Chef Roberto Patriarca is the talent behind the newest pasta bar in NYC. Spina features fresh made pasta with a Neapolitan flair and some killer wines. Chef Patriarca’s squid in risotto and their grilled mortadella are simply delectable. He has taken his passion and the experience he gained at i Trulli and Felidia to make this place a respite for the hungry. Here’s what he had to say when we interviewed him yesterday.
FriendsEAT: Did you grow up in the kitchen?
Chef Roberto Patriarca: My father owned restaurants in Formia and Scauri when I was growing up so I’ve always been in restaurants. Ever since I was 13, I’ve known that I wanted to be a chef. Being in these restaurants enabled me to be where I am now.
FE: Who was the biggest influence in your cooking?
CRP: My mother. Much of my cooking style now has to do what I saw when I was growing up in my house. Obviously, I have learned my own style, but she is definitely the person who influenced me the most.
FE: So what made you decide to make cooking your life?
CRP: My father influenced me to go to culinary school and for once in my life, I took his advice. It turned out to be a pretty good piece of advice to listen to. After culinary school, I came to the States and was able to find my way and work at some rather prestigious establishments. Spina is definitely the culmination of my career and I look forward to the challenges of running my own kitchen.
FE: What misconceptions do you see from people entering the field?
CRP: It isn’t all glitz and glamour. Just like any other profession, you really have to work your way from the bottom up. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of time to perfect your style of cooking. With all the celebrity chefs on television these days, it is very easy to get caught up in what’s not reality. Ask any celebrity chef where he came from and I guarantee that none of them started on the top. They all had to work for it. I tell people who want to become chefs to not meddle and always put their best foot forward. It is a rewarding choice only if you can achieve the goals you set forth. If your heart isn’t in it, it will come through in your cooking.
FE: And what would be your advice to them?
CRP: Practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but be sure to learn from them. And, don’t get discouraged, it is impossible to please everyone.
FE: What are the three cooking gadgets you just can’t live without?
CRP: Board used to make my Malloreddus, my ceramic knife, and my immersion blender.
FE: And what is the funniest thing that happened in your kitchen?
CRP: When a server walked into the kitchen holding a salad and proclaimed, “this is supposed to be a chicken Caesar salad!” I took, the salad plate and rotated it around so he could see the chicken that actually was sitting on the other half of the plate that he overlooked. He simply turned around and stormed out the kitchen. Servers are a funny bunch.
FE: As if we need to ask, what is your favorite ingredient?
CRP: Fresh pasta.
FE: If you’re home, what are we most likely to find you eating?
CRP: Sushi and Chinese food.
FE: And your favorite cookbook?
CRP: Casare Casella’s “Diary of a Tuscan Chef”
FE: Is there an ettiquette in your kitchen that you pride yourself in?
CRP: Yes, beers promptly served to my guys at 11. Is it 11 yet?
FE: Amen to that and thanks to Chef Roberto Patriarca for his time and for sharing this delicious recipe with us.
Farfalle With Chanterelle Mushrooms and Speck
1 lb fresh farfalle (bowtie pasta)
3 oz speck, cubed
4 oz chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and halved if small, quartered if large
2 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin for cooking)
1 tbsp butter
2 oz white cooking wine
8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for finishing)
4 oz grated parmigiano reggiano
1 tbsp parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the farfalle, and cook until al dente. The individual bowties will float when they’re done. Drain the pasta.
In a frying pan, saute the speck and chanterelle mushrooms in olive oil. Once the speck starts to brown, add the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the wine. Once the wine reduces, slowly stir in the cream.
Toss cooked farfalle, a touch of extra virgin olive oil, grated parmigiano reggiano, and freshly chopped parsley into the pan. Toss together well, and serve.
Hungry? Head to Spina to sample Chef Roberto’s delicious creations
175 Avenue B
New York, New York 10009
Have you been there? Tell us what you think.
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