Made in Idaho: A taste of northern Italy in Canyon County

Ragazza di Bufalo blends Italy with the best of Idaho
Posted at 8:49 AM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 10:49:29-05

CALDWELL, Idaho -- The city of Caldwell has seen quite a bit of growth over the past few years, especially when it comes to places to eat. And no, foodies have a new upscale option, brought to Caldwell by Chef Steven Topple, a cook who was born "across the pond" but is proud to call the Gem State home.

His newest restaurant -Ragazza di Bufalo - is housed in the former Orphan Annie's building on Everett Street, and serves up house-made, hand-crafted pastas and sauces, from a chunky marinara to a lobster cream sauce to a bison-stuffed tortellini.

The menu at the Canyon County eatery is centered around the food of northern Italy, a region the British-born chef became fond of during his travels across Europe. Topple recalls, "I just fell in love with the sauces and the pastas, and sealing stuff inside like the raviolis."

Topple first came to the US two decades ago, honing his craft under renowned chefs like Wolfgang Puck. But when he landed in Idaho, he knew he'd found home. "I just absolutely fell in love with Idaho. McCall is where I first came to, working at the Shore Lodge."

Chef Topple opened his first restaurant in Donnelly in 2018: the original Ragazza di Bufalo, which opened in the building that housed the Buffalo Gal restaurant and hence, the name ("ragazza di bufalo" roughly translates to "buffalo gal" in Italian). From there, Topple quickly realized he wanted to expand into the Treasure Valley. He tells Idaho News 6, "Coming down to Caldwell, meeting the people here, [who are] all so excited and welcoming about having a restaurant here."

And while the mouth-watering menu at the second Ragazza di Bufalo may be inspired by Italy, the ingredients show off the best of Idaho. "I like to source local as much as i can," says Topple, including from a bison ranch up in Donnelly. "We do a bison shortrib tortellini. We braise the shortrib and then we dice it up, mix it with a little bit of truffle oil, chives, some demi-glace. Making my mouth water!" Topple laughs.

Diners will also enjoy an extensive collection of both Italian and Idaho wines, chosen by the chef himself, who enjoys visiting local wineries and meeting the winemakers.

And whether you're dining in or picking up a curbside order to go, Chef Topple says he's just thrilled to be a part of a community that - even in the middle of a pandemic - has made Ragazza di Bufalo feel welcome. He says, "Idaho is just such a special place, it really is."

If you want to check out the full menu at either of the Ragazza di Bufalo restaurants, or if you wish to create an online order, you can find that and all of Chef Topple's restaurants on his website here.