News & Politics

Either/Or: Gabriele Paganelli

The chef at the new M Cafe and Famoso reveals himself.

Toronto’s Gabriele Paganelli will be joining the stampede of commuting chefs when M Cafe and Famoso Restaurant open in July at Max Mara in Chevy Chase.

As at his Toronto eatery, Paganelli will focus on the food of his native Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy—timbales of pecorino di fossa (a sheep’s-milk cheese aged in a rock cave), cream-of-artichoke soup, chestnut-flour tagliatelle with guinea-fowl ragoût and seared tuna crusted with salmoriglio (olive oil, herbs, and garlic) bread crumbs.

M Cafe, the more casual espresso/wine bar/cafe, will be open all day and serve prosciutto-stuffed cornetti (Italy’s doughier take on the croissant), pizzas, salumi, and Tuscan classics like vitello tonnato.

An amused Paganelli recently submitted to our Either/Or questionnaire.

Fresh or dried pasta?

Fresh. My mother and grandmother used to make it every day. There isn’t a single dish with dried pasta on my menu.

Barolo or Bordeaux?

Barolo, because it’s Italian, though I understand it all started in France.

Mountains or beach?

I was born a kilometer from the seashore [Ravenna], and my parents used to send me to the Italian Alps in the summer, so I’d have to say both.

Sailing or skiing?

Skiing is more fun. If you don’t have good company and you’re out at sea all day, sailing could get boring.

Prada or Armani?

Armani is more serious, but Prada is youthful.

Roberto Benigni or Marcello Mastroianni?

Benigni, because he turns the serious into fun.

Celine Dion or Madonna?

Madonna, because she’s Italian-American and a little crazy.

Hockey or soccer?

Soccer—even with the big scandal.

Sophia Loren or Isabella Rossellini?

Sophia. She is very, very warm.

TV or DVD?

TV. When I get home at midnight I watch sports—soccer, motorcycle and car racing—to calm down and fall asleep.

Hamburger or steak?

Steak because it’s more natural.

Pappardelle or linguine?

Pappardelle. It’s a large noodle, and it absorbs so much more sauce.

Chocolate or gianduja gelato?

Gianduja, because there’s chocolate and hazelnut. It’s much more interesting because your palate gets to taste both the chocolate and hazelnut.

Espresso or Fernet Branca?

Espresso, unless I need the Fernet.

Domino’s or Pizza Hut?

[Laughs] M Cafe.

Tiramisu or blueberry pie?

It depends on who’s making it.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.