Chef: Giovanni Terraglia
Restaurant: Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano, 599 S. Collier Blvd., 389-1888
Title: Executive Chef
Began working at present restaurant: It’s been almost three years — shortly after I sold my restaurant, La Café Des Artiste, located in Naples. But the first time I worked at Da Vinci’s occurred eight years ago.
Where did you do your training?
I apprenticed at the restaurant where my father was chef/owner and also in Italy.
What was your first restaurant job?
At the Concha D’Oro, the restaurant my father opened in 1967 in New Jersey, where he is still the chef and owner.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
How would you describe your cooking style?
Mediterranean coastal cuisine — I’m knowledgeable in the preparation of dishes from any one of those countries, Italy, France, or Spain — and even Morocco.
What is your most popular dish?
We’re famous for veal dishes like our Veal Da Vinci and Osso Buco but our 16-ounce Veal Chop Milanese served on arugula salad is also popular.
Where do you like to eat out on the island?
I don’t have a preference — occasionally I like to visit the various restaurants and see what the chefs are cooking.
What is your favorite comfort food?
I enjoy eating sushi.
Do you cook at home? If so, what do you cook for your family?
Yes, sometimes I cook with my wife — usually a basic traditional American dish like beef pot roast.
What is your specialty?
I’m very versatile and I enjoy a challenge, especially when a customer leaves it up to me to create a new dish that’s unique and exclusive — it’s nice when people have an open mind. Just this past weekend I created a dish of rabbit leg sautéed with garlic, rosemary and sherry. I grew up in Italy in a town north of Salerno, a city famous for fresh buffalo mozzarella and where I also learned to make the fresh cow’s milk mozzarella we serve in Da Vinci’s along with our homemade breads and special desserts.
What was your worst kitchen disaster?
It happened on a busy Sunday night at our old location, facing Winterberry. A sudden summer thunderstorm caused a power outage and we had to use candle light to cook and serve dinners to a roomful of customers!
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
The knowledge you gain — something new every day makes it exciting and the customer’s appreciation of good food makes it enjoyable.