Basta pasta? Never. At this moment in our culinaryhistory, with a rustic new panini bar or elegantosteria opening nearly every week, New York hasofficially consummated its love affair with Italianfood. No matter how much there is, we never seem toget enough. “It’s the kind of food you caneat every day,” says Fiamma chef Michael White.“It makes the most of seasonal ingredients,letting them stand on their own.” That’salso what makes it a natural for summer entertaining.We invited White and seven of his equally impassionedpeers to put together an Italian-flavored feastresounding with freshness and simplicity, from MarioBatali’s savory seafood and vegetable antipastito Tom Valenti’s zesty charcoal-grilled chickenand panzanella, which truly shines, he says,“when the tomatoes are gorgeous.”Parsley-packed salsa verde transforms DavidPasternack’s succulent grilled calamari, andpotent red-wine mayo meets its mouthwatering match inRocco DiSpirito’s cured-beef bruschetta.White’s piquant pasta salad is picnic-perfect,and Scott Conant shows why his supernal spaghetti andtomato sauce has caused such a stir. “Peoplewant something they can recognize,” he says. Itmight look familiar, but it tastes spectacularlyfresh.
Text by Robin Raisfeld