Shake+Stir Parma Restaurant

Lauren Barisic, Kathy Stypula, Aida Mohamed, Elaine Steitz, Ivette Ibarra, and Rebecca Abell

Parma Restaurant is the embodiment of its namesake city, from food to décor. CVLUX’s Donna Ensom hosted Kathy Stypula, Aida Mohamed, Elaine Steitz, Ivette Ibarra, and Rebecca Abell amidst Parma’s simulated Piazza Garibaldi. There, Shake+Stir’s eleventh edition cultivated what was decidedly the most interesting conversation to-date. It must have been the Italian wine that was flowing before everyone even made it to the table… Recap: the ladies covered everything from out-of-the-ordinary bedtime routines and organic skincare practices to controversial supplements…most of which were inappropriate for publishing here! Parma’s vino selection is extensive, but the three cocktails served were incredible—perfect for a nightcap. While the ladies had the pleasure of trying five menu items (plus an unscheduled dessert), there are plenty more where those came from.

As the restaurant’s motto goes, Parma may be “A City to Love,” but owner Elena Corsini Mastro’s food is to-die-for. Her desire to bring a little piece of her hometown of Parma, in Northern Italy, to the San Joaquin Valley lead her to open Parma Restaurant in September of 1990. 

Guests feel transported when they walk into the establishment—as if the scents of scratch-made pasta and authentic Italian flavors aren’t enticing enough, a wallpapered photo of the Piazza Garibaldi (taken by Elena’s niece) makes you feel as though you are part of the bustling city center. Elena had the photograph printed in three panels so that 1) she can take it with her wherever she goes, and 2) “So you’ll be sitting with the people in the plaza this evening!” Pale blue and butter yellow linens echo the plaza’s historic façades, accented by rustic touches.

Situated in the southwestern corner of the North Pointe Center, at Palm and Herndon Avenues, in Fresno, Parma Restaurant is open only for dinner. Patrons can enjoy authentic Italian cuisine from 5:30 to 10:30 Monday through Saturday. Private Parties are accommodated on Saturdays, for 25 or more guests, from noon until 4 p.m.

There’d be no Parma Restaurant without Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parma ham (aka: prosciutto). So it was befitting that the Torta Fritta & Prosciutto Di Parma was first out. A light, fried dough (about the size of raviolis) is served with arguably the most delectable Parma ham you can find in the Valley and intended to be enjoyed together. “The only thing that would’ve made it better is to have cheese on top…and then there was cheese!” Kathy reflected. Elena had followed shortly behind by serving beautiful wedges chipped from the grandfather wheel—Parmigiano-Reggiano connoisseurs will relish the delicate crumble and micro salt crystals as it melts on your tongue.

Simple but sublime, the Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer is the perfect springtime cocktail. “I love this! This is my favorite,” Ivette (a pomegranate fan to begin with) declared of the pomegranate juice and prosecco concoction garnished with a blood orange slice and a sprig of rosemary, which delicately accents the flavor.

The Vitello Tonnato appetizer consists of a thin slice of poached veal tenderloin, topped with tuna aioli and a bit of arugula, then garnished with a cornichon, pearl onions, and caper berries, which Rebecca described as being “like an olive, but bursting!” Her plate was cleaned before anyone had a second bite. Elaine admitted, “It tastes like roast beef!” You can eat it with a fork, or layer it atop the accompanying piece of garlic toast.

Bourbon fans will really appreciate the Citrus Basil Manhattan for spring. CVLUX’s Editor in Chief David Manning was delighted to find that “it’s refreshing!” Maker’s Mark bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup are served with basil leaves, allowing for a peppery finish. “It’s an acquired taste, but very interesting,” described Elaine.

The Cappelletti in Brodo soup is not on the menu, but, if you call a day in advance, Chef Emilia-Romagna might make it for your reservation…and then you’ll be obsessed. “This is so good…how is this so good?!” David eagerly questioned—everyone agreed it was the best chicken soup they’d ever had. Divine. A specialty of the chef, mini raviolis, stuffed with cheese and juice of the chicken meat, float in capon chicken broth.

An Italian dinner would be incomplete without pasta, and the Cheese Ravioli did not disappoint. “These are incredible!” Kathy professed of the pasta pillows, which don’t even need sauce. “They’re wonderful all by themselves!” Aida concurred. A ricotta cheese mixture is folded between homemade pasta dough, tossed in butter and sprinkled with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Onto the Pollo Mattone alla Diavola, which Aida professed to be “the tastiest chicken” she’d ever had, and everyone at the table agreed; no one spoke…everyone just ate. “It’s so flavorful,” Donna mused. Half-chickens are pan-seared, with a spice that has heat yet isn’t overpowering, then cooked under a brick. It is served with roasted red potatoes, asparagus, and grilled fruit (nectarines and pears), all of which share the same spicy seasoning. “I’ve never experienced seasoning like this; totally addictive,” admitted Rebecca. It’s a wonderful marriage of spring’s bounty with comfort food. 

“Oh my gosh…this is to die!” Ivette exclaimed of Parma’s Chocolate Martini. Composed of Amaretto, Bacardi rum, dark rum, chocolate liqueur, and bitters, this liquid dessert doubles as a boozy bath for its dark cherry garnish, resulting in a heavenly fruit finish to perhaps the best chocolate martini you’ll ever have.

In line with Italian hospitality, Elena surprised the group by delivering two Tris di Dolce assortments (made up of Classic Crème Brûlée, Mousse al Cioccolato con Salsa Chantilly, and Torta di Limone e Mascarpone) to the table, accompanied by plates of Italian cookies—the dishes were left bare. The ladies admitted that they love a sugar rush of energy, but Kathy divulged her secret to endless vigor: BIOREIGNS LIMITLESS CBD + Curcumin Isolates capsules, which she just happened to have extra bottles of in her purse, so half the ladies bought a bottle on the spot!

Elena’s offerings at Parma Restaurant will make your list of favorites very easily. As spring buds, the ladies reflected on fresh perspectives and the journeys they’ve traveled to get to where they are today. It was realized that Kathy and Ivette have been supporters of CVLUX since it’s birth six years ago—both of their homes were featured in the magazine’s first year. Shake+Stir consistently cultivates new friendships over a common appreciation for wonderful food, and these ladies share an exceptionally memorable dining experience. Save yourself the trip overseas—the Italian LUX life can be served to you via dinner plates and cocktail glasses at Parma Restaurant. 

Hosted at Parma Restaurant

Managing Editor Lauren Barisic

Photographer Don Dizon