Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge | Dallas
By Patricia Fitzgerald
May 12, 2022
The past two-plus years have proven that necessity is indeed the mother of invention, or in this case, menu innovation. In 2020, when Frank Pullara, Executive Chef and Owner of Culaccino, prepared to open this family-style rustic Italian concept, he struggled with sourcing quality artichokes for a dish planned for the appetizer menu. “For some reason, I thought of the asparagus fritters made by my mom, nonna and great nonna,” says Pullara. He added this starter at the last minute, chopping and mixing all the ingredients—asparagus, scallion, mint, basil, lemon zest, pecorino, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper—then sautéing in extra-virgin olive oil. “And ever since, it’s been one of our top-selling appetizers.”
Pullara credits the success of the Asparagus Fritters shareable to its visually appealing presentation and its unique, craveable taste. “These little bites are packed with so much flavor, especially in spring when asparagus is in peak season,” he says, pointing to the mild, earthy notes of the vegetable, the salt of the accompanying pecorino, the bright acidity of the lemon zest, and the pungent flavors of aromatic herbs and a saffron aïoli. The creamy and decadent filling is enveloped in a crispy, delicate batter. “You can’t stop at just one bite,” says Pullara. “It’s become a guest favorite that will never come off the menu.”
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