Anthony M. DiCocco, a private chef, divides his time between Lynbrook and Los Angeles.
When and how did you learn to cook?
I got into cooking through my grandmother Angela Spierto and my mother, Stephanie Spierto. When I was a kid I always went to the kitchen, I was always picking at the food, always wondering what they were cooking. They did pretty much authentic Italian cooking, so that’s where I started. To this day, I’m drawn to my mom’s kitchen. If I’m sleeping at her house and she starts cooking some onions and garlic in olive oil, that’s my wake-up call.
How did you move into cooking as a career?
I took a job in a local bar kitchen. I wanted to learn more about food, so I ventured off to New York City. I landed a job at Il Pesce in Eataly, the big Italian market, where we worked with fresh local and Italian ingredients. Chef David Pasternack offered me a job at Esca, the great Italian fish restaurant. To take my culinary education further, I bought a one-way ticket to L.A. I showed up unannounced at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, asked for the chef, and said I wasn’t leaving until I had a job. After another job at Craig’s, I went out on my own and have been a private chef and caterer for some of those restaurant customers, a lot of CEOs, celebrities.
How would you describe your style?
My cooking style is authentic Italian with a little bit of New York and a little bit of L.A. I say it’s kind of a modern authentic style. The most important thing for me is to feed everyone — customers, friends, family — to bring back memories or make new ones.
Where does this recipe come from?
Fresh pasta is one of the things I’m always working on, learning how to do different types of cuts, ravioli fillings. Pasta is my go-to and something I plan on perfecting. I’ve always been a big fan of cream sauces. Cheese is a necessity. It’s a thickening agent as well as adding flavor. I wanted to create something rich but also light. So I incorporated peas and sun-dried tomatoes. Italians love truffles, so a drizzle of white truffle oil is the icing on the cake.
Any tips for success?
If you are going to make your own pasta, have patience. You can’t be too rough with it. The sauce comes together pretty quickly and easily. Just enjoy the fact that you’ve created this dish and enjoy all the flavors that are incorporated. It will make you feel good.
TRUFFLE SUN-DRIED TOMATO FETTUCCINE ALFREDO
DiCocco makes his own pasta using a hand-crank pasta machine. But you can use any good-quality fresh pasta in this recipe.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
5 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 pound fresh fettuccine
White truffle oil for drizzling
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add the heavy cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened. Stir in the cheese a little bit at a time until melted. Stir in the peas. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Stir the reserved pasta water into the sauce, and then stir in the pasta, mixing to coat. Divide between pasta bowls, drizzle each bowl with a little truffle oil, and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.