Chef David Beston demonstrates his culinary prowess as he delves into his favorite traditional recipes from Italy.
A third-generation chef with Italian roots, it comes as little surprise, then, that New Yorker David Beston is passionate about traditional Italian cooking. A celebrated chef well-known across much of the northeastern U.S. dining scene, the multi-award-winning restaurateur presents a selection of his best-loved classic Italian dishes.
“Born and raised in the New York area, for more than two decades, I’ve worked in some of the top restaurant and hotel kitchens in New Jersey, New York City, and elsewhere across America,” explains David Beston, speaking from his home in Manhattan, around 10 miles from where he grew up in nearby Brooklyn.
Much has changed during the past 20 years, according to Beston, but there has, he says, been one constant throughout. “While much has changed on the restaurant and hotel dining scene in recent years, one thing has remained the same,” reveals David, “and that’s my love of traditional Italian cuisine.”
Chef David Beston is, accordingly, keen to share four of his favorites, starting with a classic Italian vegetable stew. “Hearty and traditional, this is real Italian comfort food,” suggests the expert.
Beston’s preferred recipe combines collard greens, kale, carrots, celery, and leek with garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, and oregano. “Cooked together in a simple vegetable broth, peeled tomatoes and cannellini beans are then added for extra depth,” explains the chef. Topped with pieces of torn sourdough bread, freshly ground black pepper, and shaved parmesan, it’s a recipe, he says, that’s a firm favorite with almost any Italian family.
Second among David Beston’s favorite traditional Italian recipes is a classic pizza margherita. Using a standard stretched pizza dough—in this instance, one that’s apparently a Beston family secret—David then tops his favorite pie with just three tablespoons of tomato sauce, three ounces of fresh mozzarella, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a handful of roughly torn basil leaves. “It’s simple,” says Beston, “but it’s heaven.”
According to the expert, even his preferred choice of tomato sauce is as simple as can be. “Blitzed together, canned tomatoes, a splash of olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt are all that’s needed,” he explains, “but feel free to experiment!”
The third of David Beston‘s highlighted traditional Italian dishes, meanwhile, is lasagna bolognese. Combining a classic bolognese sauce of beef, pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, dry white wine, crushed tomatoes, and chicken broth with fresh pasta and a homemade bechamel sauce, it’s not just a firm Beston family favorite, David reports, but a favorite of diners in Italian restaurants across the board, too.
Fourth and finally, David Beston turns to cacio e pepe. “This is, perhaps, my favorite traditional Italian dish,” he reveals. “Translated into English, ‘cacio e pepe’ simply means ‘cheese and pepper,'” the chef goes on, “with the addition of butter and a choice of fresh pasta, such as spaghetti, bucatini, or tagliolini.”
This simple but delicious masterpiece of Italian cuisine, however, David Beston insists, ultimately relies, first and foremost, on a small handful of specific ingredients. “Good quality unsalted butter, freshly cracked black pepper, and, most important of all,” he adds in closing, “the addition of finely grated grana padano and pecorino cheeses make this a dish that I’ll never, ever grow tired of.”