This year marks the 100th birthday of Ronzoni, the venerable pasta maker that was started by one Emanuele Ronzoni in 1915. To celebrate its centennial the company chose a chef from each New York City’s borough to be the face of Ronzoni. When I received an e-mail stating that Chef Gianna ‘Mamma Gianna’ Cerbone of Manducatis Rustica was named the Ronzoni chef for Queens, I couldn’t help but smile, her restaurant is one of my favorite Italian spots, and, just like Ronzoni, she got her start in Long Island City, Queens.
“Sei la faccia dei Ronzoni,” Cerbone told me some of her relatives from Astoria said with a mixture of pride and disbelief. “For me to be so strong in my heritage and be this strong Queens girl, it just meshed together so well. It’s a big compliment.” Each chef was charged with choosing a pasta and creating a recipe to from crowd-sourced (or in this case crowd-sauced) ingredients. Cerbone drew shrimp and tomato and added her favorite pasta gemelli.
“I love gemelli,” she said as she whipped me up a plate of gemelli ai gamberi. “It was one of my favorite pastas as a child.” “You go to the grocery stores, no one has it left, I went to go buy gemelli no one has gemelli left. It’s crazy. You know what I just found out? No 7. and No. 11 are the top selling spaghettis, I didn’t know that.”
As part of the campaign Ronzoni, donated $5,000 to charity of each chef’s choice. Ever community-minded, Mamma Gianna chose the local chapter of the YMCA.
Singing with the flavors of garlic, basil, and heirloom tomatoes Cerbone’s dish is simple and light. It’s easy enough to make at home by using the following recipe. Or you could stop by Manducatis Rustica and have Mamma Gianna make it for you. If you do make sure to say hello to her for me.
Gemelli E Gamberi by Mamma Gianna
Cook time: 30 Minutes
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
6 leaves fresh basil, whole
1 lb Madagascar Shrimp (butterflied)
2 cups heirloom tomatoes, diced
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
¾ tsp red pepper flakes
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
1 package (16 oz.) RONZONI® Gemelli pasta (uncooked)
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
In a large saucepan on medium heat, heat oil; add garlic and basil. Cook 5 minutes or until browned. Add butterflied Madagascar shrimp. Cook until firm and pink. Stir in tomatoes, white wine, red pepper flakes, salt and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until thoroughly cooked. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Stir pasta into the sauce and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Makes 8 servings
Manducatis Rustica, 46-35 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, 718-937-1312