An Italian Chef Comes to Southold

Marco Pellegrini, executive chef at the authentic Italian restaurant Caci in Southold. (Photo by Randee Daddona via Long Island Press and Northforker)

Marco Pellegrini, executive chef at the authentic Italian restaurant Caci in Southold. (Photo by Randee Daddona via Long Island Press and Northforker)

Chef Marco Pellegrini of Italy ended up in Southold on Long Island by chance.

The executive chef at Caci North Fork, a restaurant that specializes in authentic Italian cuisine, tells Long Island Wine Press’s Rachel Young, that while working at Castello di Reschio, near Perugia, Italy, in 2012, he met tourists Anthony and Daniele Cacioppo of Southold. The Cacioppos told Pellegrini about their desire to open an authentic Italian restaurant on the North Fork and the executive chef told the couple about his own desire to move to the U.S.

The following year, after submitting 40 letters of recommendations, Pellegrini, with O-1 visa – which is given to “Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement” – in hand, arrived on the North Fork with his family.

Pellegrini has found that creating authentic Italian dishes sometimes means turning to ingredients from the his native continent.

While cooking at Caci has been a seamless transition for Pellegrini, the lack of instant access to the finest European foods has been a challenge.

“In Italy, you easily can find great ingredients. Here, it’s 10 times more complicated,” he said. There are some American ingredients he says he prefers not to use, like parmigiano-reggiano.

Happily, FedEx picks up the slack when Pellegrini’s favorite local farms, including Mar-Gene, 8 Hands, Breeze Hill and Crescent Duck, cannot. He regularly orders imported chocolate, cheese, olive oil and fresh truffles, incorporating the latter into dishes like buffalo milk ricotta ravioli with black summer truffle sauce.

What are some example dishes on the menu at Caci?

At Caci North Fork menus are seasonal, but certain customer favorites, like the 32-ounce grilled Fiorentina steak, calamari skewers with seasoned breadcrumbs, and homemade tiramisu with hazelnut praline are mainstays.

Read the full profile on Pellegrini at Northforker, which republished the story from Long Island Wine Press.

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