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The Dish: Chef Nicholas Stefanelli inspired by Italian, Greek roots

The Dish: Chef Nicholas Stefanelli
The Dish: Chef Nicholas Stefanelli 04:31

Nicholas Stefanelli became a chef after rediscovering his roots in Italy. He grew up in Maryland with both Greek and Italian grandparents who loved to cook. He originally considered a career in the fashion industry, but after a fateful trip to Italy, where he sampled some of the country's best cuisine, he decided to enter the food industry.

His first hit restaurant was Washington D.C.'s Masseria, winner of the coveted Michelin star. Then came Officina, a cafe and marketplace that now boasts three locations. And next year he plans to open the Greek-themed Philotimo.

Here are some of Stefanelli's recipes:

Linguine aglio, olio e peperoncino (serves 4)

Scott Suchman


  • 1 pound Faella linguine or another high quality brand from Gragnano, Italy
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled, germ removed and sliced paper thin on a mandolin
  • 1 tablespoon dry red chili flakes (you can add more or less if you like it spicy or not)
  • 1 small bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon + ¼ cup fine Italian sea salt
  • 1 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the ¼ cup of salt. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta in and stir to prevent from sticking. Then in a large sauté pan, add the olive oil, garlic, salt and chili. Place the pan over a medium heat and slowly cook the garlic. Be careful not to color the garlic. If you need, remove the pan from the heat and add a little of the pasta water to stop the cooking. Once the pasta is cooked al dente, about 9 to 10 minutes in the water, strain and add to the sauté pan with a little of the pasta water to make the sauce. Let the pasta cook with the oil and the water for 1 to 2 minutes.


This pasta is the base for the linguini dish that has been on the menu at Masseria since it opened. Other great additions are clams and white wine; tomato and parmigiano; or anchovy and white truffles.

Chestnut soup


  • 1 pound peeled chestnuts
  • 1 celery root diced
  • 5 shallots peeled and sliced
  • 10 button mushrooms sliced
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • ½ cup Madeira
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ pound butter
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place a medium stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and wait 45 seconds to bring to temperature. Then add the celery root, shallots, mushrooms and bay leaves. Cook the vegetables until light golden brown. Then deglaze the pot with the Madeira, reduce by half and then add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Then place sauté pan on medium-high heat and add half the butter. Once the butter begins to foam add half the chestnuts. Toast the chestnuts until golden brown. Deglaze with half the brandy and add to the pot. Repeat the process to toast the other half of the chestnuts.

Cook the chestnuts in the stock for 45 minutes on a gentle simmer. Blend in a blender until smooth and place back into the pot and keep warm. If the soup is too thick add more stock to adjust consistency. Serve hot with toasted bread. 

Pinzimonio: Italian vegetable crudité

This is a classic crudité in Italy with raw vegetables served with a lemon, olive oil and herb dipping sauce. Masseria uses this as a base to present a beautiful vegetable salad, and Officina presents it in a classic version to share at the table. The ingredient list is something that is always evolving seasonally, so feel free to add any veggie you love to eat.


  • Cucumber cut into 1 inch sticks
  • Fennel cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Carrots cut into 1 inch sticks
  • Celery cut into 1 inch sticks
  • Breakfast radishes cut into quarters
  • Kohlrabi sliced into small discs
  • Turnip sliced into small discs
  • Butternut squash cut into 1 inch sticks
  • Beets sliced into small disk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of dry oregano, fresh cut chives, parsley and basil

Arrange all of the vegetables onto a platter for presentation. In a mixing bowl add the lemon juice and slowly whisk in the olive oil to create an emulsion. Add the herbs and season with salt to taste. Place the dressing in a small dipping bowl and place onto the platter with the vegetables.

Cauliflower alla Trapanese


  • 1 head of cauliflower, florets broken into pieces the size of quarters
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 1 small bunch of parsley chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 bay leaf

In a large sauté pan add the butter, oil, anchovy, bay leaf and garlic. Heat over a medium heat and when the butter begins to foam, add the cauliflower. Gently cook and stir over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes stirring as not to burn the cauliflower or the garlic. Once the cauliflower begins to take a light color, add the pine nuts, raisins and parsley. Cook for an additional minute.

Scottish pheasant with parsley root, salsa verde and mostarda (serves 4)


  • 1 wild Scottish pheasant
  • 12 pieces of parsley root
  • 1 small jar Italian candied fruits with mustard
  • ½ pound butter
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries crushed
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup of brandy

For the salsa verde:

  • 1 quart picked parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon caper berries
  • 4 anchovy filets
  • ½ clove of raw garlic
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Move the legs from the body of the pheasant and lightly season. Remove the breast from the bone and reserve in the fridge. Chop the bones.

Take a medium stock pot and place over medium-high heat. Add half the butter and toast the bones. Once the bones are golden brown remove from the pot and add the celery, carrots, shallots and juniper berries. Cook the vegetables until lightly golden brown and deglaze with the brandy. Cook the brandy down by half, add the bones back and cover in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for two hours.

While the stock is cooking, prepare the salsa verde. In a blender, add the anchovy, garlic, capers, vinegar and white wine. Purée the mixture to a smooth paste, then add the parsley and continue to puree slowly drizzling the oil into the blender to create an emulsion. Once incorporated remove from the blender into a small bowl.

Once the stock is cooked, strain and pour over the legs in a separate pot and cook slowly in a 300 degree oven for two hours or until the legs are tender. Once the legs are tender, remove from the pot and keep warm. Reduce the liquid until it is at sauce consistency and can coat the back of a spoon.

Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add the remaining butter. Once it begins to foam, add the pheasant breast skin down. Cook the breast for 5 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Then flip the breast to the opposite side and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Place the breast with the legs to rest. Add the parsley root to the pan with a ¼ cup of water and salt and bring to a simmer. Once the water has evaporated, cook the parsley root until golden brown. 

To bring the dish together, slice the breast and split the legs by half. Plate with the parsley root and bring to the table with the salsa verde, mostarda and the sauce.  

Risotto alla Parmigiana


  • 4 cups carnarolli rice
  • 12 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ a small onion finely diced
  • ¼ pound butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups dry white wine

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium size stock pot. Then heat another medium stock pot over medium heat. Add a quarter of the butter and all of the olive oil. Once the butter begins to lightly foam with no color, add the onions. Stir the onions and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add the rice and stir. This technique is called toasting.

Continue to stir the rice until it is warm to the touch with no color, usually about 3 minutes. Then add the white wine while stirring the rice. Once the wine is evaporated, add some of the chicken stock so that the rice is covered while continuing to stir. You must be careful to keep stirring; the starch in the pot will cause the rice to sick and burn. At this stage, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to the rice so the rice will absorb the salt. Once the stock is half incorporated, add additional stock to cover and repeat the cooking process. This will need to happen 4 to 5 times or until the rice is al dente and the stock is absorbed. It is important that there is very little liquid in the pot with the rice. The rice should have a creamy consistency.

Then add the remaining butter, cheese and the vinegar. Stir to incorporate all of the ingredients. The consistency of the rice should gently move back and forth in the pot when you shake it. At this point, if the rice is too dry, add more liquid to adjust the consistency. Taste for seasoning and serve. 


Scott Suchman


  • 1 ounce London dry gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Sweet vermouth
  • orange slice
  • Ice

Combine all the alcohol. Stir with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass and garnish with an orange slice. 

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