WCL: Frank Pellegrino, Jr. on his latest cookbook

Frank Pellegrino, Jr. is the co-owner of the legendary Italian hotspot Rao's?with locations in East Harlem, NY and Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV.

Frank is here to chat about and whip up some recipes from his latest cookbook "Rao's on the Grill," where anyone can recreate Rao's classic dishes on the backyard grill.


12 ripe plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced (about 8 cups)
1 (7-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 large fresh basil leaves, torn into dime-size pieces
2 teaspoons diced red onion
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound short pasta, such as fusilli (spirals) or farfalle (bowties)
6 whole fresh basil leaves for garnish

1. Mix together the tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella, parsley, torn basil, red onion, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic in a large bowl. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. (The tomato mixture can be made and refrigerated up to 12 hours ahead.)

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 2 cups of the tomato mixture to a bowl to use as a topping and set aside. Add the pasta to the larger amount of the tomato mixture and mix well. Top with the reserved tomato mixture and the whole basil leaves. Serve immediately.

2 (1-pound) rib-eye steaks on the bone, cut 1-inch thick
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pizzaiola Sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut lengthwise into ½ -inch strips
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can imported Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained and crushed by hand (about 1 cup)
Pinch of dried oregano
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat an outdoor grill for direct cooking over high heat (550°F).

2. Season the steaks with the salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature while preheating the grill.

3. To make the sauce: Place a large flameproof skillet on the cooking grate. Add the oil and let it heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, adding a bit more wine if the sauce gets too thick. Remove from the heat. (The sauce can be made up to 2 hours ahead.)

4. Brush the cooking grate clean and lightly oil the grate. Grill the steaks, with the lid closed as much as possible, for 1 ½ minutes. Rotate the steaks 90 degrees and grill for 2 minutes, just until seared with grill marks. Flip the steaks and repeat, searing for 2 minutes. Remove the steaks from the grill. They will be very rare, but will finish cooking in the sauce.