Chef Mauro Molino
By Chester Simpson
Chef Mauro Molino
Lena’s Wood-Fired pizza & Tap
401 E. Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22301
Mauro Molino, brings 22 plus years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry to his new role as executive chef of Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap in Alexandria, Virginia.
Molino served as executive chef of Il Posto Restaurant, Ospedale Molinette, and Eataly Torino Lingotto, before relocating to the nation’s capital in October 2010. Over the past five years, Molino has worked at several of Washington’s top establishments including Rustico Restaurant & Bar, The Hamilton, T.J Stones and Lia’s under Chef/Owner Geoff Tracy where he most recently cooked before being named executive chef of Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap.
When did you first become interested in cooking? Why did you decide to pursue a culinary career?
I became a chef because I was raised in Italy in a family where my grandmother cooked from morning till night. When I was young, 4 or 5 years old, I stayed with her on the weekends and all summer long. She had a large garden and thus all her own fresh produce. I always helped her in the kitchen and this inspired my excitement for cooking.
Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career?
I am my own greatest inspiration. True creativity requires you compete with yourself and grow within.
What dish on the menu are you most curious to see how it’s received?
I am curious to see how my gnocchi with mushroom ragu will be received by the clientele. Gnocchi are eaten as a first course, as an alternative to soups or pasta. Nobody has a recipe like this!
What do you do to ensure the quality of the food going out to customers?
I always use fresh produce to ensure that my product is of the highest quality. We stresses the importance of fresh ingredients by ordering day by day and don’t stock anything in the walk in cooler. It’s very important to know the history of food and the cultural, economic, environmental, and sociological impacts of food. Legend has it that “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, was created in 1889 to honour Queen Margherita of Italy, by a famous pizza maker in Naples, Raffaele Esposito. His original recipe for margherita pizza featured the colors of the Italian flag basil (green), tomatoes (red) and mozzarella (white).
If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it, be?
If any chef in the world would prepare me a meal, I would want it to be something I have never tried before. French Chef, Paul Bocuse, would be that chef. He is famous for the high quality of his restaurants, and known for introducing a lighter style of cooking. His style emphasizes lightly cooked vegetables, sparing use of dressings and sauces made from materials low in fats, and with a simple presentation.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
All FOOD is my guilty pleasure……Well, it’s really Meat Balls!
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