This is the second in a series profiling local chefs and sharing their favorite summer recipes.
The joys of cooking are not lost on chef Tom Cutrone, even after more than 30 years in the restaurant business.
"I still get a rise when I see a good plate of food go up in the kitchen," said Cutrone, owner of Savinos Grill in Cushing Square. "You know it's all there; it worked; it's exactly what you were hoping for. I still get – you know I'm 55 years old, and I still get excited about things like that."
Classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Cutrone, a Long Island native, worked at high-end restaurants in New York City and Boston for many years before opening Savinos in April 2007.
The fine-dining eatery, which serves food inspired by Italy and the Mediterranean region, includes a full-service bar and was the first in Belmont to receive a liquor license.
"I always thought Belmont, this area, needed something like this," said Cutrone, a former resident who now resides in Natick. "Before this, there was nothing here like this at all."
Cutrone's menu, which rotates seasonally, now features a porterhouse veal chop, a pistachio crusted tilapia and a black pepper pappardelle, all uniquely garnished and with exquisite sides. He said the liquor license was a necessary step before opening, as wine compliments these fine foods and vice versa.
"To me, a meal isn't complete without a nice glass of wine," he said.
Cutrone grew up in an Italian household where his mother and grandmother made traditional dishes, some of which still influence his menu. In eighth grade, captivated by the cooking show, "The Galloping Gourmet," Cutrone knew he wanted to become a chef.
He has worked at the Tuscan Grill in Waltham, Isabella Restaurant in Dedham and L'Espalier in Boston, where he cooked under the well-known chef Moncef Meddeb, the restaurant's original owner. Savinos, his first and only restaurant, is named after his father.
Cutrone said he has developed a loyal clientele. As for his favorite foods, Cutrone pauses before answering, relishing in the flavors.
"I always have to have polenta and risotto on the menu," he said.
Grilled Shrimp over White Bean Salad (serves four)
12 cleaned U-15 shrimp
12 cups dried white beans
1 bunch scallions
4 slices of pancetta (thin)
¼ cup of diced carrots
¼ cup of diced celery
¼ cup of diced yellow squash
½ tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped herbs (parsley, thyme)
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs (for egg wash)
flour for dusting
2 cups frying oil
½ cup cut strawberries
1 teaspoon of mustard
1 cup of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar
- Marinate shrimp in vegetable oil, garlic, salt and pepper and fresh herbs.
- Soak white beans overnight in refrigerator and then drain and cook in fresh water salted until beans are al dente. Remove beans from water and let cool at room temperature.
- Mix vegetables in bowl with garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, cooled white beans and sliced scallions (reserve some of the scallions for fried garnish).
- Dice pancetta and cook slowly until crispy. Drain fat, lay the pancetta on paper towel and add to vegetable mixture. Also add chopped herbs and salt and pepper.
- Dressing: Add strawberries, mustard, salt and pepper and champagne vinegar in blender, puree. When smooth, add vegetable oil and a splash of water to adjust consistency. Hold for serving.
- Scallion garnish: Dip scallion in egg wash, then in flour and back in egg wash. Lay in heated oil, turn over when crispy and remove from oil. Lay on paper towel, season.
Savinos Grill is located at 449 Common St. and is open Monday through Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.