Since graduating from the unofficial School of Andrew Weissman, Piemonte, Italy, transplant Luca Della Casa has found an unlikely niche market by catering some of SA’s most delicious dinner parties.
What brought you to San Antonio?
I was living in Spain, in the Canary Islands, and a good friend of mine met a girl from Waco. They fell in love, they got married, and they moved here. I followed them as an adventure. Then I had the chance of meeting Massimo Palotteli, who was running Sage restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel.
And since then?
I worked for one year there and then I went to work at Le Rêve, where I stayed a little over two years. And then when Mr. Weissman decided to open Il Sogno, I moved there and I ran the restaurant for almost two years, till March of this year.
Since I left Il Sogno, I’ve been working mostly on catering private parties. It’s definitely a good niche of the market in San Antonio. There are a lot of people who can afford to organize parties at their house. They can have a nice dinner with their friends in the coziness of their place.
And has this all been word of mouth?
Most of it. I like to use the local farmers and providers. They get contacted constantly for catering or private chefs.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Definitely my best guns are in Italian cuisine. I like to present a more modern concept of Italian cuisine, not too refined. Nowadays people want to have simple food, something they can recognize. There’s a lot of attention on the ingredients, so of course I love to work with local farmers and growers. And I like the idea of presenting Italian food that is healthy and not heavy and super-high-calorie like it could have been four years ago.
Has Texas had any effect on the way you cook?
Yes, definitely. Every time I travel, every time I move or experience a new country, I get influences from it and learn something — in getting to know new ingredients and techniques in cooking from the places I’ve been or the food I’ve been exposed to.
What five ingredients do you always keep at home?
Parmesan, olive oil, anchovies, onion, garlic.
Could you make anything with just those items?
With some pasta or salad or support to it, but that’s kind of the base to what I need to put together a meal. With the right protein or pasta or a green-leaf salad, a meal can come up pretty easy.
What would you say is missing in San Antonio in terms of our culinary scene?
San Antonio is such an interesting market. I think it would need a little bit of everything still. We definitely don’t need any more Tex-Mex restaurants. But for all the rest, it’s an open market.