The things you learn in a 75-minute lunch at Café Spiaggia:
-- Spiaggia will be serving decidedly downscale pizza and beer tonight. In the private dining room, that is, for tonight's "Top Chef Masters" viewing party. Twenty bucks. 8:30 p.m. Go and root for Mantuano.
-- Susur Lee, Mantuano's fellow 'Masters' cheftestant, does not own a cell phone, nor does he have an e-mail address. "It's impossible to get a hold of the guy," Mantuano says.
-- Six-year aged balsamico tastes like nectar. (Check back here in a few days for more details on Spiaggia chef di cucina Sarah Grueneberg's scarily vast knowledge of balsamico).
-- Pasta cut using a gold die, a recent find now on the cafe menu, yields a rougher finish, thereby enabling the sauce to adhere better. "And you can charge more," Mantuano chuckles.
Pictured is fusilli with Nichols Farm greens, tomatoes and almonds -- toothsome yet velvety. (And look for more discussion of pasta made using traditional brass dies -- and an equally lovely dish -- in our Low Mileage Kitchen column next Wednesday).