If your idea of intellectual stimulation is watching a Britney Spears interview, then read no further. If, however, you are interested in the happy confluence that is my favorite book, Italian restaurant, and pasta dish, then you’ve come to the right place.
Il Gattopardo, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in NYC, is the namesake of my favorite book, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, published in 1958, a year after his death. (Luchino Visconti made the movie in 1963, but I don’t think it does the book justice.) It’s the story of the Prince of Salina, during the waning days of Sicilian aristocracy, when Sicily was part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and controlled by the Bourbons. It’s not the lightest read – dense musings about love, life, war, politics, family, religion, and death, all cleverly masking the simple story of a man and his dog, but if you can get past the first 25 pages, you won’t put it down.
The restaurant bases its menu on the cuisine from The Kingdom of Two Sicilies (Southern Italy and Sicily). Chef Vito Gnazzo, from Salerno, oversees the kitchen from which he makes my favorite spaghetti con bottarga di muggine (the cured roe pouch of gray mullet). I love it! And the book and the restaurant. His version is better than mine, but you’ll get the idea.
Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
In a large skillet over medium-low heat, sauté the red pepper and garlic in the olive oil until just fragrant - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook the spaghetti until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directions), drain and add to the olive oil mixture over medium heat. Add the parsley and toss to combine. Add the grated bottarga; toss until it is well incorporated.
Grated and dried bottarga, in a jar, can be substitued if fresh is not available. Tuna bottarga can be used. You can find either at a specialty market or online.