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Martie Duncan brings her signature party to Dauphin Island

By David Holloway
on September 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM, updated September 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Martie Duncan isn't yet entirely comfortable with the fame that comes with being a finalist in "The Next Food Network Star."

She hesitates to talk about her new found street cred. She prefers the term "notoriety" to "fame."

But Duncan, who still lives in Birmingham, will be called on to provide part the celebrity portion of the program when Dauphin Island plays host on Oct. 13 to a gala celebration dubbed "Science, Celebrity and Seafood."

It also pairs up with the second annual Dauphin Island Art Trail that features 30 artists spread around the island at nine different locations.

The seafood event, which runs from 6-10 p.m., will be held in the spacious and beautiful confines of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium on the east end of the island. Its going to be an intimate affair that Duncan promises to infuse with her special brand of party planning.

She admits she has some pretty big shoes to fill in her duties as mistress of ceremonies. Last years host for a similar function on the island was none other than celebrity chef and cookbook author Alton Brown.

Its only a small irony that Duncan was Browns protege on the aforementioned Food Network competition. He shepherded her through the contest and appeared to take a special liking to her.

"Alton and I are two different personalities,"she said. "He certainly did leave a certain legacy, but what he started I'm going to continue," she said recently over coffee at a downtown Mobile shop.

The seafood event is right up her alley. She confesses to a special love for the southernmost tip of Alabama, a love that has grown over the years. "I love coming down here, especially in the fall of the year," she said.

The restorative powers to be found south of Interstate 10 even aided her in overcoming a difficult patch in her professional life.

In 2006, she said, she lost a company that she had started and was feeling especially punchy. So she

loaded up and headed to Fairhope, to a little bungalow that she frequents and holed up to get her mind right.

It was then, she said, that she set her aims on something much larger than shed ever done before. Right then she set a course that ultimately led her to the Food Network gig.

"Yes, Im always glad to be here," she said. In fact, she has plans to come back at the end of October for some rest and relaxation.

When the invite came to do the Dauphin Island event she didn't hesitate to accept, but she did feel compelled to entertain some help from some important friends. "This party is not big enough, what we need to do is turn this thing into a "Martie Party," she said, quoting one of her favorite sayings.

The first thing she did was to seek our another famous Alabamian who also has roots in Lower Alabama -- Taylor Hicks.

"Taylor tweeted me while I was on the Food Network and that meant a lot to me. He offered me a lot of support at that time and when I asked him to join the party down here he generously accepted," she said.

The former American Idol will be on hand to perform an acoustic set in what Duncan described as an "up close and personal performance."

Along with Hicks will be some all-star chef talent, as well.

Chef Pete Bloheme, owner of Panini Petes in Fairhope and now in downtown Mobile, will be on hand whipping up some of his signature dishes.

Chef Steve Zucker, executive chef for Bob Baumhower's string of restaurants, will be there preparing some of his Louisiana-inspired specialties.

Chef Garry Anderson from the Hotel at Auburn University will be in attendance, along with a group of his students from the schools excellent hospitality program.

Wintzell's Restaurant will be on hand supplying fresh "boutique" oysters and Chef Marc Walden from Little House Bistro in Mobile will prepare his famous bacon cheesecake. Che Tony Nicholas from the Hungry Owl in West Mobile will round out the line up of celebrity chefs.

"All the chefs were asked to prepare one of their signature seafood dishes," Duncan said.

Tickets are a mere $100 each, but they are limiting ticket sales to 250 lucky souls. Tickets may be purchased online at For information call 251-861-TRIP (8747) or

Auburn Assistant Professor Doctor William (Bill) C. Walton who will talk about his innovations in oyster farming as part of the science portion of the program.

He presently operates an experimental farm in Grand Bay that produces top-quality oysters of a consistent size that will eventually be sold to raw bars and restaurants across the country. 

News 3 Midday Kitchen: Oktoberfest at Ariccia

By: Tammy Terry | Chef Garry Anderson, Ariccia Trattoria

Published: September 20, 2012 Updated: September 20, 2012 - 12:55 PM


Ariccia beautification project nearing completion

Ariccia beautification project nearing completion

Ariccia Trattoria & Bar in Auburn is slated to reopen on Aug. 3 after a nearly monthlong beautification project

Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center, which houses the Italian eatery, said upgrades include changes to Ariccia, the outdoor patio, the hotel’s espresso bar and Enoteca, Ariccia’s main dining area.

The redesign is the first for the open-kitchen restaurant since opening in 2004, van der Reijden said. The decision to refresh Ariccia was made after the opening of Piccolo, a separate jazz lounge also located in the hotel. The project’s planning and designing have been a year in the making, and Ariccia’s beautification began July 7.

Van der Reijden said hotel officials collaborated with students in AU’s interior design program and Bill Johnson of The Johnson Studio in Atlanta to come up with new concept for the eatery. Piccolo was also designed by AU interior design students. In addition to its floors and ceilings getting a facelift, Ariccia’s private dining area will have a wine room, and the patio will include a fountain surrounded by a vertical garden.

As the beautification nears completion, van der Reijden said it is business as usual for hotel patrons, with Piccolo serving breakfast, lunch and dinner a la carte until Ariccia reopens.

“We’re pretty much opening a new restaurant, but the style and concept that people have come to appreciate in Ariccia doesn’t change,” van der Reijden said.

Although van der Reijden declined to disclose the cost of the restaurant’s beautification, he projected a positive return on investment on the beautification project, funded completely by hotel operations. Van der Reijden also said that the redesign project is not associated with the city of Auburn’s tax rebate program, a measure approved by the Auburn City Council in August 2011 with the objective of stimulating the redevelopment of existing commercial properties as well as attracting new businesses to the community.

News 3 Midday Kitchen with Ariccia

News 3 Midday Kitchen with Ariccia




Ariccia continues to serve during the renovation project. The restaurant will relaunch next week with a new menu and upgrades. You can see more about the project here.

The recipe for Chef Garry's dish is below.


Salmone con un Pomodoro e Crosta di Olive

with Fettuccine, Mussels, Prosciutto, Olive Oil and Parsley

By Ariccia Chef Garry Anderson

Ariccia Trattoria & Bar

Salmone con un Pomodoro e Crosta di Olive Recipe:

Tomato and Olive Tapenade Ingredients

1 can of peeled roma tomatoes

1 clove of garlic (crushed)

1 small shallot (finely sliced)

2 strips smoked bacon (diced)

1 sprig of Thyme

Pinch of dried oregano

2 leaves of basil (finely sliced)

Salt for seasoning

¾ cup of pitted black olives (Liguria)



Sweat the garlic, shallot, and bacon in a splash of extra virgin olive oil without adding color.  Next add in the herbs, a pinch of salt, and the can of peeled tomatoes.  Allow to cook for 35 minute on low heat. Taste and if the tomatoes are slightly acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar and adjust the seasonings to taste. Allow to cool down.


Blanch the olives in boiling water for 20 seconds to remove some of the salt and add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.


Salmon Ingredients

6 ounce portion of salmon per person

Olive oil

Spring of rosemary


Pan sear the salmon in olive oil with the sprig rosemary, then remove and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.  Apply an even coat of the tapenade and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  Remove and allow to rest for 2 minutes in a warm place before serving.

Basic Pasta Dough Recipe:


3 ¼ cups of flour, plus extra for kneading

5 large eggs

¼ teaspoon  of salt



Mound the flour on the table, make a well in the center and add the eggs.  Beat the eggs together and then begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.  As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape.  When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together.  Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands.  Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough and flour.


Lightly flour the table and continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary.  The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.  Wrap the dough in cling wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.  Makes about 1 ¼ pounds of pasta.


Making the Fettuccine:

You can use a pasta machine or roll by hand, but the method is the same either way.


First roll the dough into an oblong shape and fold in 3 over itself and repeat 3 times.  Then start to roll again, making the dough thinner each time, 3 more times, keeping the dough well floured.  Then either using a pasta machine or cutting by hand, cut the dough into thin strips.


Add pasta to a large pot of salted boiling water with olive oil and cook for 3 minutes.   Remove from pot and place into iced water for 2 minutes to cool down, then coat in olive oil.

Fettuccine, Mussels, Prosciutto, Olive Oil and Parsley Ingredients:

  • 3 mussels per person
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 2 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 clove of garlic (sliced)
  • Half shallot finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Basil pesto
  • White wine


Warm up a large skillet and add a drop of olive oil, the mussels, garlic, and shallot and toss gently.  Then add a splash of white wine and cover to allow the mussels to steam open.  Next add the prosciutto and basil pesto and toss again.  Add in the fettuccine that has been blanched in boiling water and toss again then add the parsley and serve.






Auburn’s casual Italian eatery, Ariccia Trattoria & Bar, will undergo a beautification during July to give the space a more cozy and intimate feel.  The project will begin on July 7, 2012 and will include changes to the restaurant, the outdoor patio, Enoteca, and the hotel espresso bar.  This will be the first remodel since Ariccia opened in 2004.

The beautification will be handled by the Atlanta-based restaurant design firm, Johnson Studios.  Ariccia’s new style will be fresher and sleeker, which will give the restaurant a new world feel while still maintaining the old world culinary concept it is so well known for – using fresh local ingredients to create simple, Italian-inspired dishes.

During the beautification process, the tile flooring will be replaced with hardwood, the red brick walls will be lime washed to create a brighter backdrop, and half of the current tables will be removed and replaced with banquette seating and booths to create a more intimate feel.  The color palette will include warm chocolate and mocha hues.   Enoteca, the private dining room in Ariccia, will add temperature-controlled wine storage as the focal point in the room.  The espresso bar will become a part of the lobby and will serve as the location for guests who would like to grab a quick breakfast or cup of coffee and go.


The patio will be shielded from the road by planters featuring 10-foot high hedges, creating an intimate “secret garden” experience.  A fountain will be added to the middle of the patio, and the new pergola will provide overhead lighting, fans and shade, allowing guests the opportunity to dine outside year-round.

“Ariccia will be going through some exciting changes this summer.  With the beautification taking place and a new culinary team and chef at the kitchen’s helm, Ariccia will be completely revamped by August,” said Hans van der Reijden, Managing Director of The Hotel at Auburn University.  “We are excited to unveil Ariccia’s new look and for our guests to sample our new chef’s culinary creations.”

During the beautification process, Ariccia, Enoteca, and the espresso bar will be closed, but guests will be able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner à la carte in Piccolo.  There will be no breakfast and lunch buffets throughout the month of July.  Special weekly events such as Farm-to-Table Dinners and Veni Vidi Vino nights will also be served in Piccolo.  Tuesday night Pasta Bar will be moved to the Terrace Room and around the pool.  Summer Graduation celebrations will take place in the ballroom on August 4, 2012 with seatings beginning at 10:30 a.m. To make reservations, please call (334) 844-5140.

For additional information, please visit, follow us on Facebook at, and on Tumblr at



Two of Ariccia Trattoria & Bar’s most popular dinner series, Farm-to-Table Dinners and Craft Beer Dinners, will merge into one event starting on May 31st.  Ariccia’s chefs will create mouthwatering three-course menus featuring fresh, local products purchased from the Farmers Market at Ag Heritage Park and pair them with regional craft beers.  The Farm-to-Table menus will be available throughout the summer on Thursday evenings and will cost $35 per person.  Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling (334) 844-5140.  In addition to the dinners, Ariccia chefs will also be conducting cooking demonstrations at the Farmers Market in July and August.

“Our Farm-To-Table Dinners have been incredibly successful in the past, so I am excited to bring them back this summer and for the culinary team to continue building their relationships with local Auburn farmers and regional breweries,” said Hans van der Reijden, Managing Director of the Hotel at Auburn University.  “Each Thursday, Ariccia’s chefs will create different menus that highlight our delicious seasonal ingredients and will pair the dishes with popular craft beers.”

The weekly three-course menus will include a salad highlighting the season’s freshest vegetables and local cheeses.  The entrée will feature local beef, pork or lamb, and desserts will spotlight summer’s most flavorful fruits.  Every week, the special farm-to-table menus will be expertly paired with different craft beers from the following popular Alabama and Georgia breweries:  Back Forty Beer Company, Straight to Ale, Avondale, Good People Brewing Company, Blue Pants Brewery, Yellowhammer, SweetWater, Innis and Gunn, Wild Heaven, Heavy Seas, and Bells.

For additional information about the Farm-to-Table Dinners, please call (334) 844-5140 or visit  For a sneak preview of the evening’s menu, please visit the Ariccia Facebook page ( on Thursday afternoon to see what the chefs will be preparing that evening.


Elise Mitchell wins 2012 Best Mom essay contest

Elise Mitchell wins 2012 Best Mom essay contest

By: Elise Mitchell | Opelika-Auburn News

Words cannot express exactly why my mom, Kathy Mitchell, is the BEST mom in East Alabama — Her actions show and tell it all. My mom is always there for me and my two sisters. Behind a GREAT kid is a GREAT mom and THAT IS OUR MOM! My sisters and I are very involved in lots of activities and she is always supportive in anything we do. She was always our room mom when we were younger and is the mom everyone calls on if they need something done. My mom taught in the school System for 4 years and all the students loved my mom. Even today when she sees one of her former students, they will run up to her and say, “Hey Mrs. Mitchell!” She is always very glad to see them and they know it.  My mom makes us and everyone feel very good about themselves. They always tell her how nice she was to them and how much they miss her.   If she were still there, the students would love her — SHE WAS LIKE A MOM TO ALL OF THEM TOO!!!   Even if my mom is busy and tired from a hard day at work, she will sit down with me and my sisters and play a game—she always says, “the memories we are making are more important than anything.” My mother’s love for us is like nothing else in the world.

Now you can see why I said … words cannot express exactly why my mom is the BEST mom in East Alabama — LIKE I SAID HER ACTIONS SHOW AND TELL IT ALL!!!

The Opelika-Auburn News, The Hotel at Auburn University and Ariccia Trattoria and Bar would like to thank everyone who participated in the Best Mom in East Alabama contest. We would also like to wish every mother in East Alabama a Happy Mother’s Day.

The article can be found at the OA News website.


A Tour of Italy in Lee County

Elizabeth Williams
For The Corner News
Published: April 6, 2012 9:18:20 am

Ariccia, the upscale restaurant and bar located in the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center, is hosting a “Tour d’Italia” cooking class the first Wednesday of each month starting next week.

Sarah Morriss, junior majoring in art and Italian, studied abroad in Italy last summer and is excited about the event.

“I went to Italy through the art department last summer and loved every minute of it,” said Morriss. “I was able to immerse myself in the culture, practice my language and eat the best food I’d ever had in my life. I’m excited about trying Ariccia’s take on authentic Italian food.”

While in Rome, Morriss said she could not get enough of the pesto gnocchi, an Italian pasta dish.

“It’s a simple dish, really,” said Morriss. “It’s just potato-filled dumplings with a pesto cream sauce. I hope that Ariccia will feature it during their cooking class because it’s my favorite.”

To give patrons a more intimate atmosphere, the cooking lessons are held in Enoteca, the private dining room in Ariccia.

Each week, Chef Miguel will teach the students about various culinary techniques and recipes offered throughout different regions of Italy.

The students will not only take home a plate of pasta, but also knowledge about the world around us and another country’s culture.

“My fiance and I love to cook Italian cuisine so this is perfect for us,” said Morriss. “It’s also a great present for a friend or a neat thing to take part in as a group.”

The cost for the event is $100 per person, but the price includes all the Italian dishes that are prepared, a bottle of wine, a gift basket to take home and the class itself.

“I definitely want to go,” said Morriss. “It’ll make me feel like I’m in Italy again.”

“Tour d’Italia” is one of the many events Ariccia offers each week as an alternative to the usual weeknight meal. To register for the “Tour d’Italia” cooking lesson, contact Claire Posey at 334.321.3179 or visit Ariccia’s website at


Alabama Magazine Article

Alabama Magazine Article

Tour d' Italia couples' cooking class is the perfect recipe for a sumptuous Valentine's Day meal


February brings Valentine's Day themed events to the Hotel

February brings Valentine's Day themed events to the Hotel

Article featured in the OA News


Chef Miguel discusses Valentine's Day in Ariccia

Chef Miguel discusses Valentine's Day in Ariccia

Chef Miguel discusses the Valentine's Day specials at Ariccia in The Hotel at Auburn University.

To view the video visit


Valentine's Day with Ariccia Trattoria in Auburn

Valentine's Day with Ariccia Trattoria in Auburn

We're in the kitchen with Chef Miguel Figueroa from Ariccia Trattoria, the popular restaurant is in The Hotel at Auburn University and often hosts cooking classes.

This month, Chef Miguel is teaching amorous dishes in the Tour D'Italia series of classes. The Hotel at Auburn University is also offering specials for Valentine's Day.

For more information on the Tour D'Italia classes, call (334) 321-3181.

For more information on the hotel's Valentine specials, call (334) 821-8200.

Here are a couple of the recipes Chef Miguel shared:


Yield 4 servings:

  • Fresh shucked Oysters 1dz
  • Fresh lime 2ea
  • Fresh lemon 2ea.
  • Extra virgin Olive oil
  • Basil chopped ½ cup
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Zest from 1 Orange
  • Salt to taste

Method of preparation:

  1. Brush and rinse the outside of the oysters really good.
  2. Shucked the oysters, keep them in a half shell and  place them in a sheet tray
  3. Season the oysters with lime juice, lemon juice, EVOO, orange zest, basil, salt and tabasco to taste.
  4. Start up an outside grill with lid, chef recommends a charcoal grill in medium heat.
  5. When the grill is hot and ready uncover the grill and place the oysters inside the grill shell down and cover the grill.
  6. Cook them for 5 minutes with the lid on.
  7. Uncover and serve them right away.


Lobster Bruschetta

Yield 25 pieces

  • Lobster  tail shell off   1ea. (7-10oz average)
  • Roma tomato small diced 2ea. (no seeds)
  • Fresh Basil chopped ½ cup
  • Red onion small diced ½ ea.
  • Garlic ½ clove small diced
  • Capers ½ cup Chopped
  • Fresh lemon 1ea
  • Fresh lime 1ea
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil as need it.
  • Whole unsalted butter 1lb
  • 1 baguette bread sliced

Method of preparation:

  1. In a small sauce pot melt the butter (1lb) in medium heat.
  2. When butter start to simmer add the lobster tail.
  3. Cook the lobster for 5 minutes depending on the size. (Lobster need to be completely submerge in the butter) add more butter if need it.
  4. After 5 min. check the lobster in the thickest part for doneness. Add a few minutes if need it.
  5. When lobster tail is done, pull out from the butter and cool down completely in the refrigerator.
  6. When lobster is cold small diced it and placed in a mixing bowl.
  7. In a mixing bowl add all ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to mix as need it.
  8. Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator overnight and season again if need it.
  9. Sliced the bread in small pieces and toast in the oven until golden brown.
  10. Let the bread rest until cool down.
  11. Add the mixture to the bread, drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle a little sea salt. Garnish with a parsley leaf and serve right away.