Growing up in Rome sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Well, that’s where Rickie Piper, Executive Chef at D’Angelo Trattoria, spent much of his life--- it’s also where he realized his love and passion for cooking. Piper has studied under some of Italy’s most prominent and award-winning chefs; he’s also been in the kitchens of top fine dining restaurants in Germany, Florence, and throughout Europe. Although he loved the country of his family, he always dreamed of returning to the U.S. where he was born. That came true in 2011, when he was invited by acclaimed chef Angelo Elia to be at the helm of his popular restaurant, Casa D’Angelo. He tells us here about his Delray Beach restaurant, his time in Rome, and his favorite holiday meal.
Most popular item on the menu?
Definitely, the pappardelle with sausage and baby meatball ragout. Customers can’t stop talking about it. The combination of the sausage and baby meatballs makes it really flavorful. We have people coming back regularly asking for it.
How would you describe South Florida’s dining scene?
Very unique and very impressive. There are so many different ethnicities and cultures here and so many dining options. I think we have some of the most talented chefs in the country and we are recognized for our great dining scene.
At what point did you realize you were destined to be a chef?
When I was 8 years old, I knew I had a passion for food and for cooking. I remember being in the kitchen with my family, the great smells. Everyone was happy and having fun, and I loved to help make people smile with food I made.
The 5 utensils every kitchen should have?
Knives, tongs, laydle, whisk, and a strainer.
First dish you learned to make?
Sausage and ricotta lasagna. I learned it from the women in my family when I was a kid and remember being so happy when everyone loved the dish and was smiling.
Favorite dish to make at home?
Spaghetti with garlic and oil. It’s simple and easy, but it is always delicious. Whether it’s a quiet night at home or if you have friends and family over, this is a dish that never disappoints.
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?
Ribeye steak, hands down. I could eat this every day if I had to and be happy. Also, spaghetti with garlic and oil. I could survive forever on both of those.
Tell us a little more about your restaurant.