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How Family and Regional Cuisine Inspired Chef Mario LaPosta

Acclaimed Pizzaiolo and Chef of the eponymous da LaPosta shares the five dishes that have inspired his career.

By Mario LaPosta

10:19 AM EDT on October 26, 2023

Chef Mario LaPosta.

With over 20 years learning and working in some of the best pizzerias in Rome, Campania and New York, Chef Mario LaPosta now helms the kitchen of his first restaurant, da LaPosta, in Newton, Mass. The wood-fired pizzeria, affectionately named after and for his family, showcases the recipes from his childhood that ultimately inspired his dream of opening his own restaurant. Here are some of the dishes that inspired his career.

House Made Ricotta

A family friend from Sicily taught me how to make ricotta when I was a teenager. Our house-made ricotta can be found in a number of our dishes at da LaPosta, such as our Fiori di Zucca (zucchini flowers) or as a topping on a number of our pizzas. My favorite way to enjoy it, though, is featured on our per iniziare ("starters") menu. It's finished with some really good Sardinian orange honey, olive oil and dry oregano from Campania, where my family is from in Italy.

House Made Ricotta.

Eggplant Parmigiana

While a number of our dishes at da LaPosta are influenced by my family, I also take great inspiration from the wonderful bounty available here in New England. Our eggplant parmigiana is a true fusion of both aspects of my cooking. This dish was a household staple not just in southern Italy, but also in my home as a child. The version we make at da LaPosta is made in the traditional way with every ingredient except for the Pecorino Romano being sourced from local farms.

Eggplant Parmigiana.

My Mom’s Tiramisu

Tiramisu was not only my favorite dish my mom would make when I was growing up but also the dish my mom taught me that helped inspire my passion for cooking and bringing people together over food. While tiramisu is a common Italian staple, my mom’s is truly the best. Her version has the perfectly light consistency that isn’t too sweet, thanks to her secret tip: adding a little espresso and coffee liqueur to the cream filling.

Tiramisu.

Nonna's Polpette

This dish not only pays homage to my mom but also her 14 grandchildren who have come to love the dish. Our polpette (meatballs in tomato sauce) start with local beef, which we grind in-house, sourced from Chickering Farm in New Hampshire. I learned two tips from my mom: 1) the amount of bread and cheese to use in the meatball mixture and 2) to always use a fork to turn the meatballs when pan-frying them. Her polpette were always super crispy on the outside, so we roast ours in the pizza oven to reach that same level of crispiness. They’re then topped with a touch house-made sauce and Sardinian ricotta salata that's been smoked in chestnut wood.

Nonna's Polpette.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Living and working in Rome for a year and subsequent frequent visits taught me that the carbonara served in most American restaurants is not made the traditional way. We make an authentic carbonara at da LaPosta, using spaghetti, farm-fresh eggs, cracked black pepper, quality guanciale, and both Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano sourced from Italy. That’s it—no added cream!

Spaghetti Carbonara.
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