Growing up in an Italian-American household the product of Sicilian and Calabrian heritage, I didn’t learn much proper Italian. My language lessons were limited to staizitt’ and the like. Thus it’s not surprising that when I first heard of the maccheroncini dello stretto at Long Island City’s Tutti Matti, I assumed the name meant “little macaroni of the street.” This assumption was aided by a spicy seafood flavor that called to mind spaghetti alla puttanesca. After all it doesn’t get more street than the whore’s pasta.
My linguistic assumption was only half right. Stretto doesn’t mean street at all. It’s the Italian word for strait, in this case the Strait of Messina, which straddles Sicily and Calabria. Chunks of Sicilian tuna give a a maritime flavor to the sauce that coats the short twists of homemade pasta. Calabria contributes the warming heat via ’nduja, a pepperry spreadable pork salumi, while onions and tomatoes round out the picture.
Chef Luigi Esposito created maccheroncini dello stretto to combine the flavors of Sicily and Calabria. As someone who’s been well-served by that fiery fusion for more than 40 years, I wholeheartedly approve of his invention. Not only is this Italian-American boy glad to have tried it; he’s glad to know a bit more of la lingua del Dante.