Few things are better at bringing people together than pizza. Just ask Palmer Vineyards. It’s thanks to pizza that they met their new in-house chef, Anna Aracri.
“It all began when we started collaborating with our pizza oven,” says Chef Anna. “We met through friends and then I started to go out to the vineyard to do a few events. I did some private tastings with them and we just kind of hit it off. We made a good marriage.”
It’s not difficult to understand why. Chef Anna has worked in the restaurant business for over two decades, and brings to her work all the precision of experience. When she is not managing her family’s restaurant, Oceans 5 in Shoreham, she can often be found tending fresh ingredients in her garden. And now, on the weekends—every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—she can also be found at Palmer Vineyards.
“I’m really excited,” says Chef Anna. “I’m happiest when I’m working with food. It’s just so great that I’m able to do what I love to do. And how wonderful that I get to do it in such a beautiful place, with such beautiful wine! The North Fork is my favorite place in the world.”
Coming from Chef Anna, this is a huge compliment to the region. She and her family own and frequently visit an ancestral home in Naples, Italy.
“If you come to my house in Naples, you’ll see that we spend three full days just shopping, cooking, and eating,” says Chef Anna. “We used to make our own wine. The smell at Palmer always reminds me of stomping on grapes as a kid.”
It’s this feeling—of enjoying food as an immersive experience, one that’s capable of creating a memory you can revisit again and again—that Chef Anna has recreated on her menu at Palmer.
First, of course, there’s the pizza. Chef Anna’s Pizza Di Nonna is a traditional wood-fired pizza topped with pork tenderloin that’s been marinated with Palmer Vineyards’ own Cabernet Franc, fresh garden herbs, and “cooked all Sunday” tomato sauce. Also on the menu is Chef Anna’s Flower Power Special: local or homegrown zucchini flowers dipped in locally-sourced beer batter, organic flour, sea salt, and fresh black pepper, then pan sautéed to a golden brown, crispy finish. There are also, of course, plenty of specials.
“I come from an Italian family,” says Chef Anna. “My brother’s a chef. My father’s a chef. We all inherited this incredible passion for food from our heritage. What’s most important to me is that the quality of the food is impeccable. It can’t just be about presentation. It’s about finding the highest quality ingredients and putting them together in a way that really highlights them.”
In that, Chef Anna has certainly been successful. The response to her cooking at Palmer Vineyards has been great, and it’s even given her something of a reputation.
“It’s so funny,” says Chef Anna. “I was at the Cooperage Inn recently and I was telling someone about how I make authentic Neapolitan brick pizza. Mid-conversation, somebody else tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Are you the pizza girl at Palmer?’ I said yes, and they said, ‘Oh my god, it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had.'”