Tony Caruana - Luce
Chef Antonio Caruana, owner of Norfolk’s Luce restaurant, prepares dishes from his heart and soul, while paying respect to the origins and traditions of Italian food, bringing it together with his own twist, taste and flair! Caruana is in the process of opening his second restaurant Luce Secondo at Summit Point in Chesapeake.
- Can you tell us what you're making today?
- Ah okay, today I'm gonna make mafalde
or mafaldine di guanciale, which is a pasta dish.
Mafalda is this type of pasta.
It's a little bit of a rigid pasta.
Guanciale is an Italian term for a hog jowl.
So it's a real nice nutty flavor.
And it's just an absolute delicacy.
Very nice simmer dish, all in one pan.
You can do this quite quickly,
but when it's done right, it's absolutely,
it's just amazing.
So I'd throw mine before you today.
- So I'm gonna start a little bit of extra virgin olive oil,
and then we're gonna go right ahead
and render down our meat with that.
We want to do it at the same type of temperature
so we don't fry it too fast.
We want to bring it up to temperature with the oil
so that the beauty of this dish
is not specifically eating the meat.
It's eating the residuals or the renderings of the meat
passed in through the pasta.
The pasta is the showstopper.
So now that that's going, I'm gonna add my onion.
So this can be a little bit of white onion or shallot.
I'm gonna let that cook off.
Stir my pasta here a little bit.
You want to make sure this pasta stays and remains al dente.
- Gotcha. - So now,
them onions are starting to sweat,
they're gonna get a little translucent.
It's working in time with temperature
with the whole dish here.
As you can see, everything's coming together real nice.
You can start to smell it now as well.
- It smells great.
- It smells great. (interviewer laughs)
It almost has a bacony smell,
but you can tell that it has a little,
a lot more earthiness.
I like something crisp.
A Pinot Grigio, a Vermentino, a Grillo, something like that.
It's gonna give it a nice acidic flavor.
And let that cook.
(upbeat music) (pan sizzling)
- Woo! - Turn that on nice.
- You can really smell that, smells nice.
- Now, I'm gonna add a little bit of a natural acidity here.
So I want to have some real tomato in here.
- And you make your own fresh pasta here?
- Yes, ma'am.
Everything is made here in-house.
- That's awesome. - We have six different
cuts of pasta and they're made fresh daily.
We make everything in-house.
There's nothing really here that's not made here.
The only thing not made here are the ingredients.
I'm gonna take my tomatoes now like this here.
That's gonna be the base of our sauce.
I'm gonna add a little Calabrese pepper here
for a little bit of nice natural heat.
As you can see, all the ingredients are natural.
There's nothing in here that's not good for you
in a sense, you know? - That's great.
- Of course, guanciale might not be
the best for your arteries. (interviewer laughs)
But it is the best for your tongue
and your mouth and your tastebuds
and your life and your soul. (interviewer chuckles)
So now, what I'm gonna do,
get a little bit of water in here from this pasta.
We want that starchy, nice water.
I'm gonna put a little bit here,
and we're gonna put this pasta right into it now.
This is how we're gonna cook with the rest of this pasta
the rest of the way.
Now, what I'm gonna do
is I'm gonna add a little bit of butter
'cause I'm gonna add back some of that fat we lost
if any, in that guanciale,
and this is gonna give it a real nice mouthfeel.
And a little bit of Pecorino Romano cheese.
This is sheep cheese.
A nice high-end sheep cheese out of Rome as well.
Gorgeous, see how that's
coming together beautifully? - Yeah.
- And there we have it.
Now we're gonna plate this,
and we're gonna eat as if we just conquered a village.
Pasta first, always the pasta and the sauce.
Toss your pasta with your sauce.
And the other trick is never oversauce your pasta.
And to finish this off, a little Grana Padano from Italy.
A little bit of micro basil on top,
just to keep the eyes right.
We eat with our eyes first,
as most every chef will tell you.
There you have it.
There you are.
- [Interviewer] Thank you.
- You're welcome.
Buon appetito. - Thank you.
This is beautiful.
Mmm, that's amazing.
- Very good, glad you like it.
Well, this is a nice Barbera.
The Alba-- - Cheers.
- One compliments the other for sure.
- Oh, that's nice.
- Yeah, perfect.
- So not only are these dishes beautiful,
but they're just incredibly delicious
and you put your own spin.
These are your recipes.
What's your source of inspiration?
- That guy, that's my father.
Pretty sure my dad and my family is all into cooking.
I grew up eating Italian food, of course.
Italy, Italian food for regional, mostly Romano area,
some Sicilian stuff.
My influences come from my childhood
and how it makes me think about,
the flavors were everything for me,
everything I did, even when I was growing up was that.
So now, as an adult, everything I do is based around food.
I won't go on a week-long vacation
unless there was someplace
or something based around food there.
That's kind of where I get my inspiration.
- [Interviewer] I love this because,
so you never stop learning.
It's always a process of learning,
seeing what others are doing.
- If you're cooking from a recipe,
that's when you stop learning.
If you're gonna continue moving past that recipe
and continue moving on your track,
you have to continuously learn.
Everything in the cooking game
is somewhat of a recipe in that aspect.
So you have to learn what it is and then your next step,
then your next step, then your next step.
Those who learn more steps will exceed further.
With every trend that comes around,
with every new ingredient that comes around,
with every fusion of regions that come around,
you're gonna continuously grow.
- I know.
I'm really excited that you're opening up
a second location in Chesapeake.
Can you tell me
a little bit about that? - Yeah, absolutely.
I'm very excited about it.
The same anxiety, excitement,
stress. - Of course. (chuckles)
- Everything that makes this place, what it is, is great.
Now I have to go do it again in a much bigger venue,
but I'm ready for that.
As a person, I'm very nervous.
As a chef, I'm excited as hell.
- I bet, I bet. - So.
But I'm definitely looking forward to,
to highlighting what we have and what we've always been.
And also bringing on new things
that I'm able to do over there
that a lot of people are just gonna be amazed with too.
- [Interviewer] You know, one of the things about Luce
when you come here is the food is just the highest quality.
Oftentimes with that comes a pretentiousness.
And in your restaurant,
you walk in the door and you feel like family.
- You should be happy and comfortable
and you should come here and eat
and know that you're coming here
and you're getting something good.
There is no pretentiousness here
because I don't want to hear it.
Take your tie down, relax and enjoy the best food you can.
That's what want.
- So we're sitting here with your dad,
got a picture of your dad.
Tell me about your dad and your family.
- When it comes to cooking and food,
my family had just made good food.
They still do.
My aunt is one of my favorite chefs in the world
and she's one of my inspirations.
My father was a chef worker.
You know, his love for food is where I got mine.
As far as recipes, people telling me all the time,
"Is this your grandparents' recipe?"
"Is this an old family recipe?"
No, I don't have that story.
It's been passed down for generations
well before my family.
What comes on my plate is inspired by my travels,
by my palette, by my thought.
And definitely-- - But I love that they
laid the foundation. - Definitely
inspired by my youth.
- So it was a big decision and a big undertaking
to open a restaurant.
What in the world made you enter this crazy world?
- So when I opened up this place,
it was very easy for me to do.
It was a very easy decision because I had nothing else.
And the only thing I knew is I wanted to cook.
I wanted to bring my stuff out.
And alls that I really wanted in this little place
was a nice wine bar and a martini bar
with a nice little menu.
As people started coming in,
the menu ended up being requested more.
Everything started rising,
and all of a sudden, it became the food, the food, the food.
So therefore people started coming in wanting more food.
Now it will be reconstructed, becoming a restaurant.
Now I'm busier
than I've ever been. (interviewer laughs)
I don't understand what the hell I did.
It went from what I wanted it to be
to this thing where it is now, and I'm very proud of it.
- Congratulations. - Thank you.
- I mean, this is,
it's such a wonderful restaurant
and the fact that you're opening a second location is huge,
but there's a saying that goes,
if it doesn't scare you a little bit, it's not worth it.
So there you go. - Right.
Mm-hmm. (interviewer chuckles)
Yeah, it really needs to petrify me.
- Yeah. (laughs) - You know?
You know? (chuckles)