Up until four years ago the rather splendid all singing, all dancing and Wellington suburb of Miramar was known only as the heart of the New Zealand film industry. Artisan producers moved in, new restaurants popped, making Miramar a firm favourite of folks on the hunt for fine ingredients and a few seriously good eateries. Roberto Giorgioni, proprietor of Bongusto Pasta and Merkato Fresh Cafe and Deli in Miramar traveled to New Zealand from Rome nearly 20 years ago.
After working in the hospitality industry for nearly two decades, four years ago Roberto decided to make the leap and set up his own company. He wanted to recreate his Italian Nonna’s traditional pasta and pasta sauce recipes and bring them to the people of New Zealand. He set out on his mission and imported a very expensive pasta machine from Italy and set to work on his project.
At his production kitchen in the heart of Miramar, Roberto’s team of young Italian chefs create pasta and sauces of several different varieties that he sells at the cafe and through Moore Wilson.
Roberto also makes special orders of pasta for some of the best chefs in Wellington. With his fancy pasta maker he is able to create fabulous and intricate extruded pasta shapes which he supplies directly to chefs. The cafe is a vibrant place and has become a favourite haunt of Weta Workshop employees and ridiculously good looking Italians who flock from all over the Wellington region to dine on comforting bowls of pasta and delicious slices of roman pizza.
Roberto’s handmade ravioli is outstanding. With combinations like pumpkin, amaretti and ricotta which are made daily, those in the know, know that Bongusto is by far the best fresh pasta available in Wellington, possibly New Zealand!
When I asked Roberto what his favourite pasta dish was he replied “Spaghetti all’Amatriciana”.
As with many Italian dishes this recipe isn’t overloaded with a mountain of unnecessary ingredients. Keeping it simple allows each ingredients to sing. A deceptively simple recipe that tastes amazing. The triumph of this dish lies in the cooking and technique not the abundance of ingredients.
This dish Originating from the town of Amatrice , the Amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino cheese, and tomato. It was created as variation of Gricia sauce on late 18th century. While tomato- less gricia is still prepared in central Italy, it is the tomato-enriched amatriciana that is better known throughout Italy and exported everywhere.
The first written record of Amatriciana can be found in the 1790 cookbook ‘L’Apicio Moderno’ by the Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. While in Amatrice the dish is prepared with spaghetti, the use of bucatini has become extremely common in Rome, and is now prevalent. Other types of dry pasta, particularly rigatoni, are also used.
Ingredients - serves 4 400g fresh spaghetti or linguini
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
100g guanciale* or bacon, chopped 1 small red chili, chopped
50ml white wine 350g can diced tomatoes 75g Pecorino cheese, grated Ground pepper 10 – 15 basil leaves, sliced thinly
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and chili. Fry, stirring occasionally, for four minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced. Take the bacon and chili out of the pan, put into a small bowl and set aside for later. Add tomato to the pan and reduce heat to low.
Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly.
Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook fresh spaghetti/linguini for two to three minutes.
When the spaghetti/linguini is ready, add it to the saucepan with the tomato sauce.
Add the bacon, pepper and pecorino and stir gently to combine.
Serve with a little more pecorino grated on to, a chiffonade of basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Buon appetite!