Da Silvano Cookbook: Simple Secrets from New York's Favorite Italian Restaurant

Da Silvano Cookbook: Simple Secrets from New York's Favorite Italian Restaurant

by Silvano Marchetto

From legendary restaurateur Silvano Marchetto-owner and chef of the twenty-six-year-old institution that was one of the first restaurants to bring true Italian cooking to New York.

While a lot of high-powered restaurants serve impressive, complicated food that results in beautiful, but not very practical, cookbooks, Da Silvano's food is known for its elegant

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From legendary restaurateur Silvano Marchetto-owner and chef of the twenty-six-year-old institution that was one of the first restaurants to bring true Italian cooking to New York.

While a lot of high-powered restaurants serve impressive, complicated food that results in beautiful, but not very practical, cookbooks, Da Silvano's food is known for its elegant simplicity. Infused with owner and chef Silvano Marchetto's engaging personality, Da Silvano Cookbook sparkles with the pleasure that comes from making and eating fresh and delicious food. From the wonderfully simple Garlic Soup to the rich and always satisfying Osso Buco alla Milanese, the 120 recipes make this an indispensable guide to the best Italian cuisine.

Silvano has been feeding and charming celebrities and locals alike at his Manhattan restaurant for twenty-five years, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Yoko Ono, Jack Nicholson to Patti Smith. Whether it's a memory of sage leaves from his childhood in Florence or a mention of Warren Beatty's fondness for truffles, Silvano slips an anecdote into every recipe, the garnish on clear, easy-to-follow directions that combine to make this cookbook as useable as it is delightful.

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Publishers Weekly
Serving customers since 1975, Da Silvano has thrived in a notoriously fickle environment far longer than many illustrious competitors, and Marchetto says he has not written a cookbook until now because he has been too busy. Reflecting the Tuscan cuisine he grew up with in Florence, the chef celebrates Italian tradition and its rewarding simplicity. Here are recipes for Spaghetti Puttanesca, Pasta e Fagioli and the classic Osso Buco alla Milanese. Marchetto also has a deft hand at creating dishes a bit out of the ordinary, including Monkfish and Melon Carpaccio and Veal Scaloppine, Silvano Style, which is cooked with sliced button mushrooms and heavy cream. Other popular recipes from this West Village establishment include Garlic Soup, with peeled cloves from eight heads of the fragrant bulb tamed by simmering two hours in two quarts of chicken broth, Cr?me Caramel lightened with lemon zest and Da Silvano's signature dessert, Panna Cotta, which acquires its firmness from being cooked in the oven, not on the stovetop. Another notable recipe from the menu is Chicken Cooked in Beer, which promises utterly succulent results. Marchetto's food is hearty and decidedly unpretentious, which makes this a welcome entry in a world of chef cookbooks, where many offerings can be a daunting stretch for home cooks. Tosches, a Da Silvano regular, delivers an ever-perfect introduction to this cookbook. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Product dimensions:
9.14(w) x 10.34(h) x 1.01(d)

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Chapter One

Nick Tosches

Where do I begin? These are words by which no writer should ever expose himself in print, even though they be deeply and forever embedded in the cerebral crenulations by which his trade may be detected, identified, defined. Yet, here, this question is the beginning, the only beginning; and neither the deft, cheap glibness of a journeyman-hack, such as myself, or the magisterial Quintilian eloquence of a master of poetry and of prose, such as myself, can vanquish it, evade it, or veil it. For the plain truth is that there is no known beginning, not as far as Silvano and I can recall. We have known one another a good and long time, but neither of us can remember when and how we met.

When it comes to appetizers, my philosophy is "the simpler, the better." I don't just favor simple recipes; I think appetizers should be a simple experience—clean, fresh ingredients and not too many flavors on one plate.

    My customers seem to agree. This chapter features our most popular appetizers. Many of them are small, hors d'oeuvre-type offerings like Crostini Toscani, Italian chopped chicken livers spread over toasted ciabatta; or a Bruschetta of diced tomatoes and basil. Others feature just one perfect thing, like Sarde alla Griglia, or grilled sardines; Cozze alla Marinara, or mussels cooked in white wine sauce; and Puntarelle, an Italian chicory that's crunchy, clean, and delicious.

    I also like bold contrasts, and in afew dishes I have paired two primary and very complementary ingredients. Most of these are classic combinations, like Rapini con Salsiccia, which is broccoli di rapa with spicy sausage, and Fave con Pecorino, a salad of fava beans and Pecorino Toscano cheese. But a few are of my own design, most notably the Carpacdo di Coda Rospo e Melone Cantalope, a monkfish and melon dish that was inspired by a trip to St. Tropez.

    I've also included a number of salads including Panzanella, a bread salad; Panzanella di Farro, a variation on the bread salad made with spelt; Barbabietole e Indivia, a salad of beets and endive; and Viareggina, which features hearts of palm and avocado—a wonderful combination.

    There are many more recipes in the pages to follow, but I'll tell you about them as we get to them. I think that a book, like a meal, should leave something to the imagination, and I'd like to surprise you a little along the way.


The simplicity and flavors of bruschetta perfectly reflect the spirit of late summer, which is the best time to make and enjoy it because it depends on the best, freshest tomatoes for its success.

    Notice how much flavor you get out of garlic just by rubbing it on the toasted bread—there's none of it in the finished dish, but you taste its essence in every bite.

6 plum tomatoes, cut into
1/2-inch/1-cm cubes
10 fresh basil leaves
5 tablespoons extra virgin
olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Small loaf crusty Tuscan bread,
cut into 8 slices (1/2 inch/1 cm
1 clove garlic, peeled

Place the tomatoes in a ceramic or stainless steel mixing bowl. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and add them. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and basil and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix the tomatoes, basil, and oil with a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

Toast the bread slices. Place the garlic on the tines of a fork and brush it once on the upward-facing side of the toast slices in a Z pattern.

Spoon some tomato-basil mixture on each slice, arrange the slices on a platter, and serve immediately.

WINE SUGGESTION: Arneis "Blangé"—Ceretto

No Tomatoes?

For a variation on this dish, make a fettunta (oily slice) by brushing the garlic on each slice of bread in a Z pattern, toasting the slices, and drizzling them with olive oil.


Crostini are lightly toasted slices of bread topped with vegetables, meat, or a combination of the two. At Da Silvano, we serve crostini with chicken livers that have been sautéed with onions, wine, capers, and anchovies, then cut up just until they are spreadable.

    It's best to use day-old ciabatta, a small, thin-crusted bread—the juice will soak in and soften it to create the perfect texture.

2 tablespoons olive off
1/2 medium red onion, roughly
1 pound/450g chicken livers,
membranes removed
1 teaspoon small capers, drained
but not rinsed (see Note)
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup/120 ml dry white wine
1 loaf ciabatta, cut into 8 to 10
slices (1/2 inch/1 cm each), lightly
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf

Warm the olive oil in a sauté pan wide enough to hold the livers in a single layer over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly colored, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken livers and brown them on all sides, cooking until medium-rare, about 5 minutes. Add the capers and anchovies. Cook, stirring to prevent scorching, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced but not dry, 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour the contents of the skillet into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Reserve the juice to add some of it to the livers if they are too dry.

Turn the onions, livers, capers, and anchovies out onto a clean, dry cutting board and chop roughly until they are well incorporated and the mixture is spreadable. If it appears too dry, spoon some reserved cooking liquid over it and chop again. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl.

Spread some chopped liver on each slice of toast. Sprinkle some chopped parsley over each one. Serve at room temperature.

NOTE: Don't use salt-packed capers; they're much too salty, especially since I don't believe in rinsing capers before using them. Purchase those stored in brine.

WINE SUGGESTION: Chianti Classico "Scassino"—Terrabianca


White Spanish beans—also referred to as butter beans—are wonderful receivers of flavor. Cooked with radicchio and tossed with browned pancetta, they really come alive. The key to this recipe is the red wine vinegar—you add only a splash, but it gives the entire dish an acidic bite and cuts the fattiness of the pancetta.

1 pound/450g (about 1 cup)
dried white Spanish beans
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small head of radicchio (about
8 oz/225g), tough core removed
and separated into leaves
1 small red onion, quartered
(see Note)
2 ounces/55g rucola (about
1 1/4 cups loosely packed),
coarsely chopped (see Note)
8 ounces/225g thinly sliced
pancetta, cut into thin strips
(see Note)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Soak the beans overnight in enough cold water to cover. Drain.

Place the beans in a pot and cover them by 2 inches/5 cm with cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion and radicchio and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer until the beans are tender and cooked through, about 1 hour.

About 10 minutes before the beans are done, place the pancetta in a sauté pan and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the pancetta is nicely browned and some fat has rendered, 4 to 5 minutes.

When the beans are done, drain them in a colander. Remove and discard the onion and transfer the beans to the pan with the pancetta. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over low heat, tossing to combine the flavors.

Transfer the pancetta-bean mixture to a large platter, drizzle with a splash of red wine vinegar, and top with the rucola. Serve at once.

NOTES: When quartering onions that will need to be removed from a recipe, as here, be sure to leave the root end of each onion intact so that the layers don't separate.

Rucola is a peppery green that is often called "arugula" in the United States. But, as with broccoli rabe, which I call by the Italian broccoli di rapa, I prefer to use the Italian name, rucola.

Pancetta is, basically, cured bacon, which comes from the belly of the pig. It is an Italian staple and is available from many specialty and gourmet shops.

WINE SUGGESTION: Mondaccione-Coppo


In Tuscany, fava beans and Pecorino Toscano cheese are a classic springtime combination because that's when the beans come into season. There, we don't serve them in a salad—instead we sit, preferably outside, each person peeling his own beans and cutting pieces of cheese from a large wedge.

    At Da Silvano, I serve Fave con Pecorino whenever I can get my hands on fresh beans, not just the spring. (In January for example, I get them from California.) Peeling fava beans takes a lot of time, but is well worth it.

2 pounds/900g fava beans,
peeled (see Note)
4 ounces/110g Pecorino
Toscano, sliced into 1/2-inch/
1-cm-long, matchstick-thick
1/4 cup/55ml olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 leaves radicchio, sliced very

Place the fava beans and pecorino in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper. Toss very gently just to combine the flavors and being careful not to break the beans or crush the cheese.

Mound a quarter of the beans and cheese in the center of each of 4 salad plates. Top each serving with a few slivers of radicchio.

NOTE: Peeling fava beans requires two steps: First, carefully remove the tough outer pod. (If you like, you can run a paring knife along the seam, but be careful not to push in too far or you'll cut the bean.) Then, carefully remove the skin that envelops each individual bean. One pound/450g of fava beans in the pod yields about 1/2 cup/110g of beans.

WINE SUGGESTION: Chianti Classico-Rocca delle Macie

For a variation on this recipe, do as my friends at Da I'Frasca of Montevarchi do: For each serving, top 1/4 cup/55g fava beans with 2 tablespoons cooked and cooled cannellini beans, drizzle with the olive oil, then top with Pecorino Toscano and a few shavings of white or black truffle.


They say that carpaccio (and the bellini, too) was invented by Mr. Cipriani at Harry's Bar in Venice. In New York today, there are all kinds of carpaccio, made with fish, duck, and even fruit. My way is easier than all the others, and even simpler than Mr. Cipriani's, who puts mayonnaise on his.

    Because this recipe is so simple, every ingredient counts—use the best beef, the freshest lemon and rucola, and the finest Parmigiano-Reggiano. To keep the meat as cold as possible, put the plates in the refrigerator for a few minutes before preparing this dish.

2 cups/110g roughly chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound/340g eye round beef,
cleaned and sliced paper-thin by
your butcher, each slice kept
refrigerated between sheets of
wax paper (see Note)
4 ounces/110g Parmigiano-Reggiano,
shaved into shards
with a vegetable peeler

In a ceramic or stainless steel mixing bowl, toss the rucola with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, lay overlapping slices of beef on each of 4 dinner plates to cover the surface in as even a layer as possible. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Mound equal amounts of rucola on top of the beef in the center of each plate. Top the rucola with cheese shards, grind some black pepper over each plate, and serve immediately.

NOTE: To cut the beef yourself, place it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up, which will facilitate slicing. Use a slicing machine, or a very sharp chef's knife, keeping it as steady as possible to cut thin slices.

WINE SUGGESTION: Chianti Classico-Fonterutoli


When I tell new customers that the artichokes in this dish are raw, many of them can't believe it. But baby artichokes are so tender that this is the best way to enjoy all of their natural flavor. Even the choke is young enough that it can be eaten with no problem. In this recipe, the artichokes are tossed with olive oil and salt, then served under a little teepee of parmesan cheese for a beautiful presentation. You can also grate the cheese and toss it with the sliced artichokes if that seems more appealing to you.

1/2 lemon
12 baby artichokes
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 paper-thin slices
Parmigiano-Reggiano (about
3 inches by 4 inches/7.5 cm by
10 cm)
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a stainless steel or ceramic bowl large enough to hold the artichokes with cold water. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the bowl.

Clean and trim the artichokes by cutting off the stems and snapping back and removing all tough outer leaves. As each one is prepared, place the artichokes in the bowl with the lemon water to keep them from discoloring.

One by one, remove the artichokes from the lemon water. Slice each artichoke lengthwise as thin as possible, pat the slices dry with a paper towel, and collect them in a dry bowl. Season to taste with salt and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss gently.

Evenly divide the sliced artichokes and form into small mounds in the center o1'4 salad plates. Form a tent of 3 slices of cheese over each mound. Grind some pepper over each plate and serve.



Whenever I prepare this recipe, I think of the Mercato Centrale in Florence. A lot of the farmers there sell artichokes, and they all call out to the shoppers, "Mamme! Mamme!", meaning theirs are the biggest, the most beautiful, the best.

    This is my favorite way to serve artichokes. The beautiful presentation will surprise everyone and make the artichokes seem new and exciting.

1 lemon, halved
4 large artichokes
Fine sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup/55 to 110ml
Vinaigrette Modo Mio (page 186)
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf
1 lemon, cut into thin slices

Fill a ceramic or stainless steel bowl large enough to hold the artichokes with cold water. Squeeze the juice of the 2 lemon halves into the water.

Cut the stems off the artichokes so that they can stand up on their ends. Set a paring knife at a slight angle to the base of 1 artichoke and turn the artichoke against the blade to trim the base of the artichoke and remove the small leaves. Use a chef's knife to trim the top 1 inch/2.5 cm off the artichoke, then use scissors to snip the sharp tips off the remaining leaves.

Place the artichoke in the lemon water and repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Remove the artichokes from the lemon water, place them in the pot, and cook them at a gentle simmer until cooked through, about 35 minutes. Drain the artichokes and allow them to cool at room temperature.

Carefully spread the leaves out from the center of each artichoke. Gently remove the innermost cone of soft leaves. Use a small spoon (like an espresso spoon) to scrape off the choke (the heart's hairy covering).

Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette into the cavity of each artichoke, then tuck the cone of soft leaves into the cavity upside down.

Place 1 artichoke in the center of each of 4 bowls or salad plates, sprinkle parsley over each artichoke, and serve with the lemon slices alongside.


This dish reminds me of when my father used to take me to Marina di Massa in his army truck and we'd walk over the rocks along the shore, picking our own mussels, and then cook them on the beach for a delicious seaside lunch.

    In Italy, you see garlic and white wine used to cook all kinds of fish dishes, but this is one of my favorites. You also see crushed red pepper in a lot of preparations because it adds flavor and heat in no time at all. I add the wine at the very end of the cooking process, so that it comes into contact with the mussels after they have opened and are ready to accept its flavor.

    By the way, most Americans think of marinara sauce as being red, but the name actually means "from the sea." In Italy, a marinara sauce can be red or white.

    If you like, serve the mussels with toasted country bread or bread slices that have been drizzled with olive oil and warmed on the grill or in a cast-iron pan.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed and
4 pounds/1.8kg fresh mussels in
their shells, cleaned and
debearded, preferably Prince
Edward Island mussels

Warm the olive oil in a casserole or pot large enough to hold the mussels over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it browns slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mussels. Add the red pepper. Cover the pot and cook until the mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes.

(If you don't have a large enough casserole, work in batches. Keep the first batch covered and warm in the serving bowl for the few minutes it takes to cook the second batch.)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Splash of dry white wine
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
20 caper berries
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf

Pour the wine over the mussels. It will evaporate almost immediately upon contact. Scatter the tomatoes and caper berries over the mussels.

Transfer the contents of the casserole to a large, deep, wide-mouthed bowl, discarding any that have not opened. Sprinkle the parsley over the mussels. Serve immediately, with another bowl alongside for guests to dispose of their empty shells.

WINE SUGGESTION: Greco di Tufo—Mastroberardino


My mother hated octopus, so when I first began to eat it, I did so out of spite. But now I do it out of love, because the flavor of this creature of the sea is like no other.

Fine sea salt
2 octopuses (1 to 1 1/2 lb/450g to
700g each)
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes,
2 lemons, halved
2 tablespoons olive off
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
(loosely packed)

Fill a pot large enough to hold the octopuses with salted water and place over medium-high heat. Immediately add the octopuses and the potatoes and squeeze the juice of 2 lemon halves into the water. Bring the water to a boil. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or just until the potatoes are cooked through because—as some brilliant Italian discovered long ago—the potato and octopuses cook at the same rate. Check for doneness by inserting a small, thin-bladed knife into 1 potato. Be very careful not to overcook or the octopus will toughen. Remove the pot from the heat and let the octopuses and potatoes cool in the water for 30 to 40 minutes.

When cool, remove the potatoes from the water, cut them into 1/4-inch/ 0.5-cm cubes, and transfer to a large bowl. Do not peel the potatoes. Remove the octopuses from the water and cut them into 1/2-inch/1-cm pieces. Add the octopus pieces to the bowl with the potato. Add the olive oil and the remaining lemon juice to the bowl. Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the parsley leaves.

Serve at once from the bowl. Or divide among 4 salad plates.

WINE SUGGESTION: Chardonnay, "Castello della Sala"-Antinori


This salad was created in Viareggio, a resort town in northern Tuscany. It's very simple, but the contrast of the crunchy hearts of palm and the smooth, creamy, avocado is all you need for a memorable dish. This is a great, quick salad to enjoy outdoors in the summer.

2 fresh avocados
1 small head of Bibb lettuce or
Boston lettuce, torn into bite-size
1 head of radicchio, torn into
bite-size pieces
1 can (14 oz/400g) hearts of palm
packed in liquid, drained, and
cut into 1-inch/2.5-cm pieces
(see Note)
1 tablespoon olive off
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits using the heel of a chef's knife. Cut each avocado half into 2 or 3 long wedges, depending on the size of the avocado, then remove the skin.

Toss together the lettuce and radicchio in a small bowl. Spread them out to cover the surface of a platter or large plate.

Arrange the hearts of palm and avocado decoratively over the greens. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Use 8 ounces/225g fresh hearts of palm if you can find them.

WINE SUGGESTION: Traminer Aromatico-Jermann

Excerpted from Da Silvano cookbook by Silvano Marchetto. Copyright © 2001 by Silvano Marchetto. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved.

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