Born in Albania and raised in Italy, Erind Halilaj learned the meaning of quality service at a young age. Through his mother’s role as director of operations for luxury hotels, Erind was introduced to a world of fine dining and 5-star service. This led to a deep passion for not only fantastic food, but all aspects of the dining experience.
Halilaj worked at several 5-star hotels and highly praised restaurants in Italy, Florida, and New York City before joining Austin's New Waterloo team as Executive Chef of Il Brutto and La Matta. Il Brutto is a neighborhood Italian restaurant and La Matta is a sandwich shop, both in East Austin. Il Brutto was honored as one of 2019's Top 10 Restaurants in Austin by the Austin Chronicle’s food editor and La Matta was voted Austin Monthly’s best new restaurant in 2018.
- ¼ lb fresh guanciale (can substitute pancetta)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano, finely grated
- Crushed black pepper to taste
- Around 7 oz fresh pasta (such as tonnarelli) or half a box dried pasta (such as spaghetti, bucatini, or rigatoni)
- 1 tsp salt with more to taste
- Saute the guanciale until crispy in a Saute Pan; no need to add oil to the pan before sauteing as the meat will crisp in its own fat.
- Once crispy, set the meat aside in a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra grease.
- In a bowl, mix together the egg yolks with the Pecorino Romano and black pepper until smooth. Add 1 spoonful of guanciale fat from the pan.
- Boil 1 gallon of water in a Stock Pot, adding 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes (or to package guidelines if not using fresh pasta).
- Drain and rinse the pasta and place in the bowl with the eggs and pecorino. Mix together until smooth and creamy, season to taste, and it's ready to enjoy.