For my boyfriend, cacciatore means family. He still fondly remembers the chicken cacciatore his mother used to make years ago, the sweet tomato sauce stewing all day in the kitchen, the chicken thighs so tender the meat falls off the bone. (I’ve got memories of chicken cacciatore in the kitchen, too, with my mom sweetening up her homemade tomato sauce with carrots, but since he’s the Italian one I’ll pay credence to his cacciatore, lol.) I definitely want to remake this wonderfully rustic and simple dish for him one day…maybe I’ll make the endeavor today, on National Chicken Cacciatore Day! The heart of an Italian cacciatore stew is rusticness; it’s even in its name. “Cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian, and a cacciatore meal means the meal’s been prepared hunter-style, with lots of rough-cut onions, herbs, and wine. Everything is slow-cooked on a low simmer for hours, meaning that even the toughest meats get nice and tender in the stewing pot. Chicken cacciatore works best when you use the cheapest cuts of chicken, like leg parts and thighs. Pair it with a loaf of big, crusty Italian bread, and you have a meal that’s really worthy of an Italian grandma!

Get a chicken cacciatore dish just like my boyfriend’s mom used to make at Ciro’s on Smith, the recently renewed location of the Fall Cafe in Carroll Gardens. The open kitchen allows you to watch as all of your favorite rustic Italian dishes are prepared for you, including a fall-off-the-bone chicken cacciatore. It’s a perfect meal for the fall nights that are getting chillier and chillier, marking the coming of a cold winter. Ciro’s is still in the first few months of opening, so it’s a little infant in the big, grand world of New York City dining, but I’m sure you will see more coming from this comfy little eatery soon!

Ciro’s on Smith
307 Smith St (between Union St & President St), Carroll Gardens

Some reviews from

“Went here last night with my boyfriend and this place was wonderful. I got the chicken cacciatore, he the spaghetti and meatballs. The chicken is delicious and literally falls off the bone. It’s placed on a bowl of creamy, dreamy polenta with peas. The spaghetti was equally delicious and according to him, the best he’s had in quite a while. Ciro’s is incredibly well priced for what we got – our total meal for 1 app, 2 entrees, 2 glasses of wine and tira misu (also divine!) was around $80 with tip. The wait staff was also very charming and seemed to be having fun chatting up the customers and offering recommendations. I will definitely be returning!”–K. H.

“We came back a few weeks later, they remembered us, gave us great treatment and the meals were all grade A. I had the chicken cacciatore which is stewed with tomatoes and placed on a bed of creamy polenta mixed with peas (out of this world), we got the spinach lasagna again, the sweet pea ravioli, a few sides, chocolate bread pudding for dessert, bottle of wine, it was cheap for 4 people as well.”–Timothy M.


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