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A Conversation with Chef Francesco d’Amuri of L’Orcio

In New Haven, food is our culture and, here, the response to “where should we eat?” will never be “I don’t know”. New Haven continues to stand as a mecca for all things dining. With new restaurants moving in and veteran spots stacking up anniversaries, the Elm City streets are culinary treasure troves. One of our gastronomic gems, L’Orcio, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In this anniversary spotlight, learn how Chef and owner Francesco d’Amuri rose from humble beginnings as a dishwasher to one of New England’s top chefs. 

A child of farmers, Chef Francesco d’Amuri was raised on an appreciation for food made with love and quality ingredients. His love story with food began on the Northern coast of Italy, an influence which can be seen, felt, and tasted in all of the dishes at L’Orcio.

“I began working in Rimini as a dishwasher in a hotel after being there on vacation and deciding to stay longer, so I asked the hotel if they were hiring. The owners gave me the opportunity to work in the front and back of the house, but I finally settled in the kitchen,” says Francesco. “I continued to work for that same family for a few seasons across Rome and Grosseto. From there, I went on to work as a Chef in the military in Florence. After a year of service, I settled in Florence and began working with the Ciabatti family and at the Hotel Baglione.”

With years of experience in authentic Italian kitchens under his apron, d’Amuri made his way to New Haven, ready to change the face of the New England culinary world. He opened L’Orcio in 2002, bringing traditional Italian cuisine and flavors to Upper State Street. 

Twenty years later, Chef Francesco d’Amuri’s Italian roots remain embedded in every dish served at L’Orcio. “My family’s land in Puglia continues to influence my cooking. It was there that I learned from the best ingredients comes the best food,” says Francesco. “The hallmark of a great menu is top-notch ingredients and consistent execution.” 


Speaking of great menus… The most popular dish on L’Orcio’s carefully curated menu is the Pappardelle al Ragú, a classic Italian dish made throughout Italy with slightly different variations. 

“It is a simple, straightforward dish that can either highlight a chef’s finesse or expose a lack thereof,” says Francesco. And while the Ragú is a crowd favorite, Chef Francesco d’Amuri has favorites of his own. “I really enjoy Veal Saltimbocca and always love to chow down on some homemade rigatoni with Amatriciana sauce.”


Beyond the tables of L’Orcio, foodie travelers visiting New Haven will be met with vibrant, bold flavors, as well as classic traditional delicacies. Outside of his own kitchen, Chef Francesco d’Amuri embraces the diversity of neighboring New Haven restaurants. “The culinary scene in New Haven is so diverse, offering a wide array of options. Our booming residential development has increased the amount of people that are actually living in New Haven,” says Francesco. “A lot of young talented people continue coming to create new businesses and support existing ones.”

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