At A Voce, Carmellini channels two grandmothers – and two schools of cooking.
Question: How does your grandmother influence your cooking?
Andrew Carmellini: Grandmother’s raviolis are something I was doing for years. I was doing them at Café Boulud. And I started them as a Sunday special just because it seemed, you know, within that context of kind of French/American international kind of flavors to have something on Sunday that was kind of comforting. Are they my grandmother’s raviolis exactly? No. I mean, she never used short ribs in them and, you know, didn’t use fresh tomato for the sauce. It’s kind of like an “inspiration” type of thing. But I’m Italian and Polish and that’s, you know, two good cooking cuisines. One doesn’t have a lot of vegetables in it, the other one does, but it’s, you know, two kind of good cooking cultures.
Question: What’s Polish on your menu?
Andrew Carmellini: Well, A Voce, I mean, it’s an Italian restaurant so I want to keep it Italian in spirit. You know, uptown when I was the chef at Café Boulud I had some of my grandmother’s pirogues on the menu, and they were pretty good. They got some, you know, they got some mentions. I didn’t really promote them or anything. I just put them on the menu just because I wanted to make some. And they were a little bit fancy. It was like three different flavors and I made a sauce with the juice from the sauerkraut, homemade sauerkraut, and it had like poppy seeds and Julian apple and stuff like that on it. So it was kind of like a fancy version of the pirogues that we used to buy when I was a kid at the pirogue church which was down the street.
Question: Two dumplings from two different grandmothers?
Andrew Carmellini: Yeah, it’s an interesting little, a similar thing. But the Bartines which are the-- half my Italian family is from Friuli, and they were a French family that immigrated from Paris to Friuli in the mid-1800s so my grandmother was half French and she also spoke highly of people like Escoffier and had all of these stories kind of mixed in there.