Philly restaurant pitching in to help earthquake victims

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091616-wpvi-earthquake-restaurant-4pm-video (WPVI)

It's been almost a month since a deadly earthquake devastated part of central Italy.

With an enormous cleanup effort still ongoing, a local restaurant is stepping in to raise money to help out.

When Joe Cicala, the executive chef of Le Virtu on East Passyunk Avenue, was creating a five course menu for their upcoming earthquake relief dinner, choosing the star course was simple.

"That would be bucatini all'amatriciana a tomato sugo, made by braising guanciale, which is a pork cheek," he said.

It's a simple, classic dish that takes good ingredients, and time.

"We add the tomato, a little bit of water, and cook on low for hours," said Cicala.

Le Cirtu specializes in the cuisine of Abruzzo.

"So naturally it was a good fit for us to raise as much money as we could for this cause," Cicala said.

When an earthquake hit the nearby town of L'Aquila in 2009, the restaurant raised $14,000 in two nights.

"And we are experiencing the same response now because of the Italian-American community in South Philadelphia," said Cicala.

The first one, on September 22, sold out so quickly, that they added a second dinner on October 20, with the money raised going to the Italian Red Cross.

And if you can't make it, you can still support the relief efforts any time

"Three dollars of every plate of bucatini sold will go to earthquake relief," said Cicala.

Joe's wife Angela, the pastry chef, is also auctioning off 20 of her original paintings, showing images of Amatrice's architecture lost in the earthquake, using authentic ingredients.

"And I am doing a little bit of recreations of them using espresso and wine and saffron, things that are very popular in Italy," she said.

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