Learning to Cook at Pizzeria Posto

pizzeria postoPhotos by Emily Cassel

Alpine Restaurant Group has brought a lot of good eats to Davis Square since it was founded in 2009. Pizzeria Posto, The Painted Burro and, most recently, the revamped Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar, have all helped cement Somerville’s growing reputation as a foodie destination. But starting later this month, you won’t even have to make the trek to Davis to taste their signature dishes—the group is kicking off a series of cooking classes that let guests take the lessons behind classic menu items home with them.

Earlier this week, Scout got a chance to attend a preview class at Pizzeria Posto, where Alpine founder and Painted Burro/Posto executive chef Joe Cassinelli gave attendees the rundown on how to make a savory mushroom risotto with duck breast.

pizzeria posto

The finished product. Mmmm.

To be clear, I am no cook—and that’s putting it mildly. I consider my dinner a success if I add some shredded cheese and Frank’s Red Hot to a pot of Kraft macaroni and cheese. (Bon appétit!) And while I’d still consider it incredibly ambitious to try to cook a duck breast at home (or even a risotto, for that matter), I’d nonetheless consider the Posto class a success.

Because the cool thing about this series is that as Cassinelli goes through his process, he imparts little tips and tricks that will help aspiring at-home chefs improve their cooking across the board. For example, have you been smashing your garlic with the flat edge of a blade, as so many Food Network chefs do? Well, stop doing that. All you’re doing is getting that delicious, garlicky flavor all over your cutting board, instead of in whatever dish you’re preparing. (Cassinelli playfully remarked that, when it comes to prepping garlic, you should take your cue from a scene in the classic gangster flick “Goodfellas” where Pauli is slicing garlic as thin as possible with a razor blade.)

pizzeria posto

Razor blade not actually required, but, you get it.

Cassinelli is a wealth of kitchen-based wisdom; he can tell you why you should be using a rounded, wooden spoon rather than a metal one and how to cook with parmesan rinds so you don’t waste their cheesy goodness. When it comes to the risotto, the tip most likely to make me attempt to prepare this dish at home is that he calls it a way to “clean out your fridge.” You can make a great risotto with practically any combination of veggies, meats, cheeses—whatever you have. (Though Cassinelli does not recommend attempting a leftover Chinese food risotto, as he did with lo mein noodles at his Somervile home one drunken night.)

You won’t get a chance to try out the mushroom risotto for yourself for a little while, as the upcoming classes include Derby-Day eats at Rosebud on April 25 and a May 16 primer on festive summer dishes like fish tacos at The Painted Burro. The series doesn’t return to Posto until June 20, when Cassinelli will be talking wood-fired pizza and serving up sangria. In the meantime, you can check out a complete list of “In the Kitchen with Alpine Restaurant Group” classes and grab tickets on Eventbrite.