Who better to make authentic Italian cuisine than a homegrown Italian chef? Originally from the Fruili region of northeast Italy (close to Austria and Slovenia), Chef Andrea Rainis has offered fresh, creative and well-prepared food at Dolce Vino at the Claridge Hotel since it opened its doors in November 2010. Before that, he graced the kitchens of Piola and Balans on South Beach. He tells us here about his most popular plate, his back-to-basics mentality and his wife’s love for risotto.
I'm sure all the dishes on each of your menus are like your children, but if you had to choose only one dish from the menu, which ones are you most proud of?
Mustard and pistachio-encrusted lamb chops, with a mint butternut squash sauce.
Most popular item on the menu?
The pistachio crusted sea bass over a vegetable capponata.
How would you describe Miami's dining scene?
Dynamic. There's new places pop up all the time, different concepts and old concepts revisited. Absolutely NOT boring.
The secret to cooking perfect pasta?
Do not overcook it. You must keep it al dente for the dish to come together.
At what point did you realize you were destined to be a chef?
I always cooked, since I was little (actually, almost everybody in Italy does). But growing up, I became more and more curious and started to really enjoy cooking for other people. Now I love cooking for a living.
The 5 ingredients every kitchen should have?
Pasta, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, parmesan cheese and coarse salt.
First dish you learned to make?
A simple dish--- spaghetti with tomato and basil.
Favorite dish to make at home?
Risotto -- any kind of it. My wife loves it!
What's your favorite food to eat? In other words, what could you live off of for the rest of your life if you had to?
Any kind of red meat. Yes, I am a carnivore!
Tell us a little more about your restaurant.
Dolce Vino offers traditional Italian cuisine with a modern twist. We like to incorporate local flavors as well. The setting is cozy, romantic, we like you to feel at home, always surrounded by friends.
If there’s one tip or piece of advice you could give to all aspiring chefs out there, what would it be?
Be open-minded, don’t be afraid of trying new things and don’t forget the basics. Keep it simple.
Published at 7:56 AM EDT on Oct 23, 2011