A nice helping of freshly made linguine twirls in a pool of light, sweet tomato broth. Mussels, clams, scallops, sumptuous shrimp and calamari peak out from the heap. The bright sauce is packed with pure tomato flavor and flecked with herbs. The bread is best when dunked in the broth to bring out classic Italian flavors of garlic and olive oil.
Alberto Candivi has been serving this dish, linguini pescatore, since his restaurant first opened in 2001. Il Granaio, Mount Vernon’s treasured Italian eatery, booms with classic dishes Candivi grew up eating in his hometown, S. Colombano al Lambro outside Milan. After cooking in Italy and Scotland, he moved to California in 1984 to oversee the opening of Giorgio Armani’s first restaurant venture — yes, the Armani of the fashion world.
After realizing he would prefer to work for himself, Candivi was set on opening a restaurant of his own. He was attracted to Mount Vernon for its similarity to his hometown in Italy. The high ceilings, beautiful dark wood flooring and dim lights will make you want to curl up with a glass of wine and perhaps a bowl of Coho salmon ravioli in a silky shrimp cream sauce.
Candivi’s wife, Jennifer Candivi, plays a huge role at the restaurant. She hand-picks most of the wines and makes many of the desserts including the gelato and sorbet. Candivi said he used to spend hundreds of dollars on store-bought gelato, but now his wife makes it in-house with a machine they bought from Italy.
“Gelato and pasta machines were my best investments,” he said.
Most of what is served is made completely from scratch including all of the pasta variations. Though Candivi admits owning a restaurant is a ton of work, he enjoys the independence of making his own decisions about his career.
“I’m here all the time,” he said. “When you own a restaurant, you are married to it.”
Candivi reminisces about walking around in Italy with a pile of wild boar prosciutto in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.
“When people come to my restaurant, I want them to have a great experience, not just a great meal.”
Visit Il Granaio for a casual lunch or romantic dinner. You’ll see Candivi himself in the open kitchen cooking the pasta to a perfect al dente before swirling it in one of his many balanced, simple sauces. Between bites, you’ll swoon over the flavors lingering on your tongue and the words “Molto bene” will come to your lips — after all, this bite was very good.
100 E. Montgomery St.