Italian Supper Club at Massimo Bruno’s—that was the notation in my daytimer for Friday, April 2, 7 p.m. We really didn’t know what to expect, other than that we would be sharing an Italian meal cooked by Massimo Bruno in his studio/kitchen and we would be eating with about 20 other people, all strangers.
We arrived a bit early and were greeted warmly by Massimo and his crew. Wine was poured, food was offered and we were soon chatting like old friends. The place filled up quickly, the sound level sky-rocketed, everyone ate and drank and talked and ate and drank some more all evening long. It was an amazing evening of excellent food and fun conversation and everyone vowed to return.
The food that Massimo cooks comes from the heart, most often based on old family recipes, prepared with care and love. Some of the best are the simplest, using just a few choice ingredients to create a dish that is simply too good to be true! All the food that night was spectacular but one dish really stood out for us and I asked Massimo if he ever gave out recipes. He responded without hesitation, “Of course, I have no secrets!” So we exchanged email addresses and he sent me this recipe.
I tried it the very next weekend for some friends and they reacted the same way we did! They were absolutely in love with this dish. There were seconds all around (and I think even some thirds)!
The Recipe: Linguine with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
This dish is a good example of Massimo’s philosophy of “Cucina povera”; taking the simplest, most basic (and least expensive) ingredients and creating something with them that is far greater than the sum of their parts. So invite some friends or family for a fantastic meal, make some delicious pasta and eat and drink and enjoy!
- 1 lb. linguine (Massimo recommends De Cecco brand)
- 3 pints of ripe sweet cherry tomatoes or campari tomatoes, cut in half
- Half pound pecorino romano cheese, freshly grated
- 1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- seasalt and black pepper
- olive oil
In a medium-sized baking pan, evenly spread half of the garlic, generous amount of seasalt, black pepper (not too much), 1/3 of the basil, and a generous amount of olive oil.
Make a layer of tomatoes, cut side up, add the rest of the garlic, more olive oil, sea salt and pepper, more basil, plus a generous sprinkle of grated cheese.
Make another layer of tomatoes, salt, pepper and cheese, topping with more olive oil (be generous — Massimo says “don’t be afraid!”)
Add ¼ c. water, and roast in a preheated 425 F oven for 30-45 min. The tomatoes are ready when they start to brown on top and they look a little reduced. If they look too watery, cook a bit longer and reduce the temperature.
Once ready, mash the tomatoes with a fork, cook the pasta and mix everything together, adding the rest of the fresh basil, some more cheese and as much olive oil as you need! Serve with some more cheese on the side.
P.S. Here is Massimo’s roasted oyster mushroom salad on arugula, that we served as a side dish. It tasted as good as it looks!