Don Angie, a new restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, has been nigh impossible to get a table at since it opened late last year, though a formidable mix of rave reviews from critics and spectacularly photogenic food circulating on Instagram. So, we brought the party to the SAVEUR, welcoming husband and wife team Angela Rito and Scott Tacinelli to bring their boundary-pushing takes on Italian-American cooking to the test kitchen.
Their creativity was evident from the first plates. A garlic flatbread appetizer was sprinkled with sesame seeds, with a flaky dough that reminiscent of a takeout Chinese scallion pancake, and a salad of chrysanthemum flowers evoked a Caesar with a pillowy covering of parmesan and sesame bread crumbs. A prime rib braciole paid tribute to Sunday suppers in New Jersey, and a show-stopping timballo, an enormous baked barrel of pasta paid tribute to Tony Shalhoub in Big Night. All of this was paired with wine from the old country: The Italian Trade Agency came with vino from up and down the boot, from a delicate Nebbiolo from the Piedmont highlands to a powerful Nero d’Avola from Sicily.
It’s long been accepted that the food made by Italian immigrants to America and their descendants is a distinct cuisine from anything you might find in Tuscany or Sicily, worthy of appreciation on its own. Rito and Tacinelli’s cooking pushes that logic to a wonderful extreme: the wild diversity of what could be considered “American” food in these days means Italian-American food can draw from global influences and make perfect, delicious sense.