Ever since the first televised food show “Cookery” hit the British airwaves in June 1946, the cooking and eating public have been obsessed with celebrity chefs and their cuisine, whether the programs were the initial 10 minutes hosted by Phillip Harben or the current hour-long celebrity competition “Iron Chef.”
Soon a third local restaurant will be the subject of a broadcast – with a twist.
Nonna Rosa, an Italian restaurant in Okatie Village owned by Chef Giuseppe “Peppe” Gialone, is scheduled to appear in an independently filmed series on Amazon Prime, the online streaming network.
Gialone and his restaurant will be the final episode in season two of “Beyond the Check,” a series that focuses on owner-operated restaurants, produced by Independent Lasagna Productions.
Bluffton’s Pour Richard’s and Pomodori on Hilton Head Island were among the six restaurants featured in season one in 2020. Three others were in Savannah, with one in Athens, Ohio.
Savannah businessman Reyshan Parker, owner and host of the production company, interviewed Gialone at the restaurant Dec. 18 during filming. The first season began this past November and can be viewed on Amazon Prime by searching “Beyond the Check: Worker Owner Edition.”
“I have been a chef all my life. I always worked in a restaurant,” Gialone said. “My family had a restaurant, my grandmother had a restaurant. The school bus would pick me up at the restaurant and take me back.”
Nonna Rosa has been in the Okatie Village for four years.
“I like to find family restaurants, and there’s nothing more family than Italian,” Parker said.
Gialone, who was executive chef and co-owner at Bella Napoli in Savannah, and head chef and co-owner of La Fontana Waterfront Grill at Shelter Cove, brings his culinary heritage from Pozzuoli, Italy, a city near Naples – and also the home of actress Sophia Loren.
While he doesn’t watch much TV, Chef Gialone expects people will watch the online series, and the publicity will be good.
“It’s free publicity and it can’t hurt,” he said.
Parker finds restaurants by searching online for chef-owned restaurants. He and his wife, Jordan, and their film crew conduct informal interviews with the chef-owners as they prepare for the day’s menu. Then, the Parkers sample whatever is brought to the table, from starter to dessert.
For the production, Gialone prepared one of his favorite dishes as the entrée – Boscaiola, an infusion of ground sausage with mushrooms served with a creamy blush sauce and served over rigatoni.
Based on the dishes served up online, foodies will probably find themselves looking for the phone number to make reservations or order take out.
The Nonna Rosa’s episode is scheduled for viewing June 2021.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.