Dishing Up DeVito

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - December 31, 2008
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Danny DeVito

If you want to make Danny DeVito happy at dinner, roast him some red peppers.

“I love those beautiful roasted peppers,” he enthuses.

DeVito has a rich Italian background and he loves to cook. He has his own Italian restaurant in Miami, Danny DeVito’s South Beach, and last year he launched Danny DeVito’s Premium Limoncello. Naturally, our conversation got around to food pretty quickly.

“We have great family dinners over the holidays,” he says. “This year we’re going to my sister’s house in Jersey and we’ll have wonderful food. We always start with antipasto - some good salami, prosciutto and imported Italian cheese.” He went on to share a family recipe for linguine with anchovies that sounds so good I’m making it this weekend for dinner. Chatting with DeVito, it’s easy to tell he has a passion for good food and wine. Growing up in a big Italian family helped.

“We were always cooking and eating wonderful food,” he says.

Wine was plentiful too. “My uncles made wine, and that’s what we’d drink on Sundays when the family got together for dinner.”

We talked a bit about his premium limoncello, now available in Hawaii. After a launch in Vegas earlier in the year, DeVito is enjoying much success with his handcrafted liqueur. Technically a summer drink, referred to in Italy as liquid sunshine, I think limoncello is perfect for our year-round warm, sunny climate. The best stuff is made in Italy and usually is consumed after dinner as a digestif. DeVito suggests drinking it over ice or in a martini. He told me his favorite way to serve it:

“I take ice cubes made from sparkling water and then shave the ice into bowls. I pour the limoncello over the ice and serve it between courses as a palate cleanser. We eat it with a spoon.”

Sound familiar? “That’s a limoncello shave ice,” I said.

He laughed. “I know,” he replied, “and it’s sooo good.”

Commercially made limoncello can be too sweet and often too thick - DeVito’s is a really nice balance of tartness and sweetness. It is made with lemons from Sorrento - the ones known worldwide for their extraordinary fragrance and essential oils. No juice, though, in limoncello, which might come as a surprise to some. “Only the zest - and never ever the white part of the skin is used in making perfect limoncello,” says DeVito.

You can hear his latest project this holiday season in NBC’s Little Spirit, in which as the protagonist (and with a nod to earlier days in his career), he’s a New York cab driver telling a heart-warming tale to his passengers.

And if you want to grab a bottle of his limoncello to complete your holiday celebrations - it makes a great hostess gift - you’ll find it at most fine wine stores in Honolulu for about $26. It’s perfect with a splash of sparkling water, on the rocks or in a vodka martini. Or do it DeVito’s way and make a shave ice.

Happy eating!

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