Skyscrapers, Times Square, hamburgers and French fries. But not only, also a lot of Sicily! Sicilian Secrets went to the United States and met Picciotto NYC. Alessandro Ancona, from Castellammare del Golfo, brought the specialties of his land to the Big Apple. A tasty interview between New York and Southern Italy.
Q: Alessandro, how did you decide to move to NY?
A: From Sicily to New York! The U.S.A. have always represented the myth of the so-called land of opportunity, you leave the village and arrive in the Big Apple with your dreams and hopes. Only destiny knows if they will become true or not, but at the beginning you have a lot of grit and enthusiasm. I arrived here in 1998 and nowadays, in my own small way, I am pretty popular thanks to Picciotto NYC.
Q: Picciotto NYC: how did you have the idea to reproduce the typical Sicilian cart with your food truck and go around the city with all Sicilian flavors?
R: I have worked in the food industry for a long time: I can cook, am a pizza chef. Moreover, I am also a good waiter and barman. But after many years, I was tired to be employed in a restaurant and felt like in prison. On the contrary, the food truck gives me the opportunity to be around the streets, meet people. I drive in the city and feel free because in the end, it is a small restaurant with four wheels.
Q: 100% Sicilian, what’s the main difference between you and the other restaurants that make Italian food in New York?
A: For sure, compared to the other Italian-Americans in Little Italy or other areas of the city, Picciotto NYC has the great advantage of being born and grown up in Sicily. I know our products, our culture. Italian-Americans try to copy and generally are not aware of the real taste of our typical dishes. Many Americans don’t know what they eat, some of them think that chicken parmigiana is an Italian specialty! Sometimes I need to adapt what I make to local preferences, business is important and even those clients who ask for fettucine Alfredo or Caesar Salad must be satisfied.
Q: Does your being Sicilian influence your creativity and recipes?
A: A lot. They perfectly represent myself, what I know and my passion. This is the strengh of Picciotto NYC.
Q: What do you mainly miss of Sicily and what would you never give up of New York?
A: I miss the human warmth of Sicily, the sense of family that here doesn’t exist. In New York people are pretty individualist, in Southern Italy it’s the opposite. At the same time, I love NY and would never give up the opportunity to do almost whatever I want, no limits. You can try to make your dreams true and if you are smart and really motivated, you can succeed!
D: Thanks to Picciotto NYC you’re always around the city, what’s your favorite spot in the Big Apple?
A: Until a few months ago I really liked parking my food truck in Washington Square – now it’s forbidden because of a construction site -. It’s a spot that I love, I feel almost in Europe, almost home. You can be near a park and at least for a few hours forget about the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
If you want to discover the adventures of Picciotto NYC and, once you are in New York, meet Alessandro Ancona and taste his creations, follow his Facebook page and taste Sicilian flavors proposed across the ocean.