The Dish: Carla Pallotta

CBS News

Chef Carla Pallotta was born and raised in Boston’s North End, the city’s Little Italy. There she grew up enjoying her mother and grandmother’s simple recipes from the old country’s Puglia region. 

Those same dishes would find their way onto the menu at Nebo Cucina & Enoteca, the restaurant she opened with her sister and business partner, Christine, back in 2005. Located just a few blocks from where the two grew up, it’s meant to capture the simple pleasures of dining in an Italian home. 

Here are some of Pallotta’s signature dishes:




1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 lb Arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
4 ounces dried Porcini mushrooms (soaked in 1 cup water)
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups boiling chicken broth
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese 


1. You must stir the whole time or the rice will burn! Saute onion in oil, add rice and stir until translucent. Add wine and cook until burnt off.

2. Drain porcini mushrooms, saving liquid. Chop porcini mushrooms and put aside. Strain porcini liquid into rice and stir until absorbed. 

3. Add enough chicken broth to cover the rice and continue to stir. Add porcini mushrooms and salt.

4. When all liquid is absorbed, cover rice again with chicken broth. Continue until all broth is used or until rice is cooked al dente (approximately 18 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  

5. Spread risotto on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. 



8 eggs
3 cups non-flavored bread crumbs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons pecorino romano cheese, grated
1/2 tablespoon pepper
Small cubes of mozzarella cheese (approximately 1/8 inch)
Honey to drizzle


  1. Remove risotto from refrigerator. With medium-sized ice cream scoop, measure 1.3 oz of rice. Flatten in palm of your hand. Put a piece of mozzarella cheese on top of rice, then form a ball around it. Repeat until all rice is used.
  2. Beat egg with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.
  3. Roll each ball in flour, then egg mixture, then bread crumbs.
  4. Fry at 350 to 375 degrees in fryolator for 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
  5. To serve, drizzle warm arancini with honey.

Two Nebo mushroom polenta 


1 pound shitake mushrooms
1 pound crimini mushrooms
1 pound oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of shaved polenta
Small container of mascarpone cheese
4 ounces of heavy cream


1. Place 4 cups of cooked polenta, heavy cream, 6 tablespoons mascarpone and 4 oz water in a saucepan. Stir until heated (like mashed potatoes).

2. Heat mushrooms if necessary in one teaspoon oil until crispy.

3. In four small bowls, pour polenta. Scoop crispy mushrooms on top of polenta.

4. Place shaved parmesan on top of mushrooms. Salt to taste.

Goat cheese budino 

Yields 6 budinos (lasts five days)


2 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup butter milk
1 cup goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Honey to drizzle
8 ounces hazelnuts, chopped course
20 medjool dates


  1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl.

  2. Let it stand for five minutes, until dissolved.

  3. Warm cream, gelatin, salt and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin mixture and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. Whisk in the goat cheese and buttermilk. Pour into six small containers and refrigerate for three hours.

Directions for individual serving

  1. Turn budino upside down on the center of a plate. Break apart two to three medjool dates and sprinkle over budino.

  2. Sprinkle one tablespoon coarsely crushed hazelnuts and 1/2 teaspoon of honey. 

  3. Cut one piece of bruschetta into six pieces and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place them next to budino. 

Nebo chioppino

Serves 4


2 2-lb lobsters, boiled
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces chicken stock
2 ounces white wine
12 ounces marinara sauce
8 shrimps
8 ounces calamari
4 lobster claws, removed from shell
Lobster knuckle meat
2 lobster tails
16 mussels
4 smelts
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 chopped tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cornmeal
Canola oil to fry
4 slices of rustic bread toasted, drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic


  1. In a large stock pot, boil two lobsters until red, but do not overcook. Cool lobster and remove claws, knuckles and tails. Cut tails long way in half. Remove claws from shells and knuckle meat. Put aside. 

  2. In a large saute pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft. Add mussels and butter, and cook until butter melts.

  3. Add white wine and cover pot until mussels open (about one minute). Pour in chicken stock, marinara sauce, basil, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes, then put in calamari.

  4. Lower eat and cook for two minutes. Add lobster and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink.

  5. In a medium stockpot, pour canola to heat. Dust smelts in corn oil and fry until golden.

  6. Place cioppini in a large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. Top with fried smelt. Place bruschetta slices around edge of bowl to tip.

Ricotta pie 

Filling ingredients 

2 lbs ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites


  1. Mix filling and put aside.

Pie crust ingredients 

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons crisco
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 egg yolks (1 extra yolk for brushing the pie)
2 teaspoons vanilla


1. Mix all ingredients together. Make two pie crust rounds. Use crisco and flour to coat pie dish.

2. Put one pie around in the bottom of pie plate. Pour filling in and cover with other pie round.

3. Make the crust. Brush one egg yolk over crust before baking. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour in glass pie plate. 

Cherry blossom 


1.5 oz bourbon
1 oz cherry syrup
3 dashes of cherry bitters
Coca cola


  1. Mix and top with Coca Cola. 
  2. Garnish can be a lime twist and 3 luxardo cherries.