It doesn’t take long for you to find the Stornaiuolo’s apartment — just trust your nose! Almost every Tuesday night, Amy and Vincenzo open their door for the pasta lovers in Riepe College House.
Known as the foodies’ heaven, Riepe welcomed its new faculty member this fall, Dr. Amy Stornaiulo and her husband. Born in Sicily. Chef Stornaiulo (literally!) has been cooking from the age of 15. Before coming to Penn, they owned an Italian restaurant in San Francisco , serving hundreds of tourists every day.
For one of the recent “Italian Table” nights, Vincenzo made penne with rosa sauce with freshly tossed salad. While the dinner usually starts at 7:00 pm, Vincenzo and a few students start preparing as early as 4 pm while some of the ingredients are often made the day before. Sam Kaulfmann and Xander Gottfried were at his apartment when we got there. As the “sous-chef,” Sam has helped out for every pasta night. Growing up in Jewish household, Sam has enjoyed traditional kosher food. His mom, a global traveller, also brought international cuisines back home, including Chinese and Indian. For Sam, home tastes like stuffed peppers, meatloaf, chowders…. Why does he like cooking? “I like chopping onions!” Sam smiled. The Stornaiolo’s kitchen has become his home away from home. Just the past weekend, he made a Russian apple cake for his friend’s birthday in this kitchen.
Not only for Sam, the Stornaiolo has welcomed many students from different culinary backgrounds into their home. The other day, some Chinese students living in the dorm made some Chinese food. “It was delicious.” Vincenzo said, while stirring the adding some cream into the rosa sauce.
Before coming to Penn, Amy and Vincenzo had lived in Philly for a few years. However, Vincenzo started enjoying the city after they moved to Penn. If you have ever seen his warm smile, you know he loves living with the kids.
Any complaints about Penn?
“Our kitchen is too small….” Vincenzo, a big man who’s over 6 feet tall, pointed around the half-open kitchen with a few tiny stoves, “If I could use one of those cafeteria kitchen, I would cook all day!” He laughed.
Indeed, Sam told us that he had to run around Riepe to borrow the ovens in the faculty lounges a few weeks ago when they made lasagna. It was quite an experience for him. Besides holding the heavy trays, he had to watch the timers for every oven so that each tray of lasagna get baked perfectly. They made 288 pieces of lasagna and they were gone in 30 minutes. Before Justine and I could say “wow,” Vincenzo jumped in, “We also made 400 meatballs the other day.”
So what’s more impressive, 288 pieces of lasagna or 400 meatballs?
For Vincenzo, the answer is neither. “I make much more pasta every day back in San Francisco.” He winked at us.
Quick Q & A with Chef Vincenzo Stornaiuolo
Penn Appetit (P): Favorite pasta?
Vincenzo (V): The simplest one… with sauce and garlic!
P: Have you been to the other foodie events in Riepe?
V: I have been to the espresso hours at the Rosen’s. Dean DeTurck sent us some cookies. We could never get them at cookies’ night because they are usually gone in minutes.
P: How did you meet Dr Amy Stornaiuolo?
V: San Francisco. I was a cook and her family owned the restaurant.
P: Any Italian restaurant to recommend in Philly?
V: Amis was nice.
P: Any advice for travelers to Italy?
V: Go South! Go to Sicily! You will get a more welcoming and authentic Italian experience. The food is also fantastic.
Editor: Mariann Xiong
Photographer: Justine de Jesus