Carlo Cracco: all the energy of spaghettoni and spaghettini

Identità New York 9 ends with a lesson by the chef from Vicenza on the possibilities offered by pasta and its format par excellence

Carlo Cracco, born in 1965, since February 21st at

Carlo Cracco, born in 1965, since February 21st at the helm of Cracco in Galleria, in Milan (photo Brambilla/Serrani)

«Now Milano is full of energy», this is how Paolo Marchi introduces the last of 5 lessons held in New York, before the Identità Golose team moves to Los Angeles. The most famous chef in town gets on stage: «Carlo Cracco, on top of being a special person, perfectly represents this magical moment because he always looks ahead».

Since the 21st of February the chef from Vicenza has been doing so at Galleria, a huge project which he presents in detail, floor by floor (5 in total, for 1,200 square metres), to the American audience at Eataly’s Scuola. «It’s true that a great energy runs through Milan», he begins in English, «I’m very happy to have opened in the most beautiful place in town, with my wife and a team of 80 people. I’m very happy to make, pizza, risotto and pastries in a place open from 8 am to 11 pm. A sustainable place, and coherent with its surroundings. A place of work where you can live and create freely». 

Creating, for instance, the two magnificent spaghetti dishes served to some 50 guests in the shade of the Flatiron with the help of Luca Pedata, chef at Carlo e Camilla in SegheriaCracco’s second establishment in Milan (plus there’s a third one: Garage Italia). This is the worthy consequence of a decades-long relationship between the chef and dry pasta.

Spaghettoni with red cabbage, cocoa bean grue and salmon roe 

Spaghettoni with red cabbage, cocoa bean grue and salmon roe 

Spaghettini provola, lemon and capers

Spaghettini provola, lemon and capers

First, Spaghettoni with cocoa beans grue, purple cabbage and salmon roe. «We usually use cabbage just as a decoration, thanks to its purple colour. But it has much more dignity when cooked». Cracco makes a juice of it, reduced by 50%, from 1 litre to half. And he uses the sauce to finish the spaghettoni risotto-style, after cooking them for 9 minutes instead of the suggested 12. Not just any spaghettoni, but Spaghettone Monograno Felicetti Valentino, named after the founder of the pasta factory, the great-grandfather of Riccardo, who was also there. «It’s a family of visionaries», the chef points out, «because they had the courage to create a pasta-factory up in the mountains».

The spaghettoni are not “mantecati”, they are just finished with a little extra virgin olive oil. They then add some cocoa beans grue- «Not just cocoa powder because it would change the flaovour; it’s best to use the beans» - some salmon roe and the bird’s nest is formed on the plate. A fantastic tasting, as those who ate this dish at the debut of Identità Golose Milano’s Hub know well: the spaghettoni are meaty, strongly textured.

Riccardo Felicetti, Carlo Cracco and Luca Pedata

Riccardo Felicetti, Carlo Cracco and Luca Pedata

Vince Gerasole, journalist from Chicago, the moderator of all the lessons at New York

Vince Gerasole, journalist from Chicago, the moderator of all the lessons at New York

From spaghettone to spaghettino, crunchier and more elegant, «a long-ignored format which is enjoying a significant nouvelle vague», points out Riccardo Felicetti. In a small bowl they serve a well accomplished take on a classic from Ischia: Spaghettini with provola, lemon and fried caper flowers. Once again people moan with pleasure. «Curiosity is the sparkle in our profession», ended Cracco, «We like using inspiration from afar. After all, you have to be open minded to live in Italy».

Two final notes on the successful pairings with the first dish, the purple Spaghettone. The beer chosen by Leonardo Di Vincenzo, CEO and founder at Birra del Borgo is Lisa, «An Italian take on German lager, using Senatore Cappelli, the same wheat used by Cracco for his pasta». Stefano Medici of Cantine Ferrari instead chose Ferrari Perlé Nero 2009 Trentodoc, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. A perfect match with cabbage, even visually.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

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Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes. 
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