Every episode is chock-full of mouthwatering regional specialties prepared by chefs all over the country.
For those wanting to follow in Stanley Tucci’s footsteps, below is an episode-by-episode guide to all the restaurants — including local hangouts and Michelin-starred establishments — the actor visited during the show’s second season.
Sardinia is the most remote region of Italy. Cut off from the Italian peninsula, this island has developed its own customs and cuisine. Eating here is like going on the culinary equivalent of an archaeological dig since so many waves of settlers throughout history have influenced the food. While stopping here, Tucci discovered two sides to this fascinating region: the coast with its seafood and a dazzling mix of cultures drawn from around the Mediterranean; and the interior — a steep, rocky landscape where locals stubbornly cling to their ancient traditions and freedoms.
Fradis Minoris gets its supply of fresh seafood daily from the surrounding waters. The restaurant’s sustainable menu earned it a coveted Michelin Green Star — the first in Sardinia. When Tucci swung by, chef Francesco Stara made fregola ai frutti di mare, a local staple. The star of the dish is the fregola, which is a North African-inspired, couscous-like pasta.
Fregola, a couscous-like dish, is a central element in Sardinian cuisine. Stanley Tucci visits the region and learns about its rich history. “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.
At Luigi Pomata, chef and owner Luigi Pomata is known as the king of tuna. Raw seafood, including tuna, takes center stage on his menu. During Tucci’s visit, Pomata cooked up local bluefin tuna with pesto in a traditional pasta dish called cassulli alla carlofortina. Much to Tucci’s surprise, Pomata prepares it by taking the fresh tuna belly and boiling it. “That’s delicious,” Tucci said after sampling the dish.
Al Forno, located in the medieval city of Alghero known as little Barcelona, is a small bakery. Tucci ordered panada — a type of Sardinian savory pie said to have received its name from empanada, a similar pastry dish thought to have originated in Spain. “Oh my God!” Tucci proclaimed. “It’s like Italy and Spain together in my mouth.”
Alghero is world famous for its lobster. It’s so good Queen Elizabeth II herself requested it for her wedding reception. “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.
Mabrouk is a former 16th-century monastery converted into a restaurant. Chef Antonietta Salaris works with the local lobster that’s known to be some of the best in the world. She makes the regionally popular lobster a la Catalana. In the US, lobster eggs are often thrown out, but Salaris adds them to the sauce for a salty sweetness. “That’s so f***ing delicious,” Tucci said.
Arimani, in the ancestral village of Battista in northern Sardinia, is a culinary school, so here you must cook your own lunch before feasting. Chef Simonetta Bazzu has devoted her life to preserving Sardinia’s traditional cuisine and ancient recipes. For Tucci, she made pane carasau — a thin, crispy bread dating back to at least 1000 BC — and a zuppa gallurese, pane carasau soaked in sheep broth, topped with heaps of cheese and wild mint and baked into the woodfire oven.
Of all the regions of Italy, Calabria holds the most meaning for Tucci. It’s his ancestral homeland and a place he had dreamed of visiting since he was a boy. “I want to get to know the region my family left behind,” Tucci said on the show. This wild, rugged region makes up the “toe” of the country’s boot-shaped peninsula. It’s known for its sprawling beaches, mountains and regional foods, including traditional salami, sweet red onions and chili peppers.
Panificio Cuti,run by baker Pina Olivetti, has been serving traditional Calabrian bread — a sourdough yeast bread called pane de cuti — since 1985. The spot is located in Marzi, which is known as the valley of wheat. When Tucci swung by the bakery, he tried pane di cuti, a 100-year-old recipe. For Tucci and his hungry parents, she also made morsello, a bread bowl filled with sausage and broccoli rabe. This portable meal was once a favorite among farmers and hunters who wanted to carry a not-so-little slice of home with them wherever they went. Today, this dish is often served at weddings and celebrations.
Tropea is famous for its red onions. They are so sweet, they can be served in pasta, preserves and ice cream. Tune in Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to watch all-new episodes of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.”
At Osteria della Cipolla Rossa(Red Onion Inn), run by Michele Pugliese and Romana Schiariti, the specialty is the unapologetically simple red onion spaghetti. The key ingredient is the region’s renowned sweet red onions, called cipolla rossa, which only grow along the small stretch of coastline surrounding the city of Tropea. The onions are so sweet that, during the episode, Tucci bit into a raw one as if it were an apple.
Il Principe di Scilla is a family-run restaurant in Scilla, Italy, that is all about the local swordfish, the most respected or prized sea creature in Calabria — and for a region surrounded by water on three sides, that’s really saying something. “It’s like prosciutto and smoked salmon had a love child,” Tucci said as he sampled the fresh raw swordfish with restaurant owner Johnny Giordano. Tucci also tried scialiatelli alla ghiotta, which is like a swordfish ragu. “It’s nothing short of incredible,” Giordano said of the pasta dish.
In the dishes at Qafiz,tucked in the Aspromonte mountains, chef Nino Rossi uses local ingredients. He prepared for Tucci the signature dessert that helped the restaurant snag a Michelin star: fire. Inspired by the idea of renewed growth after the 2021 wildfires, the aptly named dish is made of meringue flavored with charcoal, sliced apple and white chocolate foam. “It’s like a million different flavors in there,” Tucci said as he dove in for seconds.
La Collinetta, located in the mountain town of Martone, is run by farmer and chef Pino Trimboli. When Tucci visited, Trimboli made lamb in clay, an ancient Greek dish. The lamb is surrounded by wet clay before it’s baked to seal in the delicate flavors and juices. This ancient technique comes with a tradeoff: Each dish takes over four hours to cook. But Tucci said the resulting “fall off the bone” lamb was worth the wait.