How Nonna’s Recipes Turned A Little Italian Kitchen Into A Beloved NYC Restaurant

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Philip Guardione, Proprietor and Head Chef of Piccola Cucina grew up in a household that cooked, loads. Like so many Italians, particularly southern Italians, Sundays have been faith to eat and cook dinner collectively. “My grandmother would come and provides all the kids little jobs to assist put together the meal – partly to not get in bother,” says Guardione.

His Aunt and Grandmother would squabble going backwards and forwards within the kitchen over who made the very best parmigiana di melanzane or sauce. “They might combat over who would make the higher sauce. Or the very best lasagna, there was this rivalry each Sunday, a candy competitors. And so I grew up surrounded by this.” He nonetheless doesn’t say who made the very best sauce, to keep up diplomacy.

“I feel it was these occasions collectively, watching them cook dinner, tasting what they made, being a part of that have, that impressed me to develop into a chef myself,” he says.

At an early age, Guardione, was cooking professionally, his father had pushed him and his brothers to go overseas working within the high gourmand kitchens throughout Europe, “by the point I used to be in New York Metropolis in 2007, I had already labored in Switzerland, Paris, Milano each as a private chef but in addition as the top chef in giant resorts and eating places. So I arrived in New York with a portfolio.”

Guardione was solely supposed to come back to New York Metropolis for a go to, “however the power and vitality of the individuals bewitched me.” He stayed and a uncommon alternative introduced itself to open a restaurant with a partnership in New York, he later purchased out the associate, and Piccola Cucina was born.

However the preliminary ideations of Piccola weren’t the homey model it’s now synonymous for. “After I first started with the restaurant, I assumed to start out with extra gourmand delicacies. Whereas in actuality, we have been seeing purchasers needed one thing else. So I modified our menu, taking inspiration from what I grew up consuming at dwelling. I used to be impressed by the meals that my grandmother would make,” says Guardione.

When he went again to his roots and honored the flavors of his grandmother’s kitchen, the flavors of Sicily, his enterprise grew. “That was when every part modified and that’s actually what introduced our success – from these conventional easy dishes which have a recent contact. In the present day individuals need a lighter model of caponata for example.”

Utilizing humble substances and most significantly, the substances native to Sicily, like sardines, squid ink, swordfish, plum tomato enable the flavour of the dishes to sing. The menu is solely Sicilian, and no totally different than the little eating places within the streets of Catania with appetizers like grilled calamari with avocado and pane carasau or spaghetti with sea urchins ( all of the pasta is made in home) the menu isn’t fussy or overly difficult – identical to nonna used to make.

“I’m loopy concerning the ibicenco shrimp, it’s a small pink shrimp and due to our location in Ibiza we have been in a position to join our distributor there with our distributor right here in New York and we have been among the many first if not the primary restaurant to have this product within the metropolis.” this product lends for a fragile dish.

The purpose turned targeted on all the time retaining the meals easy, elevating the very best merchandise, and sparking a sensory reminiscence transporting who eats the dishes dwelling, to Sicily.

“In New York, there are such a lot of Italians and Italian-People, and once they eat a few of our merchandise, it triggers an emotion. I’ve had purchasers who get emotional when consuming an arancino! As a result of they bear in mind their origins, recollections.”

Guardione is innately Sicilian, he describes how his meals distributors are all the identical since once they began the restaurant, “Out of respect now we have to focus on the merchandise, the value doesn’t matter. Our meals proportion prices are fairly excessive however I relatively make much less cash however an amazing product relatively than make more cash instantly with a mediocre product.”

“Restoration should final over time. We now have to develop yearly, and we will solely do that with nice merchandise. We import most of our merchandise.”

Piccola Cucina has 5 lively places, 3 in Manhattan, 1 in Ibiza, and a pop-up in Montana. Guardione says he has plans to open a sixth location, a kind of Italian road meals supply.

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