So you think you know spaghetti carbonara? You don’t know spaghetti carbonara. That is the theme of the Italian chef coalition ITChefs – GVCI’s current campaign to educate New Yorkers about the classic dish. TChefs – GVCI’, which stands for Virtual Group of Italian Chefs, is charging four of the city’s top Italian chefs to make it exactly according to the “authentic” recipe for one night. On Thursday, Cesare Casella of Maremma, Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Kevin Garcia of Accademia de Vino, and Ivan Beacco of Borgo Antico, will make the dish according to the master recipe approved by ITChefs – GVCI. Or will they? Like every traditional recipe in every cuisine, "authentic" carbonara changes with every chef that makes it.
In the wonderful world of pasta, there is the fresh (usually made with eggs and rolled-out), and there is the dried (usually eggless and extruded). And then there is the unusual hybrid of sorts that Marco Canora has recently introduced on his Insieme menu. While surfing the Web, as all blog-obsessed chefs are wont to do, Canora discovered an old Venetian–style hand-cranked pasta extruder known as the Bigolaro, a.k.a. the Torchio, and if he had his doubts about its decidedly low-tech looks, the price, at $280, was right. The rustic gadget, which was patented in 1875, clamps on to any sturdy tabletop, and although it requires the strength of two Greco–Roman wrestlers to operate, the results are worth the effort.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of Chelsea Market, a place we would avoid if there were anyplace else to get Setaro pasta. The supremacy of the Campagnan product, sold only in Buonitalia at the market, is something we never stop hearing about: last night, Kevin Garcia of Accademia del Vino told us, “All the top chefs I know use it it’s the pasta of choice, the best I’ve ever been able to find.” Mark Ladner of Del Posto, Jonathan Benno at Per Se, and any number of other food luminaries swear by the stuff. But why? Buonitalia co-owner Antonio Magliulo says, “This company, Setaro, is very small. They don’t produce a lot of pasta. And when they dry it, it’s at low temperatures, so it keeps the flavor and texture. The way it cooks, the bite that it keeps it’s something special.”
We showed up at Babbo early Friday evening with hopes of squeezing into the bar. Surprisingly, we were offered a table in the front room almost immediately. And then, seven courses into our eight-course pasta tasting, the manager appeared and asked if we would move inside the dining room to complete our meal. Were we eating too slow? Why would they make us get up when we were nearly done? Whatever the case, we were blunted by carbs, and obliged. One comped dessert later, we were on our way out, and discovered just what had precipitated the move: Mario Batali himself was sitting in our seat. Luckily, we weren’t under him when he took it. — Jennifer Cacicio
With high fanny-packing season winding down, we thought we’d take the pulse of the restaurant that serves fettuccine Alfredo (using the original recipe) in the belly of the beast Rockefeller Center. Luckily, Josh Marmer, manager and head waiter at Alfredo of Rome, survived to tell all.