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Supple simplicity

Authentic italian dishes served up by dedicated chef

Authentic italian dishes served up by dedicated chef

February 26, 2003

When Michael Durazzo was looking to open a new restaurant in Hagerstown, he knew exactly who could serve simple, authentic meals with an Italian flair.

It was all about the family.

Durazzo's cousin, Carmine Schiano Moriello, had paired with the restaurateur at the Village Cafe in Smithsburg. Since May 1, the duo have brought a taste of Italy to Hub City at Al Pomodoro, Italian for "of the tomato."

"It's always consistent," Durazzo says of Moriello's cooking. "It's simple but, you know, very tasteful, and he sticks to what he knows best, Italian food. He doesn't follow trends."

In the United States since 1983, Moriello has only worked at a handful of eateries in his career. The 43-year-old, with a thick, dark mustache and an Italian accent left over from half a lifetime in Naples, Italy, prefers to stay put. It allows him to hone his craft and set a tone.

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Durazzo, who also hails from Naples, says his cousin's passion for food is reflected in his cooking, where simplicity rules and ingredients blend to form mouth-watering concoctions.

"Yeah, he's very calm and confident with his cooking," Durazzo says. "He won't even go home on a slow night because he wants to make sure he does all the cooking. He's passionate about his cooking."

On Monday, Moriello sat down with Staff Writer Kevin Clapp to talk about cooking, Italy and his recipe for Linguine "Al Pomodoro" with Shrimp, Mussels and Clams.

When did you start cooking?

I started in Italy, I was 15 years old, 15, 14.

How did you get your start?

In a restaurant.

Why cook?

Just because. I love it.

What do you love about it?

Everything.

Is there any one thing you enjoy more than another?

No. It's just, you know, I try to do everything, new recipes, new stuff.

Who did you learn from? Family?

A chef in Italy, and he taught me a lot.

What was the most important thing he taught you?

Most important, the business stuff of what we do.

Why did you choose the Linguine dish to share?

Because it's simple. It's fresh tomatoes, it's fresh ingredients. Simple.

Your cousin said you enjoy keeping things simple. Why do you prefer simple dishes?

Because, people don't want a lot of stuff. I like simple stuff. ... Some people mix all sorts of things up, and I do if people ask. ...

Do you think customers appreciate when you keep it simple?

Some people, they don't care. Some people, you know, they do.

Why don't you like to move from one place to another?

... When you stay in one place, you make your own kitchen how you like.

If you could set your kitchen up any way you'd like, how would you do it?

Just simple stuff, the grill, the conventional oven, the regular oven. ... I don't like the microwave.

How come?

To defrost, yeah... . You cook one thing (in an oven), it takes a half-hour. In microwave, it takes five minutes, 10 minutes.

What is most fun about cooking for you?

When somebody asks, 'can you make me this,' I love it. Because that's something else, different.

Do you cook at home?

I try new dishes all the time. Say it's good, I can make it at the restaurant, too. ... It's good, because I ate the first meal. I say, it's good for me, maybe not for others. ...

So it's a lot of trial and error... .

Yeah.

Do you miss Italy?

No, because I've got family over here. I went two years ago and took my kids.

To show them where you grew up... .

Where I grew up, where I was working, the restaurant I was working.

Is there anything about cooking in Italy you use here?

The grill. We had a big grill we could just throw everything on. Now we can't do that here. Now, it's pretty much the same as here.

In Northern Italy, it's the same as here, because people don't got the time, it's more busy. In the south, it's a little more slow, a little more enjoy (the food) and we're in no rush.




Chef Q&A



Al Pomodoro


1101 Opal Court,

in Hub Plaza off Eastern Boulevard,

Hagerstown

Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to close; Saturday, 4 p.m. to close. Lunch is served weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For information, call 301-739-0440




Linguine 'Al Pomodoro' with shrimp, mussels and clams



  • 4 or 5 fresh mussels

  • 6 or 7 fresh littleneck clams

  • 4 shrimp, cleaned and peeled

  • 1 clove fresh garlic, chopped

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

  • 3 to 4 plum tomatoes

  • A splash of dry white wine

  • A splash of natural seafood broth

  • Linguine pasta



In a saut pan, heat olive oil and garlic. When garlic begins to sizzle, add tomatoes, mussels, clams and shrimp. Add a splash of dry white wine and seafood broth. Cook slowly until tomatoes slowly turn into sauce.

(Note: Do not over cook shrimp. If necessary, set aside and add to pan a minute before cooking is complete.)

As mixture cooks, prepare linguine in a separate pot. When done, toss linguine with mixture and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil, if desired.

Serves 1

- Recipe from Al Pomodoro owner Michael Durazzo and chef Carmine Schiano Moriello

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