Behind the scenes with Carlo Bigi of Il Principe
Carlo Bigi, formerly a chef at Sant Ambroeus and Casa Lever, is now the executive chef at Il Principe, an upscale Italian restaurant that opened in April in Hudson Square. This Lower-Manhattan neighborhood, also known as West SoHo, is bounded by West Houston Street to the north, Canal Street to the south, Sixth Avenue to the east and the Hudson River to the west.
Il Principe, located on the ground floor of the newly opened Hotel Hugo, features indoor and outdoor seating and is currently open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bigi also anticipates a brunch menu.
The chef welcomes the challenge of working at a new restaurant in a recently established neighborhood. “[Hudson Square] is going up, it’s on the rise. I believe this is the right food to do here,” he says.
Born and raised in Italy, Bigi was inspired to become a chef at an early age. “My mother owned a pizzeria, so it was kind of a family thing,” he says “I really liked to work in the kitchen, give orders. This was a great job for me.”
As the executive chef, Bigi decided to infuse both local and imported flavors in his dishes, which can be experienced in dishes like eggplant parmesan, Fusilli de Farro (homemade farro fusilli, broccoli rabe and lamb ragout) and Salmone con Insalata di Panzanella (Scottish salmon, cucumber, tomatoes, croutons and pickled red onion salad).
One of the dishes Bigi is most proud of at Il Principe is the gnocchi, a food he has been fond of since childhood. “I always loved gnocchi,” he says. “Now we serve it at Il Principe with buffalo ricotta and a lemon-butter sauce.”
His advice to aspiring chefs? Always try new things. “The best thing for any aspiring chef to do is to work with different chefs and learn new things, new techniques,” he says. “This is how you get better.”
Bigi says it’s the changes that make him a better person and professional. “You gain experience by seeing and doing new things,” he says. “These experiences open your eyes and your mind.”