food color (pesto)

Photo by Erica Sterling

Due north of Downtown, the Duckpond Neighborhood is well-known for its oak canopies and Victorian homes. But at the neighborhood’s edge, tucked among the trees and houses-turned-law firms, sits a gabled, terraced home that is unlike the rest. Inside, you’ll find the Fat Tuscan Café.

Michele Gioviti, owner and executive chef, works hard to keep the Fat Tuscan homey and welcoming. She does this in the spirit of her grandmother, Maria, who loved to cook.

Gioviti fondly recalls the taste of the Nutella sandwiches her grandmother would make for her while she watched soap operas. She said she remembers her grandmother tucked between the ironing board and the stove, where she tended to a bubbling pot of red gravy for that night’s dinner.

And Gioviti does her best to recreate this kind of feeling for her patrons at the Fat Tuscan. Soft yellow light, sturdy pine beams and fresh flowers on every table create a sense of comfort to match the home-cooked Italian meals she serves.

The menu is a bit more diverse than the average Italian place: Grandmother Maria’s massive hand-rolled meatballs share the page with this nifty arugula pesto pasta. It’s vegan, but if you don’t roll that way you can easily add your favorite animal products. Fall’s coming, so throw on a sweater, open up a window and give the recipe a try.

Arugula Pesto

Start to finish: about 20 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8


  • 1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins
  • 1/2 head of fresh garlic
  • 1 large bag of baby arugula
  • 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a food processor, combine nuts, raisins and garlic until finely ground.
  2. While the processor is running, add arugula and slowly pour in the oil. Add salt and pepper, which you can adjust to taste.
  3. Cook desired type of dry pasta. (The Fat Tuscan uses angel hair.)
  4. Toss cooked pasta with pesto and a little cooking water. Top with walnuts and raisins to garnish.

The pesto can also be frozen in airtight plastic containers for up to three months.

General info

The Fat Tuscan Café
725 NE 1st St.
Open Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

In-season fruits & veggies







Chestnuts, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Okra, Papaya, Pecans, Persimmons, Pineapple, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pumpkins, Radishes, Satsumas, Southern Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Watermelon and Zucchini.