Joseph DeQuattro owns and is the executive chef of Pane e Vino, which he opened in 2002. With his team he recreates and draws inspiration from the cuisine of southern Italy. We talked about familial influences, recipes and advice to young chefs.
So, who ignited your passion for southern Italian cuisine?
My grandmother was born in Itri, Italy, a small town just north of Naples. I grew up watching her cook for our entire family, which wasn’t small. My grandmother always had a loud, festive house and she loved it that way. I grew up in that environment; it was about family and eating together. It made me who I am today and my passion for cooking started with her.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
My style of cooking is consistent with southern Italy, the Campania and Lazio regions. I believe in simple cooking. I choose my ingredients carefully and let them work with each other to enhance my dishes. I don’t use large complicated combinations of ingredients.
Do you ever go back to Italy to re- connect with the cuisine and your family?
I have quite a bit of family in Italy. Going [back] reminds me of my child- hood and my passion for food. We pick our produce at my family’s vegetable farm – fresh artichokes, wild asparagus, fresh figs, mandarin oranges. My uncles have olive trees and make their own olive oil. It’s an amazing experience. No one works when we visit; we plan our meals, pick our ingredients and help my aunts prepare our feast.
Tell me about your celiac options for specialty diets.
We lightly flour our calamari but do not use breadcrumbs. We have a gluten-free flour that is excellent and our Pan-fried Calamari is a definite favorite!
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?
Cook with passion... Also too many young chefs use too little salt and too much garlic!
Do you have favorite ingredients that you go back to time and time again when creating dishes?
Extra virgin olive oil, garlic, basil – the building blocks for southern Italian cooking.
Do you have any special dishes lined up for Valentine’s Day?
We are still finalizing our Valentines Day menu but Veal Osso Bucco and grilled Rack of Lamb will definitely be on the menu. On holidays, we always offer our regular dinner in addition to special menus.
RECIPE: Bucatini Amatriciana
Serves 4-6 people
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 ounces Guanciale or Pancetta, cut in 1/4-inch strips
• 2 large onions, cut in 1⁄2 inch dice • 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• Kosher salt
• 2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 pound bucatini
• 1⁄2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for garnish
1. Coat a large saucepan with olive oil.
2. Add the guanciale and sauté over low heat. Cook until it is brown and crispy and has ren- dered a lot of fat. Bring the pan to a medium heat and add the onions and crushed red pepper. Season generously with salt, to taste. Cook the onions until they are translucent and starting to turn golden. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust the salt, as needed.
3. Bring a large pot of well- salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta from the water and add to the pot of sauce. Stir to coat with the sauce. This is how you always finish pasta; you cook it in the sauce to perform the marriage of the pasta and the sauce. Add in the cheese and drizzle with olive oil.