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Sundance Film Festival: Pasta dish pays homage to 'Big Night'

Published January 23, 2013 10:51 am

Cooking a film tribute • Park City restaurant pays homage to "Big Night" by serving the film's complicated signature dish.
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Park City • "Big Night," considered one of the best foodie films of all time, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996 and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

In the film, actors Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci play two brothers operating a failing Italian-American restaurant called Paradise.

Shalhoub and Tucci are big names, but anyone who has seen the movie knows the real star is the massive "timpano." This multilayered pasta dish, wrapped in a pastry and baked in the shape of the dome, is the centerpiece of the gourmet feast the brothers cook to save their family business.

On Monday afternoon — 17 years after its Sundance premiere — Bill Reilly, the food and beverage director at the Hearth restaurant at the Promontory Mountain Club, paid homage to the film by re-creating that famous dish for area residents and the media.

"It's a complicated dish that takes about three hours to put together and bake," said Reilly, who also served other items from that "Big Night" feast including a tricolored risotto with shrimp and scallops and tomato with fresh mozzarella.

The time-consuming timpano — sometimes called timballo —is no ordinary lasagna. The outer crust is formed by placing a large, thin sheet of dough inside a dome-shaped pan. The pastry is then filled with layers of cooked pasta, salami, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, homemade meatballs and ragu. The ends of the dough are wrapped up and around the filling to form a tight package, which is then baked until golden brown. When the timpano is sliced into wedges, the colorful layers are revealed.

For the Sundance lunch, Reilly used the recipe from Cucina & Famiglia, Stanley Tucci's family cookbook that was inspired by the movie. Tucci, who also wrote and directed "Big Night," published the cookbook after receiving so many requests for the timpano recipe, which his grandmother brought to America when she immigrated from Calabria, Italy.

Lunch guest Mike Sagalyn, of Connecticut, was impressed. "It's something delicious that you would not ordinarily see," he said.

Mark Sunday, of Park City, labeled it an "event dish" that would be fun to make for a dinner party.

Added his wife, Alice: "It was really good and unusual, but I will not be attempting it."