Derby City’s Most Decadent Dishes

Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer

Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer

While it’s certainly no secret that Louisville boasts a culinary scene that rivals the nation’s most cosmopolitan cities, some chefs in Derby City are taking our acclaimed foodie reputation and elegantly elevating it. Ming Pu of The 502 Bar & Bistro, Bobby Benjamin of Butchertown Grocery, Tavis Rockwell of LouVino and John Varanese of River House are just four of our city’s culinary masterminds who are cooking up some seriously phenomenal dishes. Take a look at what they each offered as their most decadent dish, and if you feel up to it, try testing out their recipe in your own kitchen and become the epicure you’ve always dreamed of being!

The 502 Bar & Bistro

Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer

Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer

10401 Meeting St.



“You don’t see too many people using heart of palm, and some people who’ve never heard of it are like, ‘What is it?’ But it’s very unique in itself. It’s very basic but clean.”

“The scallops are real buttery and the Mogul wine itself is very balanced, so combined, it’s just a harmony of flavors.” – Exectuve Chef Ming Pu

Pan-Seared Diver Scallops with Heart of Palm Salad and Yuzu Crème Fraiche

Paired with
Mas Theo “Mogul”

Heart of Palm Salad

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup heart of palm sliced into 1/2-inch coins

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1/2 cup tomatoes medium diced

Juice of one lime

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Heat up vegetable oil in a medium-size sauté pan and sauté the heart of palm for about two minutes. Then once cooled, combine all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and mix thoroughly. Chill and serve.

Yuzu Crème Fraiche

2 oz. yuzu juice (available at most Korean or Japanese markets)

1 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

In a stainless steel bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.


Ryan Noltemeyer| Portrait Photography

Ryan Noltemeyer| Portrait Photography

8 jumbo scallops

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 oz. unsalted whole butter

Dry each scallop with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. In a medium-size sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil on high. Once the oil has started smoking, carefully place each scallop into the pan. Sear the scallops for two minutes. Then flip the scallops, add the butter and sear for about another minute.

Butchertown Grocery

Photo by Crystal Ludwick

Photo by Crystal Ludwick

1076 E. Washington St.



“I think as chefs, that’s what we want to do – we want to find the best ingredients and combine them with extremely proper technique and give it to our guests where the guest is the one pleased. It’s not about me – it’s about our guests every single day.” – Executive Chef/Owner Bobby Benjamin

“Both the porchetta and wine are great separate, but when you put them together it just makes the porchetta sing and it’s a perfect combination. The crispiness on the porchetta and then also the earthiness that comes with it, the wine brings it all out and it’s just happiness in your mouth.” – Beverage Director Nic Christensen

Berkshire Porchetta with Romesco Sauce

Paired with 2013 Indigenous Sangiovese


1 cup garlic cloves, peeled (for garlic confit)

2 cups olive oil (for garlic confit)

1 12-pound pork belly

3 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons pepper

1/4 cup garlic confit, crushed (recipe follows)

1/2 cup fines herbes

1/4 cup Italian seasoning

To make garlic confit, heat oven to 275 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a deep pan. Cover with olive oil until about 2 inches above the garlic. Place in oven and bake for about three to four hours until cloves are medium brown. Strain oil and set aside.

Photo by Crystal Ludwick

Photo by Crystal Ludwick

Heat oven or rotisserie to 270 degrees. Place the pork belly on a large cutting board and remove the ribs. Season with salt and pepper. Crush garlic confit with a fork. Rub on the inside of the pork belly flesh. Season pork belly with fines herbes and Italian seasoning and roll liberally. If using a rotisserie, tie the roast as a roll using a proper trussing method and skewer. If using an oven, place in a deep pan. Slowly roast for seven hours making sure to constantly control the heat to avoid over crisping.

Remove the pork belly and let it rest for an hour before slicing.

Romesco Sauce

5 red bell peppers

1 onion

4 shallots

1/4 cup garlic confit

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch cilantro

1/4 cup Marcona almonds

2 Calabrese peppers

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1 cup olive oil

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small pan, add the red bell peppers, onion and shallots. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Combine the roasted peppers, onion and shallots with garlic confit, parsley, cilantro, almonds, Calabrese peppers and crushed red pepper in a food processor. Blend slowly. Add olive oil as needed to emulsify the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Store in refrigerator for 90 minutes before use.

Slice and plate the pork belly. Add the Romesco sauce on top and serve.


Photo By Tim Valentino

Photo By Tim Valentino

1606 Bardstown Road, 11400 Main Street


502.365.1921, 502.742.1456

“This dish is a classic risotto, and I love mushrooms. The real inspiration was trying a white truffle pate that I knew would set off a risotto.” – Executive Chef Tavis Rockwell

“The Santa Christina Le Maestrelle pairs quite well with our wild mushroom risotto. The risotto is rich, flavorful and earthy due to the wild mushroom blend and truffle pate. The Santa Christina has a great, pleasant fruity acidity that helps cut through the richness of the risotto. The wine also has some deeper earthy tones of its own that bridge the gap and round the pairing out. Pairing an Italian wine with Italian food also just feels so natural – that is probably why the Italians consider their wines to be food.” – General Manager Dan Serpi

Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

Paired with
Santa Cristina
Le Maestrelle
Toscana IGT

Mushroom and Truffle Risotto

2 tablespoons of your favorite blended oil

1 shallot, minced

1 small white onion, minced

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 cup of your favorite mushrooms, chopped (recommend: oyster, crimini or shiitake)

1 pound Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

1 quart mushroom stock (or vegetable stock)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

2 tablespoons butter

2 sprigs fresh oregano, picked from stems and chopped fine

2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked from stems and chopped fine

1 tablespoon white truffle pate (or 1 teaspoon white truffle oil)

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Photo By Tim Valentino

Photo By Tim Valentino

In a three-quart saucepan, heat oil and sauté shallot, onion and garlic on medium-low until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until onion mixture is golden brown with mushrooms. Add rice and incorporate. Once incorporated, add wine and turn heat up to medium, stirring until the wine is evaporated. Meanwhile, warm broth in separate pan.

Add enough broth to cover the rice. Let it simmer while stirring, and add more broth every time the broth is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Once the rice is cooked and broth is not yet completely absorbed, remove from heat. Stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and butter. Keep stirring until a creamy consistency is reached. If needed, return pan to heat on stove briefly. Once creaminess is reached and right before serving, add oregano, thyme and truffle pate or oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve warm alongside your favorite protein.

River House

Photo by Tim Valentino

Photo by Tim Valentino

3015 River Road



“It’s pretty simple, but it’s one of those really elegant dishes where you have the opportunity to sit down and eat a pound of crab and not have to play with it for a half hour cracking shells.”

“I like [this wine] because of the stringent acidity it has to it. It’s not overly fruity – you’ve got a little bit of fruit notes – but you get a lot of minerality of citrus zest, and I think it really awakens the palate and pairs well with that shellfish flavor profile.”
– Executive Chef/Owner John Varanese

Lump Crab Tower

Paired with
La Freynelle, Bordeaux Blanc

Lump Crab Tower

1 pound colossal lump blue crab

Serve with dijonaise and balsamic butter (2 parts balsamic to 1 part clarified butter mixed with a generous dose of salt and pepper) and garnish with pea tendrils and popcorn shoots.

Photo By Tim Valentino

Photo By Tim Valentino