Chef Dinner Series at Thompson Savannah presents Tuscan cuisine pop-up

“We tossed around a few different ideas for the name of the pop-up, and we settled on Effimero,” explained Thompson Savannah executive sous chef Cameron Dempsey.

On Tuesday, June 18, Fleeting will turn into a trattoria as Dempsey and his team serve a three-course á la carte menu that unites the foods of rustic Tuscany and the American Southern coast at the boutique Eastern Wharf property’s rez-de-chaussée restaurant.

Italian for ‘ephemeral,’ Effimero is an intentional play on the host restaurant’s moniker.

“We lean into the idea of a ‘fleeting experience,’ only temporary, because we change the menu quite often,” said the chef who has been in charge of creating the entire Fleeting carte for about the past year now, “though this is the first time I’ve taken on an out-of-the-ordinary pop-up.”

Seatings are available from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on June 18, and Dempsey anticipates capping capacity for 160 covers in what promises to be a big night.

PASTA PREMIERE

By design, Effimero is both summer promotional event dining and testing the salted boiling water to see the offered fare folks favor of what Dempsey said are “fairly popular Tuscan dishes.”

“Eventually, what we want to do is have a pasta hour for Fleeting,” he added. “Basically, in the first hour of service, you’d be able to come in and get a bowl of pasta, a glass of wine, and an affogato for 40 dollars.”

This occasion’s menù autentico, comprising a half-dozen salads + snacks, the same number of pasta + shares, and due dolci, has been designed to suit the our pop-up and to transition into that TBD pasta hour.

“We want to introduce these plates and then see what gets traction,” said Dempsey, “and we can go forward with our pasta hour with confidence in the dishes that we’ve chosen.”

As one would only imagine at Fleeting, all of the pasta is made in-house and by Dempsey & Co.

“I’m the guy,” he said and shared that there will be one extruded pasta, one hand-cut noodle, and one hand-filled preparation.

If he had to choose a favorite ante facto, Dempsey touted the tortelli, saying, “The potato-and-spinach filling is like the best of a pierogi but with pasta.”

He expects that dish will be lightly tossed in a sage butter and plans that all three pasta secondi will not be overly sauced.

“I’m not going to do a lot to take away from the flavor of the filling and the flavor of the pasta,” he said.

Diverging from the customary cut of spaghetti, the cacio e pepe will star rigatoni with wood-grilled summer courgettes tossed with lemon olive oil “to build some acid into that plate and to bring a tone of freshness to it,” per Dempsey.

Rabbits from Bootleg Farm (Springfield, Georgia) will provide bones for stock and meat for braising to go into the pappardelle alla lepre.

“We’ll combine all that back together with San Marzano tomatoes and build a red ragout for that dish,” the chef explained.

TRUE TRATTORIA TREATS

Of Effimero’s salads + snacks, only the polpette di pollo—chicken meatballs with stracciatella, spinach, and crispy artichokes—is north of 20 dollars, and the only pasta + shares plate understandably listed as market price is the bistecca alla fiorentina.

The T-bone will be fired for three minutes on both sides and then five minutes standing on the bone.

“I know that I can’t replicate what you would get in the Italian countryside because I can’t source the same kind of beef that they get, ” Dempsey said with a humble laugh, though cuts from an Iowa small-farms collective are being brought in specially.

The fish in the pesca alla griglia + cacciucco will, most likely, be grouper, but Dempsey said the highlight of the dish is the cacciucco, an unctuous shellfish stew that will comprise shrimp from Brunswick, Sapelo Island clams, and North Carolina lump crab meat.

For starters, the chef calls the tagliata rucola e grana “a real classic salad with chunky Grana Padano, nice rocket greens, and that perfectly cooked sliced meat.”

“It’s not meant to be a fill-you-up appetizer, but it goes a long way with the fresh greens and cheese,” he added.

And what would a menu like this be without a proper panzanella, this one incorporating Stevedore’s country loaf and focaccia, local tomatoes, pole bean, crispy okra, and local olive oil.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of chefs who know what they’re doing,” Dempsey said, citing specifically his time at The Wyld Dock Bar with chef Tony Seichrist. “We did lots of dinners, special events for fifteen or twenty people, and we would always do Italian food. Pasta and shareable snacks.”

“I’ve never worked in an Italian place, but I’ve always had a connection to [the cuisine] because of Chef Tony and because of the authenticity and genuine nature of Italian food,” he said.

“You can’t hide behind it. You have to allow the ingredients to speak for themselves.”

Effimero will be held at Fleeting at Thompson Savannah (201 Port Street) on Tuesday, June 18, with seatings from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.); reservations highly recommended: https://www.fleetingrestaurant.com/effimero/

     
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