Rezdôra’s chef Stefano Secchi perfected his Italian cooking at Hosteria Giusti and Osteria Francescana.
Anyone who’s watched Master of None knows all about famed Modena restaurants Hosteria Giusti and Osteria Francescana. Starting tonight, New Yorkers who haven’t had the chance to make the trip out to Italy can dine on strozzapreti, raviolo, and housemade gelatos at Rezdôra, the first solo restaurant from chef Stefano Secchi, who spent the last three years working alongside Giusti’s Nonna Laura Morandi, as well as Massimo Bottura.
What sets Rezdôra (which is the Modenese word for "grandmother") apart from many other Italian restaurants in New York City is the razor-sharp focus on the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, a region in northern Italy that includes cities like Bologna, Modena, Parma, and Ferrara.
“A lot of the time, you go to restaurants and you have the gamut from risotto and tortelli to pici,” says Secchi, who, as a child, spent several months out of the year cooking and eating the region’s cuisine with his family in Sardinia. “In Italy, they call someone who loves to eat pasta a pastaiolo, and that’s what I am. I’m obsessed with pasta!” he says.
Fueled by his deep love for the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, Secchi traveled to Modena and ate at “maybe twenty different trattorias and osterias” in order to discover the best pasta. When he tasted Nonna Morandi’s dishes at Hosteria Giusti, he was blown away and immediately asked for a job at the restaurant. “[Nonna] said, ‘No, we have people asking all the time”, so I came back the next day and the next, and they finally agreed.” Secchi says he and Nonna would go to Mercato Albinelli every morning and to get ingredients for the lunch service, after which they’d spend the rest of the day rolling pasta without a machine. “I’d have to make pasta with 15 or 20 whole eggs depending on how busy we were... It was amazing. You take it for granted until you do it by hand one by one, and the texture and the taste of that pasta is unlike anything I’d ever had.”
At Rezdôra, one of the brightest stars on the menu is the tagliatelle al mattarello, which is traditionally rolled out with an Italian pasta rolling pin known as a mattarello. “I don’t think anyone’s doing that in the city right now because it takes a long time,” Secchi says “What’s so great about it is that you can put more eggs inside of the pasta dough because you don’t need to worry about the friction of the machine. You can get [the dough] really thin and then the tagliatelle should kind of melt in your mouth.” At Rezdora, these noodles come dressed in a traditional ragu bolognese, just like at Hosteria Giusti.
Other menu highlights include guanciale di vitello (veal cheek with spring onion sauce, baby onions, and gremolata), sea bass served with black garlic and pea tendrils, and tender pockets of cappelletti verdi, a spinach pasta stuffed with roasted leeks and mushrooms. For dessert, guests can choose from classic gelato flavors like Amarena cherry and pistachio.
“You can do stuff [in New York] that you see in Italia that’s very hard to sell in other places, so I’m super excited,” Secchi says. "Emilia-Romagna is what’s going to seperate us, and we’re really trying to bring those aggressively authentic flavors to this city."