It’s been a hot minute since I shared a recipe here, and it is with bittersweet tidings that I return to you with this one; a deliciously simple and evocative Italian dish in honour of a true Italian food legend.
As 2017 began, we finished up a week of filming in Connecticut at the Overabove studio with Royal Caribbean and our dear friends, the Von Family. We arrived at Cafe Allegre for our post-filming celebrations, and were greeted warmly by our wrap party host and shoot director, Ralph Guardiano, who was positively thrilled (and adamant) that we would enjoy “the best Italian food” that Connecticut had to offer. As plate after delicious plate arrived at our table, we chatted, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I remarked to Ralph that, while the restaurant was elegant, it was comfortably charming, inviting and thoroughly unpretentious. Ralph said it was “exactly that”, adding that he saw Cafe Allegre as an extension of his own home, often finding comfort in Chef Silvio Suppa’s authentic Southern Italian flavours and kind conversation after a hectic day at work.
Before bringing Chef Silvio to our table around the time dessert was served, Ralph mentioned that Chef Silvio was a very humble man; a man who preferred to express himself through his food rather than by singing his own praises about his food. I was given a signed copy of his book, Cooking with Chef Silvio, as he smiled at our party warmly, evidently very pleased that we were enjoying our time in his establishment.
We had an extremely early flight departure from Hartford the next morning and left the restaurant knowing we’d get just 2-3 hours of sleep before moving on. But our night out in Madison more than compensated for the lack of sleep, and the entire Connecticut trip remains one of our fondest family travel memories.
Last year I spoke with a good friend of the Suppa family and was very saddened to hear that Chef Silvio passed away mere months after our visit to Cafe Allegre, the restaurant he had run with his family by his side for 20 years. I had promised him earlier that year that I would cook from his book back in my Swedish home kitchen.
And so I have.
Today, with his son’s permission, I am sharing a very special recipe with you – one of my personal favourites – in dedication to one of Connecticut’s culinary treasures and beloved celebrity chefs. Chef Silvio’s focus was always about passing the traditions he grew up with onto others, and cooking farm-to-table with honest flavours and organic produce. There is surely nothing that would make him happier than knowing people are continuing to enjoy his food… and that his legacy lives on through his family, the work of his son, Chef Ilario Suppa, at Cafe Allegre, and his authentic recipes from Campania.
Salute, e buon appetito!
Love, Marisa x
For more of Chef Silvio’s recipes, refer to Cooking with Chef Silvio
To find out about current news and events at Cafe Allegre or browse the menus, visit cafeallegre.com
*The links in this post are not affiliate links, but shared for your information.
CHEF SILVIO’S VERMICELLI ALLA MARINARA
(Vermicelli with Marinara Sauce)
Prep time: 30 minutes
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 pounds (900 g) ripe plum tomatoes, halved, squeezed to expel seeds and coarsely chopped or 32 ounces (900 g) canned San Marzano tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
15-20 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
2 tbsp capers
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (450 g) Italian vermicelli pasta
1 cup (240 ml) fresh basil leaves, half torn
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and parsley and sauté only for a few seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for just a few minutes or until the tomatoes soften but still retain their shape without breaking down into a sauce.
- Add olives, capers and salt and pepper to taste.
- In a separate pot, cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, following the directions on the package.
- Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and add the tomato sauce. Add the torn basil and stir well.
- Serve immediately in a pasta bowl, garnished with the whole basil leaves.
Recipe shared with permission from Chef Ilario Suppa, from his father’s book, Cooking with Chef Silvio (State University of New York Press, 2010)
“Quando un paese perde la sua lingua e le sue usanze e cultura,
perde la sua identita”
(When a place loses its language, customs and culture, it loses its identity.)
Chef Silvio Suppa, 1947 – 2017