How Nonna’s Recipes Turned A Small Italian Kitchen area Into A Beloved NYC Cafe

Philip Guardione, Operator and Head Chef of Piccola Cucina grew up in a family that cooked, a large amount. Like so a lot of Italians, specially southern Italians, Sundays have been religion to consume and prepare dinner jointly. “My grandmother would occur and give all the children little jobs to assistance put together the meal—in component to not get in issues,” claims Guardione.

His Aunt and Grandmother would squabble going back and forth in the kitchen in excess of who made the best parmigiana di melanzane or sauce. “They would combat above who would make the greater sauce. Or the best lasagna, there was this rivalry every Sunday, a sweet levels of competition. And so I grew up surrounded by this.” He still doesn’t say who built the ideal sauce, to keep diplomacy.

“I feel it was people situations collectively, watching them cook dinner, tasting what they manufactured, staying portion of that working experience, that encouraged me to turn into a chef myself,” he suggests.

At an early age, Guardione, was cooking skillfully, his father experienced pushed him and his brothers to go abroad functioning in the leading gourmet kitchens across Europe, “by the time I was in New York City in 2007, I experienced already worked in Switzerland, Paris, Milano both as a private chef but also as the head chef in significant accommodations and dining places. So I arrived in New York with a portfolio.”

Guardione was only supposed to arrive to New York Metropolis for a pay a visit to, “but the electrical power and vitality of the folks bewitched me.” He stayed and a uncommon prospect introduced by itself to open up a cafe with a partnership in New York, he afterwards purchased out the husband or wife, and Piccola Cucina was born.

But the initial ideations of Piccola have been not the homey version it is now synonymous for. “When I 1st started with the cafe, I thought to start out with a lot more gourmand delicacies. Whilst in reality, we were being looking at shoppers desired anything else. So I improved our menu, getting inspiration from what I grew up feeding on at house. I was impressed by the food items that my grandmother would make,” suggests Guardione.

When he went back to his roots and honored the flavors of his grandmother’s kitchen area, the flavors of Sicily, his business enterprise grew. “That was when all the things changed and that is genuinely what introduced our success—from these conventional very simple dishes that have a up to date contact. Nowadays individuals want a lighter model of caponata for instance.”

Working with humble components and most importantly, the ingredients native to Sicily, like sardines, squid ink, swordfish, plum tomato make it possible for the taste of the dishes to sing. The menu is purely Sicilian, and no different than the little places to eat in the streets of Catania with appetizers like grilled calamari with avocado and pane carasau or spaghetti with sea urchins ( all the pasta is made in house) the menu is not fussy or extremely complicated—just like nonna made use of to make.

“I’m mad about the ibicenco shrimp, it’s a tiny crimson shrimp and since of our site in Ibiza we were equipped to hook up our distributor there with our distributor below in New York and we had been between the initial if not the 1st restaurant to have this item in the metropolis.” this product or service lends for a delicate dish.

The intention grew to become focused on generally maintaining the meals easy, elevating the very best merchandise, and sparking a sensory memory transporting who eats the dishes home, to Sicily.

“In New York, there are so quite a few Italians and Italian-Individuals, and when they eat some of our items, it triggers an emotion. I have had customers who get emotional when having an arancino! Since they remember their origins, recollections.”

Guardione is innately Sicilian, he describes how his foodstuff distributors are all the similar because when they started out the restaurant, “Out of respect we have to concentrate on the solutions, the rate does not matter. Our foodstuff share charges are quite superior but I relatively make fewer income but a good products somewhat than make more cash promptly with a mediocre solution.”

“Restoration will have to final around time. We have to develop per year, and we can only do this with terrific goods. We import most of our products and solutions.”

Piccola Cucina has 5 energetic locations, 3 in Manhattan, 1 in Ibiza, and a pop-up in Montana. Guardione claims he has programs to open a sixth location, a type of Italian road food supply.