The Pines' Angelo Romano Looks for Fresh Alligator and Hints at New Project
Part one of my interview with the Pines chef Angelo Romano ran yesterday. Here in part two, he weighs in on fluke cartilage, what else he could have done with the money he spent on culinary school, and why he can't put alligator on the menu even though he wants to.
What would you like to see more of in the New York culinary scene?
I'd like for a long-grain rice phenomenon to happen. That could be a selfish thing, but personal questions are all selfish. I also want there to be a room-temperature food that's unexpected. Room-temperature food is like school-lunch temperature. It's that weird temperature when you can taste all of the flavors. When you taste pizza at room temperature, it's the first time you taste what the sauce tastes like, and whether the cheese has enough salt. I'd be into that.
What do you wish would go away?
People opening osterias and trattorias and Italian-American places and trying to be authentic Italian restaurants.
What's your guiltiest pleasure?
I really like Taco Bell a lot. That's part of my Wednesday routine. I go to the market in the morning, and I go to Taco Bell even if I'm not even hungry. It smells of my childhood. There's something beautiful about that length of consistency. It's like going to therapy. I still get the same feeling of satisfaction. I go to the one in Greenpoint. The one in Union Square is nuts. You don't know what's going to happen in there.
What's your favorite meal to cook at home?
I don't cook at home. Ever. I've had this apartment for over a year, and I've never even turned the stove on.
What's the most memorable meal you've ever eaten?
The first Cesar Ramirez Brooklyn Fare meal. For a year or two, that was one of the best kept secrets. This three-Michelin-star dude was cooking meals for $80, BYOB. That was a game-changer. His stuff was so well-thought-out and balanced, down to chilled spoons with caviar service. And it was Cesar, a dishwasher, and one guy. He was the first proper dude that wasn't doing omakase and started doing tasting menus. It was so personal.
What do you wish you could put on your menu, regardless of how well it would sell?
Alligator. I've been trying to get fresh alligator for like six months, and I've been calling, cursing, and harassing. I can't get it fresh.
What music is best to cook to?
We listen to the same stuff all day long. Jay-Z. Lil Wayne. Rap music. It's fun. I'm tired of listening to the Talking Heads while I eat. It's emotional and drone-y. We play really fun stuff. It's all hip-hop all day. Except at brunch, when people aren't as into it. I don't know why.
Next, Romano talks about his disdain for culinary school.