Cristian Pietoso and his dad, Nicola, graduated from the same school -- the Culinary Institute of Florence (Italy) -- about 30 years apart. So it wasn't much of a stretch when he agreed to come to America and take over the kitchen of his father's eponymous restaurant.
With his father's blessing, Cristian slowly updated the well-respected restaurant's menu, infusing its classic cuisine with a more modern sensibility. "Now we change the menu four times a year to focus on seasonal ingredients," he says. "So the current menu has lots of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers." But there is one constant: the Bolognese meat sauce that his father still makes fresh every other day. (Michael Schiaparelli)
CityBeat: Where did you have your last great meal, and what was it?
Cristian Pietoso: Hugo. We had the Grand Chef Tasting menu that included monkfish with parsnip purée, char-grilled asparagus with coriander vinaigrette and crispy pork belly with Pecorino fondue and Belgian endive. It was really excellent. But that's just the most recent; there are so many great places to eat in Cincinnati.
CB: What do you consider your signature dish?
CP: Everything changes here on a regular basis, but I think it's the pasta. You can only find this pasta at Nicola's. We have one guy who works the pasta machine all day, putting out fresh ravioli, gnocchi, gnudi. ... I would say that's our signature.
Nicola's Ristorante Italiano, 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200