Franco Barone

il Barone Ristorante
Wild boar wellington

CA-73 and merge onto Bristol. Turn left on Birch, right on Corinthian and we arrive. Where the heck are we anyways… Newport? Oh, there it is. See the sign, knucklehead? I say to myself. Bright red script, Il Barone Ristorante. What an interesting place to set up shop.

We enter into an elegant dining room and pass a simple but stocked spirits area. A peaceful feeling comes over me as I’m hugged and greeted by Donatella, Franco’s wife, then the creator of art himself, Franco! Soft paint with art on the walls, white linens under glasses stuffed with napkins standing at attention before us. Do I have to behave, Dona? No Bob, you’re at home. Now that’s cool.

When did you know that food had power? Food had power when people started to enjoy it, when they come in and say “can I have what I had last week?” That’s when I started to understand that you can really make people happy and keep coming back. That’s a power.
What are your favorite tools in the kitchen? Well, of course you have to have a sharp knife, but my favorite tool is the spatula. I work a lot with the grill. I cook the fish and the meat, so for me the spatula is the special tool for me. When the guy comes in to sharpen the knives I have him sharpen it too.
When did food capture you? It still captures me. It started a long time ago. I really got into food when I met my wife. Her mom and family are into food, so it’s like a switch [Franco snaps his fingers] I thought… I can be good. Still my mother-in-law inspires me. She cooks the old way. So after going home I come to the kitchen here and change a few things to make it my way. Does your mother ever come in and say, ‘this tastes like my…’ Of course, yes, she knows a lot of them. Many of my recipes are based on what she has done. For example the ravioli and the sausage are her recipes.
Do you take risks in your cooking? Risks as in trying new things? Yes I do, but I try it myself first and if it passes the test or my wife’s and if we think it’s good, we go for it. There is a lot of stuff I do that way. If you don’t take a risk, you are never going to do anything exciting for people. People like excitement. This dish we’re making today was a risk. I thought about my beef wellington and why shouldn’t I change the beef to wild boar tenderloin and make it the Italian way? It really, really turned out to be a good thing. The risk paid off.
Who do you most admire in the world of cooking today? As far as chefs? Mario Batali, besides my mother-in-law. I think he’s a true chef. He can talk about food because he has a true knowledge, he’s been there. He goes back to Italy and he does his research.
Who would you most like to cook for and why? I would like to cook for Ramsay, because he makes fun of everybody’s food [laughing out loud]. I know it’s a show, but he makes it look so bad, I would just like to see what he says when a really good chef cooks for him. Who knows, maybe I won’t be that good. And I would like to cook lasagna, because he told an Italian chef that he was gonna show him how to do it.
Who is the most important person in your kitchen? My sous chef, Enrique. I have been working with him for 20 years.
Where do you go on a night out? I go home [laughing]. When we do go out for a nice evening we go to The Winery. They are a friend of ours, they make us feel comfortable, the food is good and all the people are nice.
How do you approach cooking and creating new recipes? You look at the weather, really. You look at the weather, you look at what you have and what you can get and you take it from there. Sometimes I sit at the computer at night to see what’s in season. I see what’s available for fish, what can I do for meat, that’s one way I decide. When I order from Europe, every week I order a shipment from Italy or from France or from wherever… that is how I decide to cook.

the recipe:

Wild boar wellington

Hey folks. We shot Franco before we began requiring chefs to pick a recipe they're OK with sharing... Of course he would pick something top secret!

Look through the photos again if you want to make it, that should get you about 80% of the way there. You can wing the last 20...

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