In this week's Chef and Tell interview with Pizza Republica's Eric Chiappetta, the kitchen wizard offered insight about what it was like to work with Sean Kelly, his chance meeting with Julia Child and why he believes the cook at Griff's Hamburgers is a culinary god. He also talked about his restaurant, which is justifiably championed for its pizza, although Chiappetta made it clear that it's not just about pizza: "Once you get in here, you realize that we're a lot more than that -- that we have a sick Italian wine list, specials every night, and authentic Italian food," he told me.
One of his most popular dishes is the mussels arrabiata. "Everyone swoons ever it," says Chiappetta, who was willing to share the recipe with us. "Make sure you let the garlic and shallots have a couple of minutes to do their thing," he advises, and "don't use an old, flat wine that's been sitting around." At the restaurant, Chiappetta uses a pinot grigio -- and recommends that you do, too.
Pizza Republica Mussels Arrabiata Serves 8
• 8 pounds P.E.I. mussels, cleaned and debearded • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 4 tablespoons garlic, chopped • 4 tablespoons shallots, chopped • 4 tablespoons red chile flakes • 2 cups white wine • 2 cups pomodoro or marinara sauce • Salt and pepper to taste • 1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped • Grilled ciabatta or any rustic Italian bread
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1. Heat olive oil in a large pan. 2. Add chopped garlic and shallots and sauté until slightly browned. 3. Add the mussels and toss. 4. Add the chile flakes and white wine and simmer until the mussels have opened, about two to four minutes (discard any mussels that don't open). 5. Add the pomodoro sauce and season with salt and pepper. 6. Simmer for about 3 minutes and pour musses and sauce into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. 7. Serve with grilled bread.