Chef Steve has been working on some new summer dishes and he’s already talking about what he wants to add to our fall menu. He’s excited about offering seasonality to our guests and the opportunity for new diners to discover the restaurant. When I ask him about the secret to making great pasta, he says, “it’s all very traditional what we do here and what Francesco does - it’s not reinventing anything but it is authentic and it is one hundred percent about mastering your craft and having the touch. And Francesco has the touch.”
Chef Steve and Francesco have been working on a new pasta shape. It’s another pasta that they are adding to the already hefty workload of making “all the pastas" for the restaurant by hand and rolled out al mattarello (with a rolling pin). There are no pasta machines in use at Rossoblu. Every pasta is the artisanal effort of Francesco Allegro, our sfoglino, who makes fresh pasta sheets with nothing more than flour, eggs, and a trusty rolling pin.
For the weekend service, Francesco’s going to need 120 eggs to hand mix into Double Zero Flour which he will then roll out masterfully with one of his prized rolling pins. The one he’s now using is made from Canadian poplar. “It’s not too heavy on the dough,” he says. Once the sheets are rolled out and dried, Francesco will begin the work that goes into making the seven to ten pastas that are featured nightly on our Rossoblu menu.
“There’s no book that can teach you how to make pasta and no machines to make great pasta,” Francesco says. “It’s an art you learn from others and by doing.”
Chef Steve is inspired by the latest pasta shape and the summer ingredients that will go with it. The shape is a corn caramelle. It’s a stuffed pasta with twists on both sides like a candy wrapper. It will end up being served with pioppini mushrooms, Parmigiano Reggiano and summer truffles.
The following morning is bright and a bit balmy in the Pasta Workshop. The previous night’s service has gone well and the corn caramelle is now all sold out. The preparation for today’s dough is on track, and Chef Steve and Francesco are talking about “getting the technique down” for another pasta shape.
In the meantime, there are more sheets to be rolled out, and more shapes to be made: maltagliati, pappardelle and tagliatelle; the tortellini and the tortelloni need to be stuffed. The chefs also need to prepare for another service while planning what they will teach their students at our new pasta school: Pastificio La Dotta.
I ask Steve what excites him about teaching people how to make pasta. “The school is ultimately about community and connection,” Steve says. “And watching people learn and get better - from fellow professionals to people who love to cook at home.”
I ask Steve and Francesco if they ever feel any “pressure” making all of the restaurant’s pasta from scratch. The question seems odd to them. Francesco shakes his head and says, “this is what we do and what we teach our team. There is no other way.”
I turn to Chef Steve and ask him again: “So - what’s the secret to making great pasta, Chef?”
Steve doesn’t hesitate. “Passion and craft,” he says. “And, of course, love.”