WCL: Chicago Gourmet 2011: Spiaggia's Chef Tony Mantuano

A premiere culinary event takes place this weekend in Millennium Park. More than 100 of the city's finest chefs will have their skills in food and wine on display in the fourth annual Chicago Gourmet.

Today we have Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuano in our kitchen to make delicious and simple Italian fare.


Regarded internationally as an influential culinary force, Chef Tony Mantuano is the chef/partner at Spiaggia, the only four-star Italian restaurant in Chicago. Awarded the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for "Best Chef: Midwest," Mantuano worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, including the three-star Dal Pescatore, before opening Spiaggia in 1984 to critical acclaim, and has since gone on to win The Chicago Tribune's highest culinary prize, "The Good Eating Award" and named a Food & Wine "Best New Chef" in 1986. His other ventures include Mangia Trattoria in his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin and as the chef/partner of Terzo Piano at new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, which was nominated for Wallpaper magazines design awards 2010 as a best new restaurant.

Mantuano's first cookbook, The Spiaggia Cookbook, was lauded by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2004. In 2008, Mantuano co-authored Wine Bar Food with wife Cathy Mantuano, which was the inspiration for WINE BAR FOOD outposts at the 2008, 2009 and 2010 U.S. Open Tennis Champions.

Mantuano was seen on TVs across the U.S. as a cheftestant on season two of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters," making it to the Champions round. He has made numerous television appearances including "NIGHTLINE," "The TODAY Show," "The Early Show," and "MARTHA" and has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator and Bon Appétit, among others. He is a frequent contributor to local Chicago media, television and radio stations.

In addition to his 2005 honor, Mantuano's Spiaggia also received James Beard Foundation nominations for Outstanding Restaurant in America in 2006, 2007 and 2010 and for Outstanding Service in 2008 and 2009. In November 2010, Spiaggia was awarded one Michelin star in the inaugural "Michelin Chicago" guidebook.

The Mantuanos were honored with the keys to San Martino in the Italian region of Molise (the ancestral home of Cathy Mantuano) for serving authentic Italian cuisine to President Barack Obama, a long-time guest who celebrated his presidential election victory at Spiaggia in 2008.

Under Chef Mantuano's leadership Spiaggia continues to mark the culinary map. Mantuano has become known for utilizing rare, authentic Italian products of the highest quality. In recent years, Mantuano recently unveiled a temperature and humidity controlled cheese cave at Spiaggia featuring Italy's best, from seven year-old Parmigiano Reggiano to a line of fresh and aged Italian botanical cheeses that are wrapped in a wide array of leaves and flora. Spiaggia bottles its own Tuscan olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, conducts yearly cooking classes and leads culinary tours of their favorite Mediterranean destinations.

In fall 2011, Mantuano will open his fifth Chicago restaurant, Bar Toma, a neighborhood Italian bar and pizzeria, at 110 East Pearson Street.

Bon Appétit Presents Chicago Gourmet
Saturday, September 24 from 12-6pm and Sunday, September 25 from 12-5pm
Millennium Park
$150 per person
Saturday tickets are sold out, but Sunday's tickets are still available! Snag them while you can at www.chicagogourmet.org

Also, the Hamburger Hop --the official kick-off to Chicago Gourmet -- takes place on Friday, September 23, and includes a burger showdown between 17 top chefs.

Hamburger Hop, presented by Allen Brothers and MillerCoors' Blue Moon
Friday, September 23 from 6-9pm
Harris Theater Rooftop
205 E. Randolph
$89 per person
Tickets are going fast, but are still available at www.chicagogourmet.org

Tagliatelle con Salsa di Pomodori Freschi
Handmade Pasta Ribbons with Fresh Tomato Sauce

For the pasta:
2 cups flour
Generous pinch of salt
8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/3 cup water

For the sauce:
8 fresh heirloom tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 fresh basil leaves
Pecorino Romano cheese for serving

Serves 4 to 6

Make the pasta. Mound the flour on a pastry board or other wood or marble work surface. Make a well in the center and add the salt and the egg yolks. Using a fork, gradually fold the flour into the eggs, adding the water little by little until you have a soft dough. Knead a few times until smooth, then form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Now make the sauce. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water and set aside. Core the tomatoes and mark an "x" on the opposite end. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 12 to 15 seconds. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the tomatoes and place directly into the ice water. After one minute, remove the skins from the tomatoes (they should come off easily). Place the skinned tomatoes on paper towel to dry. On a cutting board, split the tomatoes in-half crosswise, and squeeze out and discard the seeds. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside until ready to use.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to dissolve. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month. Reheat before serving.

When ready to make the pasta, divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Using one portion at a time, (cover the other pieces of dough with a cloth or plastic wrap to keep them from drying out), roll out the pasta dough into thin sheets. The pasta is thin enough when you can see your hand through the dough. The pasta is now ready to be cut. Attach the cutter and cut the sheets one at a time. Dust the tagliatelle with flour so it doesn't stick together and place on a lightly floured surface to dry for 5 minutes before cooking.

When ready to cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but firm to the bite, 2 minutes.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir gently to combine. Cook over low heat for about 2 minutes to allow the pasta to marry with the sauce.

To serve, divide among warm plates. Sprinkle with grated pecorino romano cheese and serve immediately.


-In honor of Columbus Day, on Saturday, October 8, Spiaggia Chef Tony Mantuano and Executive Chef Sarah will host a daytime cooking class at 11:30 a.m. demonstrating traditional seafood recipes from Columbus's homeland Genoa, Italy. Cost is $125 per person and guests may reserve by calling 312.280.2750. www.spiaggiarestaurant.com

-On Thursday, October 13, Terzo Piano will host the second annual Farm-to-Fork Fest dinner with Chef Mantuano, Chef did Cucina Meg Colleran Sahs and their favorite local farmers. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed up a seated four-course dinner with wine pairings. Cost is $75 per person, not including tax and gratuity, and guests may reserve by calling 312.443.8650. www.terzopianochicago.com

-Chef Mantuano's latest Chicago venture is Bar Toma, a neighborhood Italian bar and pizzeria. Bar Toma will open this Fall at 110 East Pearson (the former Bistro 110 Space) offering a variety of pizzas, a mozzarella bar, house-made gelato (made daily on-site and available to-go), an espresso bar, Italian Beers, around 60 wines, some of which will be on tap, and more. The pizza will be something never seen before in Chicago; it will be crispy, airy, and light with a crust that everyone wants to eat. (Bar Toma, 110 East Pearson Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611, 312.266.3110, www.bartomachicago.com