Leeds Restaurants: Meet the Sicilian Chef at Culto Meanwood who serves Italian cuisine made with love
From Sicilian arancini stuffed with mozzarella and ham to the best-selling Diavola pizza with spicy Nduja imported from Calabria, Meanwood Restaurant’s simple menu is packed with authentic Italian fare.
At the head of the lively kitchen is Nunzio La Rosa, who has been a pizza maker for over two decades.
Born in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, Nunzio grew up surrounded by good food – waiting for the day he could leave school to work in his family restaurant.
“My earliest memories are of my mother cooking squid in the pan, I loved the fish,” Nunzio told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“I started cooking when I was 20 after I finished school. My mom and dad had a restaurant in Italy and I worked there as a pizza chef. I was in love with the food.
“My dream when I was a student has always been to work in the restaurant business.
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Nunzio moved to the UK in 2014 and joined the Culto team a year later, helping to oversee the launch of Sicilian street food restaurant POCO in 2018.
If there was anyone qualified to bring Sicilian street food to Leeds, it was Nunzio, and the take out was an instant hit – with queues often on Kirkstall Road.
Now Culto’s chef, Nunzio oversees every detail of the restaurant’s menu, from creating Napoli sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes to trying new flavor combinations with his specialty pizzas. .
The 41-year-old said: “It’s a simple menu from Italy, the pizza is very popular – a normal pizza with white flour and a charcoal pizza with a black base. People love it. .
“We have traditional and simple pasta. There is carbonara, arrabiata and arancini from my town in Sicily – arancini vegetables with truffle and arancini meat with ham.
“My favorite dish is penne arrabbiata, a spicy paste from Rome, we make it with chili, garlic, Napoli sauce and cherry tomato.”
When the pandemic struck, the restaurant fell back on its expansive delivery menu to stay afloat – with orders pouring in from a loyal customer base who wanted their Culto shot.
The restaurant delivers to most postcodes in Leeds, serving restaurant quality food in a take out format.
“We were very busy during the pandemic,” Nunzio said.
Nunzio and his team want to show everyone how delicious Italian food can be and, according to the rave reviews on Tripadvisor from Culto, they are successful in doing so.
He praised the team around him, a kitchen full of experienced Italian chefs bringing their love for authentic cuisine to Leeds.
Nunzio added, “I love everything about my job, from making special pizzas to cooking arancini, bolognese and fresh Neapolitan sauce. I like to worry about the food.
“Customers give great reviews on TripAdvisor and in the restaurant.
“We make fresh bolognese, fresh Napoli sauce and fresh arancini. It’s a simple menu and every day we get fresh vegetables and fish.
“We serve authentic food. Nothing is artificial, everything is natural. I make the tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, the beef comes from local farmers.
” Everything is handmade. It’s cooking with love at Culto.
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