The Interview: Giada De Laurentiis

The Italian-born chef on her favorite haunts.

By Michele Shapiro

You returned to Rome, your birthplace, to research your latest cookbook, Giada’s Italy. What was that trip like?

I had an unforgettable experience exploring the city with [my 10-year-old daughter] Jade and my mom. One of my favorite stops was Antico Forno Roscioli, a bakery open since 1824 that remains the best place in town to pick up a quick slice or two of piping hot Roman-style pizza. And Fatamorgana, which Jade and I decided has the best gelato in Rome. They have creative flavors, like pink grapefruit with horseradish.

Tell us about a recipe from your book.

One extra-special dish is the Penne With Parmesan Pomodoro. It transports me back to all the memories and aromas of watching my Nonno cook.

If you could bring a suitcase of foods, spices and condiments from Italy, what would it contain?

Dried oregano that comes on the branch. I’d also bring back the water and flour to make pizza and pasta like they do in Italy…and, of course, gelato!

What’s the best souvenir you’ve ever bought?

I love to collect vintage spoons and forks of all sizes. In Rome, I discovered a tiny shop filled with antique ones. There’s also a shop near my mom’s place in Rome that sells little square marble pieces with Italian sayings on them. They’re great gifts for friends and family.

How do you avoid jet lag?

As soon as I get on the plane, I set my watch to the time zone at my destination and pretend it’s already that time—I’ll stay awake during an entire cross-country flight if it will be light when I land!

Where in America have you eaten some of the greatest Italian food (other than at home)?

In Los Angeles, at Capo and Sotto; in New York City, at I Sodi, PizzArte, Esca, Il Gattopardo, and Morandi; and in Arizona, at Pizzeria Bianco.

  • Photo reprinted from Giada’s Italy. Copyright © 2018 by GDL Foods Inc. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Fall 2018