When it comes to cooking pasta, the Mangano clan makes it a family affair.
Italian cooking is in Steve Mangano’s blood—literally. His family originally hails from Sicily, and the tradition of pasta making has been passed down from grandmother to mother, down to Mangano. Today, the entrepreneur and founder of the food review app CurEat, often makes fresh pasta with his two children, 11-year-old Adrian and 8-year-old Audrey.
“I grew up making pasta with my mother and that now extends to both my kids,” says Mangano. “All kids love to roll out dough, and it is a great way to spend a rainy morning or keep kids away from their media devices.”
The kids are eager sous chefs and crowd around Mangano as he places the dough between the two rollers of the pasta machine. As he turns the crank, Audrey expertly pulls the flattened dough while older brother Adrian watches.
“I can’t remember when I started making pasta,” says Adrian, who loves getting dirty in the pasta-making process. “I’ve done it all my life.”
Mangano prefers a traditional hand-cranked pasta maker, rather than an automated one. It gives him time to spend with his kids and turns the process into a bonding and contemplative experience.
“He’ll wake up in the morning and just start making pasta,” says Adrian. His father chuckles and nods in agreement. For Mangano, it’s almost like a form of meditation.
“It gives me time to think,” he says. “What’s better than rolling dough?”
The beauty of transforming simple ingredients—flour and eggs—into a robust and tasty dish is almost magical, and the kids seem to intuitively feel it. Food is important in this household, and Mangano has inspired his children to experiment in the kitchen. Adrian says he and his friends often try to create a new dish with whatever ingredients he can find in the refrigerator. His mother serves as the taste tester.
Mangano, however, shares his passion for food with more than his family. With a culinary and hospitality background—he was one of the driving forces behind Pullen Place Cafe at Pullen Park—his love of food and appreciation of chefs has led the entrepreneur to create an innovative restaurant review app—one that isn’t driven by negative reviews or “pay for play” advertising.
CurEat, which launched last January, empowers users to create and share their own favorite dining lists while also highlighting recommendations made by “CurEaters,” an army of food and beverage professionals and tastemakers. You’ll find Ashley Christensen’s favorite eats in Nashville and Charleston, Fullsteam Brewery’s Sean Lilly Wilson’s go-to cafes, and Garland’s Cheetie Kumar’s beloved takeout spots.
An avid traveler and passionate diner, Mangano loves finding inspiration through foreign cookbooks (he collects them) and chance encounters in restaurants. In fact, he stumbled upon his son’s favorite dish by accident.
“My wife and I were walking in midtown [Manhattan] with Adrian and it started to pour,” he says. “We ducked into a small Italian restaurant mostly to avoid the rain but also to grab a bite. We saw this dish on the menu and ordered it and it has been a favorite since.”
The dish is a type of deconstructed Carbonara pasta with a fried egg on top. “I like that the yolk spreads everywhere,” says Adrian. The rustic pasta has become a favorite in the household, with Adrian adept at cooking it on the stove. Mangano notes that you can change out the ingredients with pantry staples.
“After you make it once, you can riff off it and easily adjust based on your tastes and what’s on hand or change seasonally by swapping out the artichoke hearts for fresh corn off the cob, zucchini, butternut squash, okra,” he says. “When we travel, this is the dish we make when we come home.”
But one must-have ingredient according to Adrian—capers.
“We were leaving Whole Foods and Adrian asks me, “Do we have capers at home?’” laughs Mangano. “I thought, ‘I know you’re definitely my son!’”