Rocco DiSpirito, star of NBC's The Restaurant, filmed the reality show in his kitschy Manhattan trattoria, Rocco's (12 E. 22nd St.; 212/353-0500; dinner for two $70). There he riffs on his Italian-American heritage: eggplant parmigiana, Foosball, and Capodimonte figurines. Now that you've seen his mother, Nicolina, making meatballs and his uncle Giuseppe pouring homemade wine, T+L asked the young chef from Queens to dish about the places that inspired his most recent project. Here's what he had to say:
"To come up with our menu, my mother, my brother, and I visited Sicily, Naples, Rome, and Avellino, close to where my parents are from, in Campania. In Rome, I love Al Moro [13 Vicolo delle Bollette; 39-06/678-3495; $118], because it's like a gentlemen's club, with old-world service. You can't beat the pizza bianca at Il Forno Campo de' Fiori [22 Campo de' Fiori; 39-06/6880-6662; $2.50]. There's something about the dough that makes it delicious. Il Gastronomo [Via SS.164, Ponteromito; 39-0827/67009; $82] and Ristorante Oasis-Sapori Antichi [10 Via Provinciale; 39-0827/97021; $80] in Avellino serve the authentic Campanian dishes—almost as good as my mother's."