photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Get to Know Nana’s Anthony Bombaci

Anthony Bombaci can’t pin down the precise origins of his savory sweet dishes but says his inspiration comes in part from nine years of cooking in Barcelona. 

Best compliment to the chef: Once a pastry chef told me, “I can tell by the way you cook that you really love it.” 

Kitchen tool everyone should have: A Japanese knife. It’s lighter than a German knife, so it can be awkward to use at first, but the edge is sharper and stays sharper.

The food at Nana is: Neoclassical and personal. I like to cook things I like to eat.

My guilty pleasure: A frozen Snickers bar (not an ice cream Snickers). I have to stay away from those or I’ll go on a binge.

My favorite winter foods: Stews, braised or glazed dishes, beans, and hot soups.

My favorite cookbook: A current favorite is Happy in the Kitchen: the Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating by Michel Richard. He uses French technique with American standards and produces something you’d never think of—like hamburgers made with lobster meat.

Cooking disaster: One time the ice cream I was making simply would not firm up. It took me about an hour and a half to figure out that the paddle, which rotates inside the machine, was sitting next to the machine. It was pretty bad.

A source of inspiration: All different things, really. Home. Fresh produce at Central Market. Really old, reprinted cookbooks from Medieval Europe. Technical cookbooks coming out of Spain.

Where I eat on my night off: Home. My wife cooks more than I do at home. We have twin 6-year-old boys, so it’s a lot of pasta and red sauce.

The ingredient I use most: A pairing of garlic and parsley.

A quick meal idea: Four ingredients: pasta, garlic, cayenne chilies, and oil. It’s as quick as it gets. Boil the water, and you are looking at five minutes until your meal is ready. It doesn’t cost much either.
Weird things I’ve eaten: Cow’s tongue, rooster’s combs, pig’s feet, lamb’s brain, cow tripe. I’m allergic to raw carrots, though, so I stay away from those.

My signature dish: It’s more of a technique. I am partial to taking a good product and doing either a short sear or a long, 36-to-72-hour grill.

I’m watching: Francesco Farris at Arcodoro & Pomodoro and his honest, good food.

Dining pet peeve: If I go to a restaurant with hype, I expect the server to know the food. If he doesn’t, I take that personally. 

Where I shop: The Dallas Farmers Market for dry, cayenne chilies and Central Market to be inspired by the beautiful produce they have on display.

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