The TT 46

Nick Stefanelli

Masseria, Washington, D.C.
Photo: Scott Suchman

Why he killed it in 2015: The burnt-grain pastas, squid-ink splashed turbot and soulful Italian dishes at Bibiana put Stefanelli on the map—and got him two and a half stars from The Washington Post and a spot in Esquire's Best Restaurants—but his deeper dive into the food of his Puglian family is what sets him apart at Masseria. The restaurant is 15 years in the making and fuses Italian grandma techniques, like those pastas made with ground-up oven scraps, and newfangled ones, like crushing squash blossoms into pesto and tossing XO sauce with linguine.

How would you describe your food? "Italian."

What's your signature dish? "I don't have one, but if I have to say through popularity at the restaurant, the linguini with Masseria XO sauce."

What's the dish you'd cook for the rest of your life? "What I love about the linguini olio e peperoncino is its simplicity. It's one of the least complex in preparation, yet one of the most complex in flavor. I never seem to tire of the comfort and spicy elements from the garlic and chile flakes. This dish has a lot of personal history for me; it is a traditional dish of Naples and one that my family and I would often enjoy for dinner both when visiting our relatives in Italy and growing up in the D.C. area. It was one of the first pastas I learned to make as a child and remains a constant favorite."

What are the three essential cookbooks on your shelf? "Le Ricette Regionali Italiane, The French Laundry Cookbook and White Heat."

Find Masseria on DINE.

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