The Chef’s Take: Dave Pasternack’s Roasted Funghi with Herbed Goat Cheese at Barchetta

Dave Pasternack is cooking up seafood and mushrooms at Barchetta.

Dave Pasternack must have seawater in his veins. When he’s not facing the stove, he’s on the open water, fishing rod in hand, mining the ocean for its finest creatures. His passion as a fisherman and a chef earned him the title “the fish whisperer” from Frank Bruni.

It’s no surprise that at his newest restaurant, Barchetta — Italian for “little boat” — seafood is once again hoisted to center stage. It’s here that freshness reigns, whether it’s a just-caught halibut from the Pacific, flown in a few hours before dinner, or a local striped bass caught by Pasternack himself.

While it’s easy to get lost in a flurry of fresh crudos and whole fish, you could also be just as happy tucking into a plate of roasted funghi with goat cheese and balsamic, a staple during Barchetta’s brunch. “Barchetta needs to appeal to a very ‘neighborhoody’ clientele,” said Pasternack. “The menu needs to be accessible. We’ll always be a seafood restaurant — that’s what we do — but the menu is entwined with interesting meats and vegetables too, not just fish.”

Pasternack reached for mushrooms on a cold winter’s day when he needed to spice up the menu with some variety. “There’s so much stuff that’s frozen right now; it can be tough for us in the seafood business when it gets really cold outside! So I improvised, combining the fresh ingredients I had on hand to make the dish,” he said. “Today, people want to eat healthy, so I always keep healthful eating in mind and make sure to incorporate lots of veggies year round. We really take healthy eating to heart.”

Roasted Funghi with Goat Cheese
Serves 4
For the mushrooms:

20 ounces wild mushrooms (such as shitakes, chanterelles, black trumpet, oysters) cleaned and trimmed

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the goat cheese:
10.5 ounces fresh goat cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For garnish:
Freshly grated Parmesan
Balsamic vinegar, aged if possible
Chopped parsley

In a large saute pan, heat the 4 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic until you are able to smell the garlic (but it is not browning). Add the mushrooms in a single layer with the rosemary and season with salt and pepper. If your saute pan is not big enough, you will need to work in batches. It is important not to overcrowd the pan or the mushrooms will steam and not brown.

Allow the mushrooms to cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, and remove to a plate to cool. Add lemon juice.

In a food processor, combine goat cheese, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and process until the goat cheese is smooth and spreadable. You may need a little water, depending on the consistency of your cheese.

Preheat your broiler. On 4 ovenproof plates, divide the goat cheese and top with the cooked mushrooms.

Generously cover with grated Parmesan and place under the broiler to brown the Parmesan. Remove from the broiler (plates are hot!), sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with aged balsamic.

Serve immediately.

Note: If you cannot find wild mushrooms, cremini or portbellos can be substituted. The creminis should be cut in half, and the portobellos sliced about 1/2 inch thick.

Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Edible Brooklyn. She's probably best known as the creator of The Strong Buzz, her food blog about New York City restaurants. She lives in Queens with her two kids, her husband and her big appetite.

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