CA
"With all due respect to the lasagna lovers out there, this isn't the only baked and layered pasta dish in Italy. In fact, it has become quite American. The variations are endless, and, okay, I love it too. But I think we should use this dish as a springboard towards other dishes."
"While not a common term here, timballo is a favorite all over Italy. It’s similar to lasagna, but it's much more complicated than that. In particular, timballo al' termano has 16 layers of paper thin crespelle (crepes). Each layer is dressed with a fresh tomato-vegetable sugo, fresh mozzarella, grated Parmesan cheese, and painfully small meatballs made of veal and pork. If I hadn't watched an Italian family from Abruzzo make it, I might not have believed it myself. But I can tell you, the mere mention of its name now has me salivating."
Filippo Gozzoli, chef
A Voce Columbus (address and info)
New York, NY
Overrated: Traditional meatballs
"Meaning the ones made with ground beef and pork. They've become the most common and popular in America."
Underrated: Mondeghili meatballs
"Originally from Milan, these meatballs are made with mortadella, ground pork and ground beef, Parmesan, parsley, and breadcrumbs -- and then they're deep-fried. The addition of mortadella to the meatballs makes them very tender, and deep-frying them creates a crispy exterior. They are best when served with a spicy tomato sauce."