Chef du jour
Joe Flores, owner; Chef Joe Dusa; Chef Chris Rydell
Rosso Vino Wine Bar & Bistro
130 Shore Drive , Branford
Type of food prepared: Italian
Background/education of Flores: Worked at Adriana’s as bartender and managed front of the house.
Background /education of chefs: Rydell went to the Culinary Institute of America. Worked at restaurants in Williamsburg, Va., Copper Beech Inn among several others.
Dusa worked in several restaurants including Esteva, First & Last Tavern, Martin’s Riverside
1. When did the restaurant open? Flores: St. Patrick’s Day 2017
2. What made you decide to become a restaurant owner? Flores: Passion for the business
3. What is meaning of the name of the restaurant? Flores: Red wine in Italian but the words are flipped because the name Vino Rosso was taken.
4. How did your interest in food and cooking begin? Dusa: My mom and aunt spent time together cooking and it gave me the spark.
Rydell: when I was about 12 years of age, one day I asked my mom to show me how to make one of my favorite dishes that she made. It came out OK and I didn’t have to do the dishes. A light went off!
5. Who was your culinary mentor? Dusa: I’ve had the pleasure of working with the best chefs around and they have all influenced me one way or another. Rydell: Joe Wilson at The Trellis, Williamsburg, Va., the head assistant chef, taught me a lot of techniques, science and how to get it done in a very busy environment.
6. What did you do before opening up Rosso Vino? Flores: I Worked at Adriana’s restaurant in New Haven for about 10 years.
7. What is your secret in keeping customers coming back? Flores: Consistency always and the ability to put out quality food.
8. What do you feel is the next big trend in dining? Dusa: Going back to the basics — home cooking, classic dishes. Rydell: Chefs have done all the fusion we can do in the last 20 years. What’s old is new. And finding a way to take a family recipe from eras long gone and create them in a modern way to still remind them of grandma.
9. What’s the most memorable meal you have ever eaten and where was it and who was there? Dusa: simple is best — clam strips at Johnny Ad’s in Old Saybrook. Rydell: I was fortunate enough to dine at Alain Ducasse in NYC with my executive chef, pastry chef and her husband. We were all staff at the Copper Beech Inn.
10. What’s the most memorable meal you have ever prepared? Dusa: The first meal I ever made for my wife, steak au poivre. Rydell: I was very fortunate to be a part of the team from The Trellis, producing a dinner at the James Beard House.
11. Is there anything else you can share about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others who would like to open a restaurant? Flores: Never give up and follow your passion
12. What are three tips for running a successful restaurant? Flores: Quality, consistency and passion.
13. What are your future plans for Rosso Vino? Flores: Keep doing what we’re doing.
14. When someone cooks for you do they feel pressured to cook you something fancy because you are a chef? Dusa: They want to impress me but I love all food, from grilled cheese to Foie Gras.
15. Besides your own restaurant what are some of your favorites? Joe: Adriana’s, Pho Ketkeo, Bistro Mediterranean, Kampai.
16. What do you like to cook at home at home? Dusa: Hamburgers, chicken and sauces. Rydell: Egg sandwiches and simple foods.
17. What do you want your restaurant to be known for? (What will people remember your restaurant for and return to it for?) Flores: We are welcoming and appreciative for their business. Great food.
18. There are a lot of restaurants in the area. Why should a prospective diner choose yours? Flores: For our quality and consistency.
19. What dish is your signature dish? Dusa: Eggplant parmesan, I make it with love! Rydell: A dish that mixes fruit into a savory dish.
20. What do you think when you hear someone say, “I think owning a restaurant looks like fun.” Flores: I think they don’t know how much work goes into it.
21. What five words describe your restaurant? Joe: Creative, consistent, clean, quaint, welcoming.
22. What do you remember from the opening night at the restaurant? Flores: A couple of hours before opening night, we lit the oven and a fire started because the packaging material was left inside the oven. We almost were not able to open.
23. In a nutshell, what is your philosophy on food and dining? Dusa: Sit back and relax and let us take care of you. Rydell: If it taste good, it’s good for you.
24. Where do you go to relax? Dusa: My front porch. Rydell: Watch old movies at home. Flores: Work.
25. What did you have for dinner last night and did you cook it yourself? Dusa: Calzone, ordered out. Rydell: Five Guys bacon cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake.
26. My cabinet has room for only three condiments or spices. What should they be? Dusa: Salt, pepper, garlic powder. Rydell: Old Bay, Montreal steak seasoning, dried basil.
27. Surely you are inundated with compliments on your cooking. What’s the most memorable and from whom, if you remember? Dusa: I cooked chicken parmesan on the Rachael Ray show with my wife. Rydell: My very first job as a cook was at the Whitney museum in NYC, Mark Kostabi and Yoko Ono had lunch in the cafeteria and I made an Irish omelet for both of them and they ordered another.
28. My bookshelf has room for only a few cookbooks. What should they be? Rydell: “Larousse Gastronomique,” “On food and Cooking,” “The Joy of Cooking.” Dusa: “On Cooking,” “The Joy of Cooking.”
29. Imagine you had to prepare a meal for an old-school culinary master, like Julia Child or Jacques Pepin. What would you prepare? Dusa: For Julia Child it would be beef bourguignon. Rydell: Cassoulet andaluz.
30. When you are not cooking and running the kitchen, you have fun by? Dusa: Swimming and playing with my pups. Rydell: Watching old movies, reading, fishing, hanging out with my son.
31. When you are not running the restaurant, you have fun by? Flores: Spending time with my kids.
32. What was your favorite food as a child? Dusa: Hot dogs. Rydell: My mom’s tomato and red onion salad.
33. Which celebrity chef do you think you resemble most and why? Dusa: People say I look like Mario Batali, we’re twins.
34. What is your favorite ingredient? Dusa: Spicy peppers. Rydell: Love.
35. What’s always in your refrigerator at home? Dusa: Tomato, cheese and garlic. Rydell: Eggs, milk, butter, cheese.
36. What do you like for a quick meal out? Dusa: Burgers. Rydell: Five Guys burgers.
37. What inspires you to get up and go to work every day? Dusa: My wife. Rydell: Sometimes Joe will pick up something unusual when shopping and challenges me by service time to create a dish. Joe: My family.
38. What would you do if you weren’t a chef? Dusa: Landscape artist. Rydell: Artist or at the very least a culinary instructor.
39. What is the biggest challenge in the restaurant business? Flores: Making everyone happy.
40. What cooking tricks did your mother, grandmother or other food mentor teach you? Dusa: Always cook with love.
41. What is your favorite kitchen tool? Dusa: My knife and tongs. Rydell: Kitchen knife.
42. What dish or ingredient will we never see you eating? Dusa: Bugs. Rydell: Brains or live baby octopus.
43. What is your guilty pleasure food? Dusa: Cookies. Rydell: Chubby Hubby ice cream.
44. What is your favorite food city to visit? Dusa: Boston. Rydell: Charleston, S.C. Flores: Los Angeles.
45. When you just want to prepare something simple, quick and delicious, what would you make? Dusa: Risotto.
46. Rapid fire: Ketchup or mustard? Dusa: Ketchup. Rydell: Mustard.
Chocolate or vanilla? Both: Chocolate.
Coffee or tea? Dusa and Rydell: Coffee.
Burger or hot dog? Dusa and Rydell: Burger.
47. What is the restaurant’s signature dish? Dusa and Rydell: Paccheri with Bolognese sauce.
48. If you were giving a young person interested in a career like yours, some advice would be? Dusa: Run! Just kidding, get ready to work and put your whole life and soul into it. Rydell: You are going to work nights, weekends and holidays. You will always have a job and never go hungry.
49. What recipe from your menu will you be making today to share with the readers? These are two of our most popular dishes.
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a sauté pan. Place scallops in pan and sear each side, and sprinkle salt and pepper on each side. When cooked to your liking set aside. In another sauté pan, put 2 teaspoons of olive oil in pan and heat. Add garlic, shallots butter and capers. Cook for 2 minutes, then add flour, white wine, lemon juice and chicken stock. Cook two minutes or until liquid reduces a bit.
To plate, place mashed potatoes in center of plate, then put spinach on potatoes and then the scallops on top. Pour the sauce on top. Makes one serving.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add garlic, shallots, cherry peppers, parsley, and scallions. Add white wine to deglaze pan and then add mussels. Cover pan and cook until mussels open, about 2 minutes. Add butter and allow to melt and, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional chopped scallions, if desired. Serve with crostini. Makes one serving.
Consiglio’s Mystery Dinner Party: “Sour Grapes” Sept. 20, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.), Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a 3-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. When the matriarch of a winery dynasty dies, the will is read. The folks mentioned are going to be surprised when they hear who gets what! Dress in purple to compete for a prize. https://bit.ly/32gXryX
Worth Tasting, culinary walking tour of downtown New Haven, Sept. 21, 10:45 a.m., downtown New Haven, reservations required, 203-415-3519, 203-777-8550, $65. Enjoy tasty samplings from several of New Haven’s favorites. You won’t be hungry after this tour. I will lead this one. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2FjiwMP.
Ok2berfest Sept. 21-22, noon to 6:30 p.m., Two Roads Brewing Co., 1700 Stratford Ave., Stratford; $25 per day advance admission includes commemorative stein and one beer. Features German food and music, games and German-style beers. Beer tickets are $6 apiece, purchased with cash or credit (limit of four tickets). $15 per day for designated driver ticket. Must be 21-plus; no minors or animals are permitted. Valid ID required; 203-335-2010. Tickets and info at https://bit.ly/2khQ3SV.
Borough Brew Fest, Sept. 21, 5 p.m., Naugatuck’s Linden Park (155 N. Main St.), $50, VIP tickets includes early admission at 4 p.m. and a ticket to the event’s pig roast; $35 general admission, $15 designated drivers. Benefits the Naugatuck Police Union’s “Don’t Drink & Drive, We Will Pay For Your Ride” campaign. Beers from 50-plus breweries, wine tastings, food from trucks and local restaurants available for sale, live music. Tickets at beerfests.com.
Connecticut Brew Cup, presented by North Haven Professional Firefighter’s Association Sept. 28, noon, North Haven Fairgrounds, 290 Washington Ave.; $30 general admission, $55 VIP, $5 designated driver. Proceeds benefit Muscular Dystrophy Association. This statewide contest pits Connecticut breweries against each other in a friendly tasting competition. Food trucks will be selling food; live music and games. Info and tickets at ctbrewcup.com.
Consiglio’s demonstration cooking class: Oct. 3 or 17, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $75 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Menu: Portobello with Gorgonzola, Sun Dried Tomato and Pine Nuts, Radicchio, Fennel and Olive Panzanella, Veal Piccata, Limoncello Tiramisu. https://bit.ly/2Nd0xAg.