In Göttingen, where they say that the most proper German is spoken, there is a really lovely Italian restaurant called Ristorante Rimini. It has been my husband’s favourite restaurant since he was a student. Back in the day one of his best friends lived across the street, and since the food was both delicious and the beer cheap, their group of friends spent many long evenings playing card games there.
It was probably during one of these evenings that they coined their own nickname for the place: Prego. “Prego” means “You’re welcome” or “there you go” in Italian and waiters at Italian restaurants use it all the time – so I think it’s a bit silly, but even I call the place “Prego” rather than by its original name.
Prego is a popular restaurant around town and I really love that their waiters (and the cook, I assume) have been working there forever. I went there short of ten years and was unable to notice any significant staff changes. I think this speaks highly of the management and their business in general. After we met, my often took me to eat Prego’s Spaghetti á la Norma and whenever we were visiting his parents in Kassel (one town over), and had time, we would stop-by for a quiet and romantic dinner for hands down the best Spaghetti á la Norma (spaghetti in a tomato sauce with eggplant pieces and grated goat cheese) I’ve ever had. They serve it with a rich, incredibly red tomato sauce that tastes just as if they had made it themselves, spaghetti cooked just to the point and four halves of pan-fried eggplant slices coated in bread crumbs. It’s a heavy dish, and my husband always has to finish it for me.
Of course, eating there is now a thing of the past, but I can always reminisce – and recreate their dishes in a gluten-free version in my kitchen. My second favorite thing to eat there were their deep-fried artichoke nuggets. This past fall I was really craving them, so I made some.
They are really easy to make, requiring only five ingredients: one jar of artichokes (not the oily ones with spices, you need the ones in water), a bit of salt, one egg and gluten-free polenta and a generous amount of oil. Drain the artichokes from their water. Place the polenta into a bowl, salt lightly. In a second bowl, gently whisk the egg in a second bowl. One by one dip the artichokes into the egg, then cover entirely with polenta. Repeat until all artichokes have been used up. In a small pot, heat up a good amount of olive oil. Fry a few of the artichokes until golden brown. Let drain on a paper napkin.
Eat while still hot. At Prego, they serve these with a dip, but I happily eat them plain.