I was very excited to find this article (about this local favorite restaurant in nearby Nusco) from Bon Appetit on epicurious.com … I hope you enjoy the read!
“Antonio Pisaniello is the chef American chefs go to when they’re in need of inspiration. He’s this secret region’s secret weapon. Here’s the story and the recipes behind the legend.
In a small southern Italian village called Nusco, an affable chef named Antonio Pisaniello strolls the Sunday farmers’ market, picking out the ingredients that will make their way into lunch later that day at his restaurant, La Locanda di Bu. There is a bright saffron bouquet of fiori di zucca, bundles of just-picked bitter field greens; pure white cow’s-milk ricotta still warm from the making; and perfectly streaked pancetta. “La Locanda” has become a culinary mecca here in the province of Avellino, in the interior part of Campania — all’interno, as the Italians call it.
This mountainous region is not as well-known as the sunny Amalfi Coast and the boisterous pizza capital of Naples that lie an hour or so to the west. And Antonio Pisaniello is this secret region’s secret weapon, a sort of culinary guru to American foodies, from chefs to restaurateurs — and now, with the recipes here, to home cooks, too.
To fully understand the power of Pisaniello’s food, you first have to talk to the pros: California restaurateur Victoria Libin fell under the spell of his cooking during a culinary tour of Campania. Her critically acclaimed San Francisco restaurant A16 is named for the highway that cuts through the region. She sent the restaurant’s opening chef, Christophe Hille, to study with Pisaniello in Nusco. “If Antonio hadn’t taken in our chef and taught him everything, we probably wouldn’t have this restaurant,” says Libin. Ore Dagan, production supervisor at Paul Bertolli’s new Berkeley-based company, Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Salumi, spent five months working in Pisaniello’s kitchen. Dagan saw Pisaniello sway the locals away from the Italian tendency to eat with a hyper-regional bias. And this was no small feat. “He cooked amazing seafood that even the locals could love,” says Dagan. “Because they’re mountain people, this is not something they were familiar with.” Rocco DiSpirito was so blown away by a meal prepared by Pisaniello that he invited him to cook at his restaurant in New York. Pisaniello was the Italian guy bringing a bit of the Old World to the very New World circus that was DiSpirito’s reality TV show, The Restaurant. DiSpirito describes Pisaniello as having an uncanny ability to find that sweet spot between traditional Italian cooking and his own personality. “He has a true sensibility that few people have,” says DiSpirito. “It’s something that I hoped I had when I was a young chef. I think he has a sixth sense.”
That sixth sense comes through in the following recipes. In their minimalism they can seem both traditional and modern. The handmade Irpinian pasta (Irpinia is another name for the province of Avellino) is prepared with just flour, water, olive oil, and salt and is served with a simple fresh cherry tomato sauce studded with pancetta and fresh oregano; it’s a bright new angle on an old standby. Humble white bean soup gets a welcome sweet-hot hit from spicy polenta. Ricotta gnocchi are fried for a little crunch and sauced with an earthy purée of broccoli. This is food that is both new and unmistakably Italian — delicious and thoroughly inspiring. ”
— Carla Capalbo, Bon Appétit, September 2006
Photo From: www.borghitalia.it
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