Viola tells us "a good linguine alle vongole is still considered a litmus test for any Italian restaurant". Her version of this classic recipe is presented below for your cooking enjoyment - Buon Appetito!
Here’s a fun bonus: if you haven’t had the pleasure of cooking (and dancing) with Viola in the kitchen, we asked her a few questions to give you a peek into her world. Enjoy!
What's your favorite cooking tip? “Cooking is an all encompassing sensorial activity in which taste comes last. Before tasting your food look, listen, smell and touch.”
What's the kitchen tool you can’t live without? “I cannot live without a zester. It allows for an even distribution of flavor, it has shaped a whole new relationship with lemon zest for home cooks.
What are you cooking at home the most right now? “Unsurprisingly, I am cooking more pasta than I usually do, for almost every lunch. My son and I just polished off half a pound of handmade tagliatelle all’amatriciana. Fresh and boxed, short and long, smooth and ridged, I am swimming through a beautiful ever-changing ocean. Pasta is easy, pasta is delicious, and most of all, pasta is home.”
What fruit or vegetable can you not get enough of this season? “Cherries and apricots are my 2 equally favorite fruits, from start to end of their brief season I eat as many as I can to get my yearly fill. In the vegetable realm, I am swooned by anything tiny that speaks of the re-birth of the world that is spring.. Little gems, French radishes, tender zucchini, baby cabbages are all in my refrigerator as I write.”
Who's your cooking idol? “My mother, because she cooked and trained cooks for a large household, visiting relatives and a never-ending flux of friends and she never lost her zest for it.”
What's the cookbook you turn to most? “Il Talismano della Felicità by Ada Boni. It is a 1930's bible of Italian cuisine that was given to young brides, as good cooking was considered critical to a happy married life. The interesting bit is that it was written by a professional woman cook who was able to do what her male colleagues weren’t: translate recipes to fit into the specs of a domestic kitchen.”
What's something you’ve learned to cook or bake recently? “I learned to cook a bouillabaisse by a Michelin starred chef, it was delicious and it taught me that I still prefer my Italian zuppa di pesce.”
What's your favorite place to eat in the Mission and why? “La Taqueria. Flavors are fresh and unapologetic, they have a stable team which means workers are treated well, they are unfussy and humble about what they do and use parts of the animals that are often discarded. Their tongue tacos are one of my top 5 foods in San Francisco.”