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Home > CHEF SECRETS > Las Vegas Chef Secrets > Piero Selvaggio (Delicacy: Bottarga, Recipe and Wine Pairing)

Piero Selvaggio

Where Sardinia Meets Sicily: Spaghetti with Clams and Bottarga Paired with a Sicilian Grecanico

    Piero Selvaggio
Founder: Valentino Restaurant Group

Because he consistently has one of the world's 10 best wine lists, according to Wine Spectator, when we have a wine related question, we turn to our very own wine expert: renowned restaurateur Piero Selvaggio, who also happens to be our resident expert on Italian cuisine. Indeed, Selvaggio's place in America's Italian fine-dining hall of fame is irrefutable, as he was one of the pioneers responsible for bringing culinary excellence to Las Vegas and now has restaurants in Santa Monica, Las Vegas and Houston. With his passion and persistence, he's turned a simple $4,500 investment into a renowned restaurant and consulting empire. Because he's such a resourceful repository of culinary knowledge, we therefore asked Selvaggio to educate us about some of his favorite and most unusual delicacies. For his first piece he's chosen Bottarga, providing us with a delicious recipe and wine pairing, courtesy of his executive chef at the original Valentino, his flagship restaurant!

Where Sardinia Meets Sicily:
Spaghetti with Clams and Bottarga Paired with a Sicilian Grecanico

An unusual but delicious food & wine pairing courtesy of:
Valentino Restaurant Group founder Piero Selvaggio and
Valentino Santa Monica Executive Chef Nicola Chessa

Bottarga, often referred to as the “poor man’s caviar,” is essentially the roe of Mediterranean tuna, gray mullet and sometimes, swordfish. It’s an extremely popular dish – especially in the Italian regions of Sardinia and Sicily. The eggs are gently extracted from the fish, washed, salted, pressed, sun dried and then cured into a dry slab and coated with beeswax so it keeps its shape. When properly stored, Bottarga can be kept for up to 3 or 4 months. Bottarga is typically added at the end of the dish, simply grated on top of whatever is served. Its taste is rich, savory and briny – like a bite of the ocean – and adds a tremendous depth of flavor to whatever it’s paired with. The simple recipe below is for Spaghetti with Clams and Bottarga. It pairs very nicely with a chilled glass of Grecanico – a white Italian grape from Sicily that is golden in color and produces a wine very similar in taste to that of Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes tend to ripen late into the season, producing a fresh, tangy and crisp wine that provides a nice acidity and finish – a perfect match for this dish. Some of the more popular producers are DiGiovanna, Firriato and DeBartoli. The wine is very affordable ($10-15 retail) and can be found in a variety of specialty food and wine shops around the country.

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