Antonio Ruggerino, owner and head chef at Verde in Darlinghurst, is a master of traditional Italian cuisine and has been working as a professional chef since the age of 16. Despite growing up in the suburbs of Sydney, Antonio has extensive knowledge of Southern Italian cooking and produce and his passion in life is to bring this style of culinary art to his home of Australia.
Here we chat to Antonio about his unique style of cooking…
How did you first learn the art of cooking?
As a kid, when all my siblings and cousins were outside playing, I was in the kitchen learning to cook. It was mostly through my mum but also my aunts and grandmother that I learnt traditional Italian cooking.
What’s the concept behind your restaurant?
The concept is that it’s my home. I don’t invite people to my restaurant, I invite them to my home to cook them a delicious, honest meal. The style of the food is very much like home cooking and I want my customers to feel like they are eating at their friend’s or family’s place.
What are the top four essential Italian ingredients?
Olive oil, parsley, garlic and amore – you can’t make a great meal without love.
Do you have a signature dish you love cooking?
I actually have a few. There is the pork shank ragu, which takes four and a half hours of braising, and that is probably the most popular and famous dish from my restaurant. I also really love making our duck confit, served with homemade gnocchi.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner, whom would you invite?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I guess I would have to say Italian model and actress Monica Bellucci. It would be really hard to sit across a table from such a beautiful woman so I would have to have a drink or two.
• Antonio will be appearing on the Casa e Cucina stage at the Norton Street Festa, October 27th at 1.20pm, demonstrating how to make his favourite Calabrian dishes. Visit www.nortonstreetfesta.com.au for details.
Antonio’s Linguine Marinara
This traditional Marinara pasta dish is perfect for this time of year, as all produce is freshly caught in the waters that surround Calabria, Italy. So, when summer hits, there is a fun, fresh seafood affair happening everywhere. Enjoy!
8 prawns each
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch picked parsley
500g linguine pasta
320ml white wine
Salt, pepper and chilli
Extra virgin olive oil
Place the snapper, vongole, prawns, garlic, parsley, chilli and butter on a pizza tray large enough to cover the pan you will be using for cooking.
Heat a pan with vegetable oil till it starts to smoke, then pour all your ingredients in, followed instantly by the white wine (stand back, it will flame up) and cover with the pizza tray.
Check on your seafood every minute, taking out the vongole that have opened. Repeat until all vongole have opened and seafood is just cooked.
Cook linguine in (salted) water – once ready, place vongole back into the pan, add salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to taste and add your pasta.