Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (2024)

Editor’s Note: The new season of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” starts Sunday, May 1, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Don’t miss the premiere where Tucci travels to Venice to try the local delicacies from baccalà mantecato to squid ink risotto.


With international travel still on the rebound, Italy lovers around the world are getting their fix any way and anywhere.

Cue the transportive power of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.” Season two premieres on CNN Sunday, May 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Uncovering millennia of culinary history while weaving tales of local culture and real people, season one of the show had viewers salivating over the featured dishes and showcasing their own attempts to replicate them on Instagram and Twitter.

We’re confident in your abilities. But just in case your attempts haven’t quite hit the mark, CNN Travel reached out to the restaurants and chefs behind some of the most tantalizing Italian classics in season one.

Related article How Italy changed Stanley Tucci forever

So as season two gets under way, with appetites more than whetted, here are six of the recipes many viewers have been hankering after.

The recipes are listed in US and metric measurements and have been adapted for home use by the restaurant or chef.

Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (1)

Armando al Pantheon's rigatoni all'Amatriciana

Rigatoni all’Amatriciana (Rigatoni With Guanciale and Tomatoes)

Armando al Pantheon, Rome

Recipe courtesy of Claudio Gargioli and Fabrizio Gargioli (chef and owners)

This popular Roman trattoria serves up authentic cuisine from its enviable location in the shadow of the Pantheon. Chef Claudio Gargioli is renowned for his quality take on traditional dishes including this delicious pasta with Amatriciana: rigatoni served in a tomato sauce made with crispy pork cheek and topped with local pecorino romano.

Makes 6 servings



1 tablespoon | 15 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil

4½ ounces | 120 grams guanciale (cured pork jowl)

½ glass dry white wine

6-7 San Marzano tomatoes

1¼ pounds | 600 grams rigatoni (or bucatini)

3½ ounces | 100 grams grated pecorino romano

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Chop the guanciale into thick strips (about 1 inch or 2 to 3 centimeters wide), add it to the pan and cook until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the white wine, cook for a minute to reduce, then remove the guanciale from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Add tomatoes to the pan with the remaining oil and fat from the guanciale. Use a wooden spoon to flatten the tomatoes and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Cook the rigatoni in the pot of boiling water according to package instructions until al dente, add the guanciale back into the pan of tomatoes then drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.

5. Toss everything together well then divide into portions and serve with a sprinkle of grated pecorino and a crack of freshly ground black pepper.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)

C.BIO, Florence

Recipe courtesy of Fabio Picchi

For a true taste of Tuscany, all you need is a hot grill, good-quality meat and the secrets of Florentine meat-master Fabio Picchi. The classic fiorentina steak is served browned on the outside and very rare on the inside for a melt-in-the-mouth experience that encompasses all of the flavors of the land.

Makes 3 to 4 servings


1 fiorentina steak (porterhouse or T-bone, about 3.5 pounds | 1.6 kilograms)

A few small olive branches (optional as may only be found in more Mediterranean climates)


Extra-virgin olive oil

The key to a good fiorentina is a top-quality, well-aged piece of beef so be sure to visit a trusted butcher and request that the steak be cut to the height of a matchstick (about the width of three fingers).

The meat must be cooked over a hot grill, barbecue or fireplace for a truly authentic result.


1. Leave the meat at room temperature for at least 8 hours before you plan to grill it.

2. Prepare the fire well in advance and make sure the embers are white-hot and glowing.

3. Now for the secret: Distribute some small olive branches over the embers. This will not only prevent burning by catching the first fats that fall from the steak, but it will add an extra earthy element of flavor to the meat.

4. Place the meat on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes then turn and cook the other side for a further 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on each side during cooking.

5. Remove from the grill, carve out the bone and slice the meat into pieces. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil before serving.

Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (3)

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This Sicilian pasta dish is perfect for summer

01:02 - Source: CNN

Pasta Alla Norma (Sicilian Pasta With Eggplant, Tomatoes and Ricotta)

Ristorante Me Cumpari Turiddu, Catania

Recipe courtesy of Gianluca Leocata (chef) and Roberta Capizzi (owner)

Roberta Capizzi’s welcoming Catania restaurant is a shrine to Sicily with everything from the food and wine to the friendly atmosphere showcasing the very best of the island. Chef Gianluca Leocata’s version of traditional Pasta Alla Norma is an ode to Sicilian summer with ripe, juicy eggplant paired with a succulent tomato sauce and topped with local salted ricotta.

Makes 4 servings


18 ounces | 500 grams eggplant


Vegetable oil for frying

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

1.5 pints | 700 milliliters tomato puree

18 ounces | 500 grams fresh macaroni (or dried macaroni)

5 fresh basil leaves

2 ounces | 50 grams ricotta salata (salted ricotta)

Special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer

Related article 'Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy': What's on the menu


1. Cut the eggplant lengthways into slices about ⅓ inch (1 centimeter) thick, sprinkle with salt and layer in a colander. Leave for at least 30 minutes to drain off any bitter juices.

2. Pour the vegetable oil in a large, heavy, deep-sided pan or Dutch oven until it comes about 1 inch up the sides. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius). Rinse and dry the eggplant, then fry in batches until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

3. Cut the fried eggplant into chunks (keeping some whole pieces aside for garnish).

4. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil with the whole, peeled garlic clove then add the strips of eggplant followed by the tomato puree (known as passata in Italy) and 1 fresh basil leaf. Leave to cook gently until the tomato sauce becomes dense and sweet, about 1 hour.

5. When the sauce is almost ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce, remove the garlic clove and mix well.

Divide into 4 bowls and top each with the reserved slices of eggplant, a grating of salted ricotta and a leaf of fresh basil.

Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (4)

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To make this Bolognese, skip the tomato sauce

01:00 - Source: CNN

Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese (Tagliatelle With Meat Sauce)

Casa Artusi, Forlimpopoli

Recipe by Pellegrino Artusi (from his book “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene” published in 1891)

The Casa Artusi foundation, named after celebrated 19th-century cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi, is dedicated to Italian home cookery and gastronomic culture. Their historic recipe for bolognese veal ragù is made without tomato and is cited as the first ever recorded recipe. Quick and simple to prepare at home, elevate the flavors further by adding a sprinkle of truffle shavings before serving.

Makes 4 servings



14 ounces | 400 grams tagliatelle (or macaroni)

5½ ounces | 150 grams lean veal (preferably fillet)

2 ounces | 50 grams pancetta

¼ onion

½ carrot

2 medium celery stalks

1½ ounces | 40 grams unsalted butter

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon | 5 milliliters all-purpose flour

Nutmeg (optional)

1 pint | 500 milliliters good-quality beef stock

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

2. Cut the veal into very small pieces and finely chop the pancetta, onion, carrot and celery.

3. Heat the butter in a pan and add the veal, pancetta and vegetables all at the same time; season with black pepper and a tiny pinch of salt.

4. Once the veal has browned, add a sprinkle of flour, nutmeg if desired, and a ladle of stock.

5. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, continuing to add more stock as necessary. Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain, toss together with the sauce and serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (5)

Spaghetti alle zucchine is a Tucci favorite.

Spaghetti Alle Zucchine (Spaghetti With Zucchini and Basil)

Lo Scoglio, Massa Lubrense

Recipe courtesy of Tommaso de Simone (chef)

Chef Tommaso de Simone of Lo Scoglio celebrates the fabulous flavors of the Amalfi Coast by using fresh local fish and seasonal produce from the family farm at this stunning seafront restaurant. His recipe for spaghetti served with sweet zucchini, savory parmesan and aromatic basil is the perfect example of quality ingredients carefully combined with love and attention. For extra decadence stir through a spoonful of butter before serving.

Makes 4 servings


Sunflower oil for frying

6 medium zucchini


14 ounces | 400 grams spaghetti

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (preferably aged 2 years)

1 bunch fresh basil leaves


1. Heat a generous amount of sunflower oil in a large saucepan.

2. Slice the zucchini into thin rounds and then fry in the hot oil until they begin to turn golden. Drain the zucchini with a slotted spoon, place in a bowl and leave in the fridge to rest and soften for at least 2 hours.

3. When you are ready to prepare the dish, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water for the next step.

4. Heat the rested zucchini in a large frying pan along with 2 ladles of the spaghetti cooking water and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper if desired.

5. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the zucchini. Remove the pan from the heat, add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss everything together well.

6. Divide into 4 portions, sprinkle each bowl with more Parmigiano-Reggiano and top with a few fresh basil leaves before serving.

Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (6)

Chef Cesare Battisti's costoletta di vitello

Costoletta di Vitello (Veal Chop Milanese)

Ratanà, Milan

Recipe courtesy of Cesare Battisti (chef)

Milan’s Ratanà restaurant champions both traditional and modern versions of the city’s cuisine, such as these iconic Milanese breaded veal cutlets. Chef Cesare Battisti shares his faultless method, which involves a hit of fragrant fresh sage and a generous dose of clarified butter to ensure maximum golden crispiness.

Makes 4 servings


4 veal cutlets (15 ounces | 450 grams each)

5 eggs


14 ounces | 400 grams fine breadcrumbs

20 ounces | 600 grams clarified butter

30-40 fresh sage leaves


1. Trim any excess meat or fat from the bone of each cutlet, scraping the bone with a sharp knife to clean it completely.

2. Use your hands to flatten down the meat. Each cutlet should be approximately 1 inch (2 to 3 centimeters) thick.

3. Beat the eggs with a little salt then coat each cutlet first in egg and then in a layer of breadcrumbs, patting well so that they are evenly covered.

4. Cook each cutlet separately: Heat 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) clarified butter in a frying pan then place the breaded cutlet into the pan with 2 or 3 sage leaves and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Don’t turn the cutlet over but continue to add more butter and sage during this time and constantly spoon over the melted butter to ensure that the top coating of breadcrumbs is golden and crispy.

5. Remove the cutlet and dry on absorbent paper. Let rest for 2 minutes, sprinkle with salt and serve.

Maria Pasquale is an Italian-Australian food and travel writer based in Rome. Author of “I Heart Rome” and founder of the award-winning blog HeartRome, her adventures can be followed on Instagram @heartrome. Maria’s second book, “How to be Italian,” was released in November 2021.

Six sought-after recipes from the first season of ‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ | CNN (2024)


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