15 Minutes With Sal Scognamillo of Patsy’s Italian Restaurant of New York

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Find out what the chef behind Sinatra's favorite restaurant has to say.

Patsy's Italian Restaurant of New York is famous for its traditional Italian food and celebrity clientele -- it was Frank Sinatra's all-time favorite! The family-owned and operated business has had only three chefs since it was founded in 1944: Pasquale “Patsy" Scognamillo, his son Joe, and his grandson Sal. Sal Scognamillo, the current chef and co-owner of Patsy's, recently released a brand new cookbook (with a foreword by longtime customer Ben Stiller!) filled with his family's classic Italian recipes you can recreate at home. We heard from Sal and found out just what makes the Scognamillo family so beloved by many.

Sal Scognamillo

How did you get your start in food?

SS: Patsy's Italian Restaurant of New York is family owned and operated by the Scognamillo family and was started by my grandparents in 1944. In college, I studied communication arts, intending to be a camera man. Before embarking on that career, I asked my dad, Joe, to teach me the kitchen, just in case the camera man gig didn't work out. (My grandfather Pasquale “Patsy" was the first chef). I loved it instantly and never left the kitchen.

Your usual breakfast:

SS: Cereal and a glass of milk

Your ideal kitchen soundtrack:

SS: Sinatra, of course!

Guilty pleasure:

SS: Chocolate. I confess that I'm a chocoholic.

Kitchen utensil you can't live without:

SS: Ladle for serving our famous sauces and a spatula for getting every last drop.

Kitchen utensil you rarely use:

SS: Measuring cup. I go by instinct.

One food you could eat forever:

SS: Pasta.

Food you won't eat:

SS: Foie gras.

Indulgent you're currently loving:

SS: All kinds of biscotti cookies.

Last meal on earth:

SS: Rigatoni Sorrentino with Patsy's Italian Restaurant meatballs and braciole.

Recipe you cherish:

SS: My grandfather Pasquale's recipe for tomato sauce which is the base for all our sauces. Not only is this the secret to our success, but it helps me feel connected to my grandparents who started Patsy's Italian Restaurant over 70 years ago.

Recipe from book that you're most eager for readers to make:

SS: St. Joseph's Zeppoli because this a tradition that I would like to see continue.

Patsys Italian Family Cookbook Cover

Want more? Get Sal's new book, Patsy's Italian Family Cookbook, on Amazon here.

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