Chef Q+A: Luigi Criscuolo

When you were 15 years old and new to cooking, what mistakes did you make?

When I started, almost all I did was bad. I loved using many “heavy” ingredients and too much oil. I liked tasty, fried, fattening dishes. After a few months, I corrected my mistakes.

In the past, you have owned a restaurant. What are you doing now as a chef?

Good question. I owned a restaurant in the past. I’ll definitely open one again in the future, but I cannot accept the idea of leaving the stoves. I love cooking too much and would literally live in the kitchen.

What are the proper accompaniments for linguini: protein, beverages, and anything else?

When I think about linguini, I automatically think about claims, cherry tomatoes, Italian parsley, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic. A nice bottle of my beloved “greco di tuff,” a great southern Italian wine.

What are some of your other favorite pastas to cook for clients?

I love seafood! I love cooking ravioli, lobster with ricotta cheese, and spaghetti with shrimp and zucchini. I love to use porcini. Porcini is a respected Italian mushroom.

Which traditional Italian entrees do Americans misinterpret when we try to prepare them?

Mmmm, there is something out there really, but one of the top is chicken. In America, chicken is overused and in italy we not really eat the dish you have, chicken parmigiana. Our alfredo sauce is originally white, made of just butter and parmesan cheese. Americans use too much heavy cream almost everywhere.

How are we making the tomato sauce incorrectly?

There are too many tomato sauce recipes. My tomato sauce is only peeled garlic, extra virgin olive oil, good tomatoes, salt, and of course, basil.

What is the difference between Manhattan pizza and typical pizza eaten in Italy?

There is only one. pizza in the world: neapolitan pizza! Yes, I’m sorry about that, but I’m neapolitan, and I’m so proud of my pizza, and for me, it is the only one in the world. The rest is just a variant of the real pizza, so different really that I do not even call it pizza.

Is it true that many Italians eat healthy dessert such as fruit on most days instead of a rich tiramisu?

Dessert is eaten everyday in Italy. We love fruit for dessert, but chocolate for dessert and tiramisu are never missing on the Italian table. Cannoli is the most known Italian dessert in the world.

Which meal do you recommend for someone to cook for entertaining a romantic interest?

I remember one of my romantic dinners with my wife. Nova salmon bruschetta as an appetizer. Risotto with lobster. Grilled Hawaiian prawns to share, and chocolate lava cake. A few days later, that girl became my wife. She still is!

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