Article by Carly Stacher
Giorgio Giacinto, chef and owner of Da Giorgio in New Rochelle, NY shares his passion and love for Italian cooking in every plate that comes out of his kitchen.
Giorgio Giacinto was born and raised in New York by his parents who were originally from Calabria, Italy. Upon graduating from high school, he got a grant to attend the New York Restaurant School to study becoming a chef. After having a few brief stints in various restaurants, Giacinto decided to open a DJ and catering group called Renaissance Entertainment, while simultaneously being a physical education teacher and coaching basketball.
After working in the catering industry for a few years, Giacinto wanted to go back to his roots, so he saved enough money to spend the next two years in Italy, traveling from south to north cooking in various restaurants, and especially learning Calabrian cuisine, where he spent one of the two years. After coming back to the United States, he found it hard to find a job, so Giacinto took a job at an American food restaurant. Although after working with him the restaurant owners decided to incorporate his Italian expertise into the menu, Giacinto wasn’t cooking what he loved and what he was good at.
After seven years at this restaurant, Giacinto decided to venture out onto his own and open Da Giorgio, and has loved every day since. Giacinto wanted to highlight Calabrese cooking at Da Giorgio, and make it a different kind of Italian restaurant than what most people were used to. Giacinto is following in his father’s footsteps by, “Taking the roots from Calabria and being able to bring that cuisine and a little something different to the states.”
At Da Giorgio, Giacinto places a lot of importance on making high quality delicious food and outsourcing as little as possible. He stated, “I really take from my roots from Calabria, you know really butchering our fish and our own meats and using every single piece of the fish and the meat.” To stick to this, Giacinto and his team make almost everything they can in house. This includes his pasta, tomato sauce, olives, pickled eggplant, and Italian smoked meats such as mortadella and soppressatta.
One of Giacinto’s principles in his restaurant is to turn simple ingredients into scrumptious dishes. He is always looking to change up the menu and add new things, and in doing so, every night there are about 10-12 specials at Da Giorgio. One of Giacinto’s new and most popular dishes is what he describes as a loaded potato croquette. He makes a large croquette and stuffs it with Italian specialties such as smoked mozzarella, mortadella, and pickled eggplant. The dish has become so popular, that Giacinto is even considering opening a food truck dedicated to this dish and ones similar to it.
Since Da Giorgio is a smaller restaurant, Giacinto has really thrived on word of mouth for gaining new customers and popularity. Although he has been asked about opening a bigger restaurant, Giacinto decided against it because he loves that he gets the chance to work with every aspect of their dishes.
“I want people to get the experience that they know I’m back here and they can feel the passion and love that I put into food,” Giorgio Giacinto said of keeping Da Giorgio small.
While Giacinto will make classic Italian dishes like chicken parmigiana for anyone that asks, he loves that Da Giorgio is not a typical Italian restaurant with their menu. He loves sharing his Calabrian heritage with customers and makes sure to put his love and passion into each plate. Giacinto exemplified this in saying, “We try our best to put out really good food and hope that the next person tells their friend that we got a really good thing going on here.” Giacinto has been recognized numerous times for his kitchen skills, including a feature in The New York Times and in an episode of The Food Network’s Chopped.
One of his favorite kitchen appliances is their pasta maker, which is used many times a day since all of their pastas are made in house. Making everything from scratch means a lot of time in the kitchen for Giacinto and his team, but he loves every second of it. Giacinto gushed about his two kids and wife in saying that he lives a wonderful life and that everyday he turns simple fresh ingredients into something spectacular.
To read more about Da Giorgio, visit here.