What’s your favourite ingredient?
Just like asking for my favourite song, it’s pretty much impossible to give an answer. It really depends on mood, time of the year and endless other factors. As a general rule I would say classic and simple flavours, but from top quality ingredients. If you ever had the chance to taste fruits just picked from a tree, you will know the difference from most store-bought ones. A clementine or a tomato can be so fulfilling on the aromatic spectrum that you would be blown away.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
I unfortunately have many. I oscillate like a pendulum between overweight/binge eating and strict diets/maniacal portion control. Indulging on half a gallon of gelato, or having a calorie stroke by Nutella waffle, or eating the entire equivalent of Mars’ surface in chips are some examples.
Tell us about your first food memory
I remember as a young child roaming around my mother while she was preparing pudding and sweets. I’ve always been fond of helping her, particularly when crostata was involved. This is a traditional baked tart filled with jam and in my memories it was always strawberry or apricot. I used to taste the dough still raw, and absolutely loved it. Apart from the childhood magic, what made these pies so fantastic was the fragrant lemon zest, coming from fruits just picked up from our garden, and the outstanding jams and marmalade made by Auntie Paola.
What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?
Fhior is the first that comes to mind. Possibly because I come from a fine dining background and love Nordic cuisine and Scandinavian culture. I’ve always chased the Nordic side of Scottish cuisine, and during the few years I spent in Inverness I enjoyed foraging and making the most of the great outdoors.
What would be your last supper?
An amazing 20 oz Aberdeen Angus rib-eye with lardo di Colonnata melting on top, a Swabian-style potato salad and some focaccia drenched in extra virgin olive oil. I used to indulge in this dish many years ago. I believe it would be lethal to me today due to the amount of cholesterol, hence a fitting last supper scenario.
Starter or dessert?
I’ve always been a great lover of pastry and everything sweet so I would be lying to say I’m not a dessert guy.
Do you have any food hates?
I’ve noticed my hates changing through the years. For instance, I remember detesting cucumber, but now I’m completely fine with it. One of the few that still lingers is anchovies. That’s quite disrupting for me, being Sicilian, but I can’t help it.
What starter, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party?
That’s a tricky one. At this very moment I would say: gambero rosso tartare, barbecued Swordfish steak and to finish a gelo di melone, which is a pudding made with watermelon juice, jasmine, dark chocolate and pistachio. That’s a very traditional Sicilian combination, ready for summer.
Divino Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar is at 5 Merchant Street, Edinburgh (0131 225 17770, www.divinoedinburgh.com)