Attending the kick-off for Restaurant Week Boston, I was able to meet several local chefs. One of the chefs was Mike Pagliarini, executive chef at Via Matta. Having enjoyed the Tuscan Ribs he served, I decided to learn more about this talented chef.
TT: How long have you been working in the restaurant industry? For how long have you been working as a chef?
MP: I’ve been cooking for about 10 years, in both Boston and Chicaco. My first sous-chef positions was at Radius in September of 2004, and I’ve been the executive chef at Via Matta since June of 2007.
TT: What is your favorite Italian dish to make at Via Matta?
MP: My favorite dish…that’s always a difficult question. Right now I enjoy preparing a very traditional dish from Piemonte called Bagna Cauda. It a very simple sauce made from anchovy, garlic, olive oil and butter. It’s served warm, often over a candle, with an assortment of vegetables for dipping. So few ingredients, yet so difficult to get it just right. And now with spring almost upon us, there’s such an assortment of vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, whole baby fava beans tender enough to eat while still in their pod. This simple sauce brings it all together. And if you’re in the right mood, shave some truffles over the warm sauce!
TT: What makes Via Matta different than all of the other Italian restaurants?
MP: It’s the meatball sauce. Just kidding. I think we are good at capturing the spirit of Italian dining, not just cooking but the whole context of the meal. Once you pass around a large bowl of our homemade tagliatelle, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
TT: What do you like about being a chef in Boston? What do you dislike about being a chef in Boston?
MP: Boston has a great community of chefs. We all know one another and enjoy working together. Also, from a more hands-on perspective, the quality of produce, meat and seafood is excellent. Each year there is a stronger and stronger network of local purveyors that make us chefs look good, but it can be a long winter. It’s hard to get people out in January and February. And the ground is frozen, so hopefully you’ve done enough pickling, canning and preserving to make it until spring!
TT: Do you cook at home? If so, what dish do you like to cook there?
MP: Yes, I cook on Sundays. It doesn’t feel like home unless there’s something on the stove. I recently made a large batch of turkey chili with ceci beans, grated carrots, golden raisins, fresh mint and red pepper flakes, enough to last the whole week. Oh, and pasta. My wife Pam and I are always ready for bowls of pasta with a simple tomato sauce or just some olive oil and garlic.