We’d like to offer a warm welcome to Washington, DC to Massimo De Francesca, a Canadian/Italian chef who has cooked in Italy, Canada and Grand Cayman as he takes on the executive chef position Domaso Restaurant in the Hotel Palomar Arlington. Exciting additions to the menu at Domaso include a saffron scented pappardelle with wild mushroom ragu, creamed fennel and parmiggiano, a squash gnocchi with fontina fondue, thyme and pumpkin seed pesto, and braised beef short ribs served with yukon gold mashed potatoes and porcini with a marsala demi glace.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
My favorite kitchen gadget is a mini hand held battery operated frother. I use this to blend some of my sauces at the last moment, or to enjoy either an espresso macchiato or cappuccino at home.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
I try not to think of any cooking technique as overrated as different techniques work for different chefs and certain techniques are better suited for specific cuisines. However, I do believe in good old fashioned, natural slow cooking, and that I don’t believe will ever be overrated.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I’d enjoy opening a casual sports bar offering higher end New American cuisine.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
I’m new to the area and still learning about all the local farmers and purveyors in the region. So far, Smithfield’s Virginia ham has to be one my favorite local products which I use in one of my dishes.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Well there aren’t many, but I have to say that my biggest pet peeve is when customers order steak of some sort, and ask for it to be cooked medium-well, but they still want it to be juicy.
What do you drink/eat after work?
Water is my favorite drink by far as I drink at least 4 to 5 liters a day. After a long day’s work nothing is more refreshing then spring water.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
One of my favorite things to cook at home is an Italian style bouillabaisse. My other favorite thing, which doesn’t require too much cooking, is a peanut butter and nutella club sandwich. I make mine with three layers of wheat bread, with only one slice toasted for texture and the other slices smothered with peanut butter and nutella.
Photo by Darko Zagar
12 oz. Spaghetti noodles
5 oz. Virginia Ham – Thinly sliced into ¼ inch match sticks
2 Cloves Garlic – Peeled, center germ out, and finely chopped
2 Small Pieces Shallots – Peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns – Coarsely ground with pepper mill
4 Egg Yolks
8 oz. Heavy Cream
4 oz. Parmiggiano Cheese – Finely grated
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt to taste
2 oz. Dry White Wine
Begin by boiling 5 quarts of salted water in medium pot. In mixing bowl, add the egg yolks and add half of the cream, reserving the other half. Mix until smooth with whisk. In sauté pan, sauté shallots, garlic, peppercorns and ham for 5 minutes on medium heat. Do not brown. Add wine and simmer until dry. Add the rest of the cream and bring to simmer. Reduce by half. Once water has reached a boil, submerge the pasta and begin stirring after a few minutes, ensuring the noodles do not stick. Check suggested cooking time, which is usually 9-11 minutes. When the spaghetti is done, strain while reserving some of the pasta water. Add reserved pasta water into the sauté pan with ham and cream. Return to medium heat for a few minutes and bring back to a simmer. Take off the heat and pour in the egg yolk mix and grated parmiggiano cheese. Stir rapidly until egg yolks and cream cook and become thick. If too thick, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Serve in warmed pasta bowls or platter and garnish with freshly grated parmiggiano cheese. Top off with quail yolk (optional) for added richness and fresh ground pepper.