We don’t think of “comfort food” and “fine dining” as categories that overlap, but it happens more often than you’d expect when it comes to Italian cuisine. We think this is because most of our favorite Italian dishes are steeped in tradition and bring back warm family memories. Even people who don’t have any Italian heritage still find comfort in our food. Perhaps they can sense the tradition.
While many dishes bridge the gap between fine dining and comfort food, there are none quite like chicken marsala. Thin chicken cutlets dredged in flour and sautéed with butter, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. It’s hard to resist.
But how did this meal become a staple of both Italian fine dining establishments and comfort food menus? Let’s take a look at the history.
Origins in Sicily
The key to chicken marsala is Marsala wine, a fortified wine made in Sicily. On the western coast of the island lies the town of Marsala, the home of this all-important wine. As far as we know, this wine was first produced sometime in the 18th century and quickly spread throughout the rest of Italy and Europe.
Some stories of the origin of chicken marsala involve French families who fled to Sicily during the Napoleonic wars. They asked local chefs to recreate French country cooking. Chicken marsala was what they came up with, and it became a regional specialty.
An American Creation
Many of the staple Italian dishes that we enjoy today are actually Italian-American creations, including chicken marsala. When Italian immigrants came to the United States, they brought their culinary traditions with them. A majority of the immigrants were Sicilian, and they cooked with the flavors of home. Using what ingredients they could find in the States, they reproduced their regional dishes. The result was a list of Italian-American favorites, including chicken marsala.
Enjoy Your Favorites and a Fine Dining Experience at Lo Conte’s
At Lo Conte’s, we bring our traditional Italian dishes into the world of fine dining for you to enjoy. Looking down our menu, you may see meals you’ve made yourself or are staples in your family. And while we love some good home cooking, we’ve elevated our traditional favorites.