Behind every good man is a good woman — and that goes for star chef Rocco DiSpirito, too. His charming mother, Nicolina, who hails from Naples, has been integral to his relaunch of Jeffrey Chodorow’s Tuscan Steak, which officially opens today as the softer and more authentic Northern Italian restaurant Tuscan.
Central to the revised menu is Nicolina’s frittata, plucked from the DiSpirito family’s recipe archive. “It’s perfect with a salad and glass of wine,” she trills in her thick accent. “You have everything!”
This story first appeared in the February 27, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Did Mom always know Rocco was destined for fame and fortune as a chef? “He doesn’t have a rich mama, so he had to do things by himself,” she says. And that includes cooking lasagna professionally at age 13.
But according to Mom, the key to Rocco’s success is something else. “My boy has heart, such a good heart,” she adds. “You can not believe it.”
The DiSpirito Frittata
10 whole eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 roasted bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 Idaho potatoes, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano and basil
Salt and pepper
Set oven to 350 degrees. Blanch the potatoes in salted boiling water. Drain. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper.
Heat a nonstick sauté pan or cast-iron pan until very hot. Sauté onions, potatoes, and peppers quickly, in a bit of olive oil, so they’re lightly caramelized. Add the remaining oil.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Gently slide a spatula under the frittata as it cooks. Cook for two to three minutes, until a crust forms on the bottom.
Transfer the frittata to the oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes, flipping it midway through. Insert a toothpick in the frittata: if egg sticks to the toothpick, it’s not ready yet.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves four.