The White Bull offers a seasonal menu, with house-milled grains, local vegetables and grass-fed beef. At Alici, the focus is on oysters and seafood from the Amalfi Coast. Bastone is famous for its mozzarella and salumi bar. But more than anything, Pascarella may be best known for his handmade pastas and wood-fried Neapolitan pies at Grana.
Even though he cooks Italian food all day, Pascarella cooks Italian at home, too, catering to his children, 7-year-old Colin and 5-year-old Sophia. Though they don’t like many vegetables, they love meat, and Pascarella enjoys cooking them steaks on the grill with potatoes and onions.
“Especially at home, I’ve been more focused on what is the highest-quality meat you can buy, while being healthy,” Pascarella said. “We’re trying to do grass-fed and organic, and we’re trying to eat at home more. Colin literally eats all day long. I don’t know how he does it. He’ll be eating and talking about his snack five minutes later.”
Ironically perhaps, Megan is the pastry chef for the Porchetta Group, so she’s the keeper of the sweet treats the family loves.
Q: What are your favorite ingredients to cook with at home?
A: Olive oil, for sure, because there are so many flavor profiles. But I think smoke and fire is an ingredient as much as a technique.
Q: What is your go-to dish for a quick dinner?
A: It’s always cacio e pepe because it’s one of the only pasta things the kids will eat.
Q: When time is not a factor, what dish do you like to prepare for a meal at home?
A: For just me and my wife, it’s chicken cutlets, with a lot of Parmesan cheese, tons of lemon juice and a quick salad on the side. That’s our go-to.
Q: What is your signature dish to impress dinner guests?
A: I think I have some of the best Bolognese in the world. I use three different types of meat — veal, pork and beef. I also put chicken livers in mine. It gives it an earthy flavor. I cook it with chicken stock, red or white wine, and milk, and I like to top mine with a ball of burrata.
Q: What do you cook for yourself at the end of a long workday?
A: I grab whatever the kids didn’t eat. I won’t eat leftover pasta. But I will eat leftover lasagna.
Q: What is your favorite midnight snack?
A: For salty, it’s Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. For sweet, it’s my wife’s brownies. She makes these underbaked and really fudgy brownies. When you bite them, you’re wearing them.
Q: What is your favorite cookbook in your collection?
A: Right now, it’s “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” by Michael Solomonov (and Steven Cook). I like it because, if I didn’t cook Italian food, my go-to would probably be Middle Eastern. I just love those flavors.
Q: What are your three favorite kitchen tools or gadgets?
A: A Microplane, definitely, because there’s so many things you can just lightly grate into something to make it delicious. A citrus squeezer because I like to add lemon juice to almost everything. A nonstick pan because everyone needs one.
Q: What is your best kitchen hack?
A: Probably peeling garlic. Take the tops of it off real quick, and then throw it into a quart container (with a lid), shake it and it just peels itself.
Q: What ingredients do you always keep in your fridge?
A: There’s always grass-fed butter. There’s always frozen grass-fed beef burgers. And I always have capers.
Q: What do you think is the most underrated food and why?
A: Probably chicken thighs. You can braise them, shred them and put them over pasta or vegetables. Or you could just roast them or barbecue them.
Q: What is your worst home cooking disaster?
A: My wife wanted short ribs, so I get the Crock-Pot out, but I had never used a Crock-Pot in my life. So I throw everything in there, I hit the button, and I leave for the day. But when I get home that night, it turns out I never plugged it in.
Q: What are your best words of advice for home cooks?
A: Keep it extremely simple. Season with salt, but always use lemon juice instead of too much salt, and do not be afraid to use fat, including olive oil and butter.
Q: What music do you listen to when you cook?
A: Cher and Celine Dion, only. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you.
NY Strip Steaks with Ciambotta Salad
In Italy, Ciambotta is a vegetable stew, but recently Pascarella has been making what he calls Ciambotta “in a salad form.” In this recipe, grilled strip steaks are served with the bright fresh salad. Pascarella also adds a side dish of grilled potatoes and onions to the meal because “the kids like carbs.”
4 (14-ounce) New York strip steaks
Salt and pepper to taste
3 bell peppers
1 medium-size eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 red onion, sliced horizontally into 1/2-inch rounds
1 medium-size zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
15 cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
Heat a charcoal or gas grill to 600-650 degrees. Lightly oil the grate. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Sear for 3 minutes on each side, until the steaks register an internal temperature of 125 degrees for rare or 130 degrees for medium rare. Transfer steaks from the grill to a large plate and let rest. You can tent the steaks with foil to keep them warm. Reduce the grill temperature to 550 degrees.
Place the bell peppers, eggplant, red onion and zucchini rounds on the grill and sear on all sides until browned, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the bell peppers to a cutting board and slice them into thin strips, removing and discarding the stems, membranes and seeds. Place the bell pepper strips in a large bowl and add the eggplant, red onion, zucchini, and raw cherry tomatoes. Grate the clove of garlic over the mixture using a Microplane. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss with the basil, chili flakes, feta cheese and olives. Season with salt to taste.
Per serving, based on 4, steak and Ciambotta Salad only: 866 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 98 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams total sugars, 8 grams fiber, 44 grams total fat (11 grams saturated), 235 milligrams cholesterol, 530 milligrams sodium.
For nutritional calculations, the salt included is defined as 1/16 teaspoon.
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