How Nonna’s Recipes Turned A Little Italian Kitchen Into A Beloved NYC Restaurant


Philip Guardione, Owner and Head Chef of Piccola Cucina grew up in a family that cooked, a lot. Like so many Italians, especially southern Italians, Sundays were religion to eat and cook together. “My grandmother would come and give all the children little jobs to help prepare the meal—in part to not get in trouble,” says Guardione.

His Aunt and Grandmother would squabble going back and forth in the kitchen over who made the best parmigiana di melanzane or sauce. “They would fight over who would make the better sauce. Or the best lasagna, there was this rivalry every Sunday, a sweet competition. And so I grew up surrounded by this.” He still doesn’t say who made the best sauce, to maintain diplomacy.

“I think it was those times together, watching them cook, tasting what they made, being part of that experience, that inspired me to become a chef myself,” he says.

At an early age, Guardione, was cooking professionally, his father had pushed him and his brothers to go abroad working in the top gourmet kitchens across Europe, “by the time I was in New York City in 2007, I had already worked in Switzerland, Paris, Milano both as a personal chef but also as the head chef in large hotels and restaurants. So I arrived in New York with a portfolio.”

Guardione was only supposed to come to New York City for a visit, “but the energy and vitality of the people bewitched me.” He stayed and a rare opportunity presented itself to open a restaurant with a partnership in New York, he later bought out the partner, and Piccola Cucina was born.


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