7 Dishes Inspired By Mom

By Scott Kearnan  |  May 7, 2014

Mother's Day is coming up, and we've already done the legwork of compiling some of the best bets for reservations. (Miss it? Check out our suggestions here.) But at the end of the day, we know that for most of us, no cooking compares to mom's own. So we asked some local chefs to tell us which plates on their menus were inspired by their mom's recipes, and the results are pretty tasty. Check them out.  

  • Mesquite Tortellini at Alden & Harlow

    Chef Michael Scelfo has described the menu at his new Harvard Square American as being the type of fare that he'd cook for his own family. So it's no surprise that one menu item, the mesquite tortellini, is based on a dish cooked for him - by his mother, who cooked it up about twice a week when Scelfo was growing up. The slight smokiness is complemented by bianco sardo (a rustic sheep's milk cheese) and slight hint of colatura, an Italian fish sauce that is the essence of Mediterranean anchovies. 

    40 Brattle St., Cambridge; 617-864-2100

  • Rosetta's Famous Meatballs at Strega Waterfront

    These meatballs are created from the same recipe used by restaurateur Nick Varano's mother. (Can you guess her name?) Made of tender veal and beef, parmesan cheese, mushrooms and spices, they're served in "Strega sauce" and accompanied with homemade ricotta. You can also find them at Varano's Nico Ristorante

    1 Marina Park Dr.; 617-345-3992 

  • Straciatella at Prezza

    Chef Anthony Caturano is very close to his grandmother Elena; in fact, he named his North End restaurant Prezza after the town in Italy where she was born. While growing up in Revere, Caturano lived on the same street as his grandmother, so "Gravy Sundays" (which inspired his weekly special menu of the same name) is when he would learn Elena's rustic "old world" recipes. Among them, this escarole soup with meatballs, white beans, pecorino cheese and egg. 

    24 Fleet St.; 617-227-1577

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Pie at Estelle's Southern Cuisine

    Chef Brian Poe's Southern restaurant was inspired in part by his earliest introduction to cooking: He grew up in Macon, Georgia and spent weekends at his grandmother's in Haleyville, Alabama, where he'd watch her cook massive feasts of Southern classics for after-church gatherings. This dessert, though, is inspired by recipes from two other women: Poe's mother and aunt. His mother's chocolate peanut butter pie is legendary, and so is his aunt's banana pudding pie. He combined the best of both worlds for this hybrid treat.  

    782 Tremont St.; 857-250-2999

  • Al Sugo Genovese at Dante 

    Chef Dante de Magistris' gnocchi recipe is a closely guarded secret that was handed down to him by his nonna - and dates back many more generations. It's a constant on his menus at Dante and Il Casale, and will be featured on his Mother's Day prix fixe menu in Al Sugo Genovese, with braised veal, carrots, celery and spring onion. 

    40 Edwin H Land Blvd.; 617-497-4200

  • Cozze at Nebo

    Everyone knows that Nebo is something of a family affair; after all, its owners are sisters Carla and Christine Pallotta. But their mother also played a special role in its creation. Eight years ago, just before doors opened at Nebo, the sisters called dear old mom into the kitchen to whip up her famous recipes. Since she measures nothing, the sisters would take the ingredients out of her hand (a handful of flour, a pinch of salt, etc.), measure them, and write the recipe. Thus was born the entire Nebo menu, all the result of dear old mom's best dishes. Among our favorites is the cozze: skillet roasted mussels in lemon mascarpone cream with fennel and bruschetta. 

    520 Atlantic Ave.; 617-723-6326

  • Spring peas, favas & proscuitto at Bistro du Midi

    What's better than a recipe inspired by mom? Try one inspired by three momsChef Robert Sisca was inspired by his mother, grandmother and mother-in-law for this side dish; each has a variation, so he took cues from each to create his own. 

    272 Boylston St; 617-426-7878