Just One Bite: 13 Gypsies Risotto
One of the best dishes I’ve tried lately came during a business meeting at 13 Gypsies. I admit that at first I was skeptical. The Man lived in that neighborhood when I met him, just down the street at the corner of Myra and Stockton. Ten years ago, we called that the corner of Crack & Pipe. However, a tiny resurgent pocket of beautiful resistance is forming on Stockton Street between College and Myra. 13 Gypsies seems to be leading that charge into renewal.
The restaurant itself is a tiny jewel box of loveliness. It has a cozy atmosphere, but is not oppressive. The dining room is well decorated and relaxed. I was especially impressed with such a small space being so comfortable and never cramped.
13 Gypsies is all about real food. You won’t find fusion or contemporary experimental food there. It features traditional handcrafted ingredients with a healthy helping of family heritage. They make their own bread, cheeses, sausage, cured meats and crème fraiche whenever possible. Those facts alone set it apart from other places in town, but I’m going to tell you about just one dish – the Risotto Del Dia (risotto of the day). The day we were there it was Bacon Parmesan Risotto.
It was perfectly cooked al dente, creamy and delicious. The little bits of rice had been lovingly caressed into creamy pearls of tasty goodness. The bacon and Parmesan flavors had been infused so perfectly and completely that they filled up every sense with their essence. You don’t just taste this dish, you smell it and feel it as much as taste it. If I sound like I’m writing a love letter, it’s because I am. I would be unsurprised to find out there was a little magic involved in the stirring of that pot. This is one of those rare dishes that you continue to think about long after the meal has ended.
I was lucky enough to speak with the chef about the dish. He said that the risotto of the day changes often. The variety sounded amazing - surf and turf, smoked ham risotto topped with seared scallops, beef & red wine and pork belly were mentioned as some of the variations. (Price is market dependent.) The Bacon Parmesan I had was hands down the best I’ve had in the city. I would guess that you just can’t go wrong.
13 Gypsies is located at 887 Stockton Street in Jacksonville, Florida. There are only 7 tables and the restaurant seats 18 people at maximum capacity, so reservations are a must. Visit the website at http://www.13gypsies.com/ and see the chef’s blog at http://13gypsies.com/blog1/ – he has some glorious details about risotto, handcrafted cheese and cured meats!
Give them a call at 389-0330 to make a reservation and find out which risotto you’ll get to enjoy!
Special thanks to Cari of cari-vicarious.com for the risotto image! Woot!