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How Family, Marriage, and a Celebrity Inspired Chef Anthony Scotto

Anthony Scotto, Owner and Executive Chef of two Nashville restaurants, shares his culinary inspirations born in New York City.

Executive Chef and Restaurateur Anthony Scotto.
Executive Chef and Restaurateur Anthony Scotto.

Boasting over 35 years of experience, Anthony Scotto is a nationally acclaimed entrepreneur, chef, and personality in the hospitality industry. He is currently the owner and executive chef of two restaurants in Nashville, Lougo, the seasonally-driven, coastal-inspired Italian restaurant, and Pelato, the Brooklyn-Italian restaurant.  

Scotto has built his career developing successful culinary concepts including Bar One, Bobby Rubino’s, Fresco by Scotto, Fresco on the Go, and now Luogo and Pelato. Anthony founded the beloved New York restaurant Fresco by Scotto in the early 1990s as well as its takeaway sister concept, Fresco on the Go, shortly thereafter. Today, Fresco by Scotto has become one of the longest-lasting single-restaurant establishments in New York.

Scotto appears frequently on The Today Show and has been featured in The New York Times, New York, and many others. An avid and life-long Yankees fan, he was a featured chef for the Yankees VIP Legends seating area for 15 years.

In 2022, Scotto and his family made the decision to move to Nashville, where he opened Luogo and then Pelato in summer 2023.

Here, he shares the dishes from his past that inspire his cooking today.

Mom’s Potato Croquettes
My mother-in-law Theresa, known affectionately to me as “Mom,” has been making potato croquettes for over 80 years. The recipe hails from her father, who owned a small focacceria on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, NYC. There’s not a holiday that goes by where my family doesn’t beg her to make this surprisingly labor-intensive treat. When I was opening Pelato, she was in the kitchen for days teaching our cooks how to blend a few ingredients, mostly potato, cheese, and breadcrumbs, into one of the most popular dishes on our menu. She comes in weekly as our official croquette quality control expert.

Potato Croquettes by Anthony Scotto.
Potato Croquettes by Anthony Scotto.

Our Family’s Sunday Sauce (Get the recipe!)
Back in the days when meat was a luxury item, there was no better way to celebrate a good week or special occasion in Italian-American households than with a Sunday Sauce. My Mom and Dad learned the process from their parents, and I now do it with my children. A slowly simmered tomato sauce containing an array of meats, including meatballs, pork ribs, sausage, and the coveted brasciola, Sunday Sauce makes the perfect topping for a heaping bowl of fresh fusilli pasta. Carrying on the tradition, we only serve this dish on Sundays and in small enough quantities where we can really replicate the same home-cooked taste I remember from childhood.

Sunday Sauce by Anthony Scotto.

Peach Melba
Despite not being an Italian dessert per se, Peach Melba is an unmistakably NYC golden-era dish. It is my wife Theresa’s all-time favorite dessert, and for the sake of my marriage, this one had to go on the menu. Typically served in a tall glass, we layer canned peaches, peach mousse, raspberries, and whipped cream into an impressive homage to the countless swanky NYC restaurants that served this dish when I was growing up. And my marriage is better for it too.

Peach Melba by Anthony Scotto.
Peach Melba by Anthony Scotto.

Panelle
With all of the new restaurants popping up in Brooklyn recently, we always say that the sign of a real focacceria is serving panelle. A simple combination of water, salt, and chickpea flour, panelle are extremely hard to prepare properly and are a dying art form. Achieving the proper thickness and consistency takes months of practice, with even the slightest change in the weather, or differences in flour or water, having huge effects on the finished product. Fried until a golden and puffed crisp, we serve them with a dollop of ricotta cheese. This dish was the inspiration for creating Pelato restaurant, and it will always be a staple for us.

panelle
Panelle.

Eggplant and Zucchini Pie
Although many people assume that this dish has been on my menus since the beginning, it hasn’t. I had always served an eggplant parmigiana dish of some sort, but the eggplant and zucchini pie came about when Kathy Lee Gifford asked for some zucchini to be layered in one day. When Kathy Lee asks for something, you make it happen! Ever since that day, this dish has been on my menus. I brought it down to Nashville with me when we opened Luogo as one of the core menu items. We now have received a “thumbs up” from Kathy Lee in two states!

Eggplant and Zucchini Pie by Anthony Scotto.
Eggplant and Zucchini Pie by Anthony Scotto.
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