My Dinner with Angelo
Previously of Chianti and Casa Antica, Chef Angelo DiFiore returns to the Sarasota scene boasting big flavor.
SRQ MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2016
BY PHIL LEDERER IN AT THE TABLE
Walking out of Angelo’s Ristorante on South Tamiami Trail, it’s hard to say what you’ll miss more: the chef or the food—and after a four-course meal beginning with shrimp and lobster and ending with piping-hot Bananas Foster in a chilled martini glass, that’s no small statement. A veteran Italian chef whose accent speaks to his authenticity, owner Angelo DiFiore bounds from kitchen to table to table to kitchen with a bubbling enthusiasm that might seem artificial from any other. Shaking hands, trading stories, swapping jokes and taking his time with every table, Angelo cultivates an easy-going and comfortable air belying the outstanding culinary prowess soon brought to bear for each fortunate foodie to walk through the door. “Ninety-nine percent of them are my friends,” says Angelo, and he may even mean it. “And when they come over here, it’s like they come to my house.” The only downside to this, as far as he could see, would be if he was stuck in the kitchen while his friends ate out front, so he cooked up a tableside service to match his effusive demeanor. “Being in the kitchen, I have no time to talk to them, have a glass of wine with them and be with them,” Angelo says. “Now, before you leave, we become friends. Angelo’s is better than everyone because Angelo is your friend.”
Rolling his little white cart to the table, Angelo flashes a grin. “You get what you see,” he says. “No false advertising.” After an appetizer of lobster tails and brandy set aflame before your eyes, it seems difficult to top the spectacle for the main course, but Angelo delivers. With one side laden with freshly cooked pasta with mushrooms and sausage bathing in a white creamy sauce, the other end of the cart is dominated by a massive 50-pound wheel of imported Italian Parmesan cheese, the top cut off and the insides partially scooped out to form a bowl. With the pasta simmering and steaming on a portable hotplate, Angelo takes to the Parmesan bowl with a massive spoon, scraping flakes of semi-stinky cheese free from the hole in great swaths. Dumping the pasta directly into the Parmesan bowl, he mixes the now-melting scrapings into the dish for a cheesy concoction to make the doge blush. Transferring back to the original plate, Angelo takes a moment to scrape the parmesan bowl clean and layers the dish with another hearty helping of gooey goodness. “You don’t have to be beautiful,” he says. “You have to be good.”