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Chicken Saltimbocca alla Terza 

Courtesy Cesarina Mezzoni, chef/owner, Cesarina, San Diego (@cesarinapasta) 

Opened in 2019, San Diego’s Cesarina serves food inspired by the home cooking of Mezzoni’s native Rome. Her take on this dish includes a Pecorino-pepper butter and a garnish of figs, a classic match for prosciutto.

Alla terza means “to the third,” which Mezzoni says describes her version because “it combines three of my favorite Roman dishes: saltimbocca, cacio e pepe and prosciutto e fichi.” She likes to serve it with gnocchi alla Romana, which are like baked disks of cheesy semolina dumplings, but it’s hearty enough to stand on its own.


4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pounded ⅛-inch thin 
Salt, to taste 
8 sage leaves  
4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma (about 1 ounce)
4 thin slices Provolone cheese  (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature) 
2 tablespoons fine-grated Pecorino Romano cheese 
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper 
4 tablespoons olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
Flour, to dust 
2 tablespoons white wine 
Sliced figs, to garnish 


On large sheet of plastic wrap, lay 2 thighs side-by-side. Season with salt. On each thigh, lay 2 sage leaves, followed by one slice each of prosciutto di Parma and Provolone. Starting at short end of each thigh, use hands to roll tightly. Pull plastic up over chicken to wrap thighs tightly, then twist ends multiple times to prevent unraveling. Repeat with remaining thighs, sage, prosciutto and Provolone.

Bring pot of water to boil, then reduce heat to low and maintain low simmer at 180°F. Add wrapped chicken rolls carefully, and poach about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to ice bath to chill.

In small bowl, combine butter, Pecorino and pepper. Set aside.

In large pan over medium-high heat, warm olive oil and garlic. Remove chicken from plastic and dust both sides lightly with flour. Add to pan, and cook until browned all over, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken, then add butter mixture to pan. Cook until butter bubbles and begins to turn color, then add wine and stir to scrape browned bits from pan. Whisk to emulsify.

Slice chicken rolls crosswise into 1-inch thick slices, and divide between two plates. Drizzle with sauce, and garnish with fig slices. Serves 2.

Wine Pairing

Zuani 2018 Vigne White (Collio). This bold and structured blend of Friulano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio showcases the unique qualities of Collio’s location between the Julian Alps and the Adriatic, and the marl-sandstone soils (known locally as ponca) in which the vines are grown. It’s elegant and refreshingly acidic, with a complex minerality. “Its mild acidity will perfectly balance the richness of the cacio e pepe butter, and the body adds warmth and character so the Collio isn’t overwhelmed by the prosciutto and figs,” says Mezzoni.