Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.
“Italians hug,” said Lorraine Schinelli, giving me a quick squeeze as I packed up my things after a cooking class at the Roman Table.
Schinelli, a Scituate resident, had spent the evening showing a diverse assortment of would-be chefs how to make her grandmother’s manicotti. Under her guidance, we learned to swirl the batter in a small fry pan to create a thin crepe (it’s all in the wrist), fill the crepes with a ricotta-egg-parmesan-parsley mixture, and roll and pack them neatly for the oven.
In two short hours we discovered enough about manicotti and each other so that a goodbye hug seemed perfectly natural.
Cooking classes are one way Cynthia Gallo-Casey spreads the word about the shop she opened two years ago in a waterfront building that used to be the town post office. The Roman Table is her tribute to the art of eating Italian-style. It carries olive oils and vinegars (available for tasting), specialty pasta and baking mixes, handcrafted tableware, table linens, and home decor.
“I grew up at the table,” Gallo-Casey said. “It’s all about the table, and making eating much more of an artistic, intimate experience.” The rooster that serves as the store’s logo honors her father, Marco Basil Gallo, she said; “gallo” means rooster in Italian.
Becoming an entrepreneur was a major life change for the Norwell resident, who spent 23 years working in state government. “You can’t think out of the box in the public sector,” Gallo-Casey said. “You’re not rewarded for risk-taking.”
When she lost that job, she said, her husband, Rick Casey, encouraged her to use the opportunity to do something she really loved. With a loan from a family member, she opened the shop in June 2010.
Gallo-Casey travels to Italy at least once a year, and has started running culinary tours in conjunction with her buying trips. Ceramics are her passion. “My husband would tell you I’d rather have a bowl than a piece of jewelry,” she said with a laugh.
The best part of our cooking class was consuming what we prepared at a round table in the back of the shop. Along with manicotti, we enjoyed focaccia made with chick pea flour and Tuscan herb olive oil, and spinach salad.
Gallo-Casey took the opportunity to showcase the store’s olive oil and balsamic vinegar selection. A salad dressing made of Australian olive oil and fig balsamic was delicious, and dessert consisted of vanilla ice cream topped with a choice of flavored balsamics (dark chocolate paired with coconut or raspberry were the favorites).
The Roman Table runs three or four cooking classes a month, averaging six to 10 participants. Costs range from $50 to $70 per class. This month’s schedule includes manicotti, tapas for entertaining, and possibly sessions on making gnocchi and lobster ravioli.
Gallo-Casey teaches some classes herself, and brings in guest chefs for others — mostly friends, like Schinelli, who have family cooking history to share.
“I really want this to be a place where people can come and teach something that they grew up with,” she said. “It’s a way of sharing family traditions, keeping them alive, passing them on.”