Upon first glance of the photo to left here, you might think that Osteria chef Jeff Michaud and his counterpart at Amis, Brad Spence are having a Breaking Bad moment. Fear not, these guys are not cooking meth. Rather, the picture shows the two making pretzels for an exclusive dinner they hosted Monday night at Amis to preview some of the dishes that will be featured at Alla Spina, the Vetri family’s Italian gastropub that’s opening next door to Stephen Starr’s Route 6 up on North Broad Street. The gloves and masks? That’s to protect against the caustic nature of the lye the pretzels are treated with prior to going in the oven. “The lye gives them that nice crust,” Michaud told Grub Street. “Without that, they don’t get that nice sheen.”
“It’s dangerous stuff,” Michaud said. “If it gets on your skin, it will burn it.”
He adds that he learned the technique in school, and recently began experimenting with it again while developing dishes for the forthcoming gastropub, which is on track to open sometime in the first week of February. The preview dinner was offered to Rue La La members and, as you might expect, it sold out almost as fast as tickets for the upcoming Jeff Mangum gig at Union Transfer.
In addition to the pretzels, dishes served included Hefeweizen beer clams; broiled oysters with asiago cheese; polenta stuffed taleggio; a Mortadella hot dog and more. You can check out most of the dishes served on bossman Marc Vetri’s Twitter feed.