Kitchen Inquisition: Nino Pernetti

Nino Pernetti may be a simple man, but the taste of his new, healthier menu is far from it

Nino Pernetti is no stranger to the food industry, winning over both celebrities and locals alike with his Italian charm. This month, the restaurateur celebrates the 20th anniversary of Caffe Abbracci, an Italian restaurant located in Coral Gables, with a new menu. We asked the well-versed Pernetti for some insight on what he knows best.

I'm sure all the dishes on Abbracci's new menu are like your children, but which one are you most proud of?
Agnolotti "Katerina" and Tortellini "Tatiana," which I named after my two loving daughters. The Agnolotti "Katerina" is a homemade agnolotti filled with spinach and ricotta cheese with a light pink sauce and the Tortellini "Tatiana" is also homemade pasta filled with Asiago cheese and pear in a light champagne pink sauce. My daughters and delicious pasta and Parmesan cheese - perfect combination!

How would you describe Miami? And Miami's dining scene?
20 years ago, when I first established Caffe Abbracci, Miami, and Coral Gables specifically, was a laid back residential village with little choice in dining. Today, Coral Gables has become the Manhattan of Miami, with many choices. I am proud to be in Miami - it has given me a home away from Italy with a multi-cultural excitement that creates a perfect environment for good food.

The five ingredients every home kitchen should have:
* good olive oil
* good sea salt
* good red wine vinegar
* good red wine for cooking but that you would drink during dinner
* good meat and poultry demi-glace

The five utensils every home kitchen should have:
* blender
* strainer
* knife
* chopper
* heavy duty pan

Which chefs do you look up to and why?
Wolfgang Puck for his innovative cuisine. His dishes reflect non-traditional gastronomical combinations that would make Auguste Escoffier, the founder of traditional French cuisine, cry. Wolfgang Puck has the knowledge and vision to create delicious dishes with seldom paired tastes and ingredients. The results are outstanding, unexpected and very pleasant to the palette.

Your favorite dish growing up?
Cannelloni with meat filling, lots of garlic and parsley.

Your fondest food-related memory?
From a young age, I traveled often and when I came home to visit, my mother would always prepare me Peperonata, an Italian version of the French dish ratatouille, with bell peppers and zucchini. I would eat four rolls of it at every sitting. It is one of my favorite dishes but it also brings me back to very fond memories throughout my life.

Favorite dish to make at home?
Simple whole fish in the oven with salt, lemon, olive oil and parsley.

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