© Kate CunninghamHere’s a question Jonathan Benno gets a lot: Why is he changing from the French-influenced kitchen at Per Se to cook a 100 percent Italian menu at Lincoln (opening September 26rd, give or take a few days). After all, he worked in France, not Italy, and cooked in French restaurants. “I always liked Italy the best,” he says. “I wanted to focus on one cuisine and represent it as well as I can.” At Lincoln, he’ll take traditional Italian dishes and tweak them—sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little bit. A case in point: his outstanding lasagna verde Bolognese, with layers of rich three-meat Bolognese sauce and plenty of gooey mozzarella, which he’ll pretty much bake to order in individual springform pans. He makes the delicate pasta with dehydrated spinach (he gets it in 50 pound bags from Ohio; he says it’s the same place Ronzoni sources its spinach from). He’ll probably make it for his old boss Thomas Keller when he comes to check out Lincoln. Is he nervous to cook for Keller? No. “It’s easier to cook for him than a lot of other people,” says Benno. “By now, I pretty much know what he likes.”
An adaptation of Benno’s elegant and delicious lasagna verde Bolognese, for home cooks, after the jump.
And for more pasta recipes, check out 's just-out October wine issue, featuring all things Italian-American.