Chef Trama is a household name for many of us in Monmouth County, as he has lent his talents to and founded some of our most revered area eateries over the years. Here, he shares with us a bit of his background along with a mouth-watering recipe for a rich and creamy pasta dish worthy of a good bottle of wine and close friends on a cold winter night. And if cooking is not your “thing,” tuck into a bowl of bucatini or another of Chef Trama’s authentic Italian dishes at Trama’s Trattoria, right on Brighton Ave in Long Branch.
Chef Trama is a native New Yorker. From his earliest days helping out at his parents’ eatery and cooking with his grandparents, he has always had a passion for food and cooking. He began his professional culinary career behind the line at the River Café in Brooklyn under the tutelage of Charlie Palmer, the James Beard award-winning chef. River Café, known for launching many world-class chefs, has been referred to as the “Harvard Business School of Culinary Arts” by the New York Times. Chef Trama went on to work with the renowned restaurateur Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group, which includes Nobu, Della Femina, Batard, and Tribeca Grill. He found his love and respect for Tuscan culture and cuisine while working with restaurateur Pino Luongo and making several visits to the Italian region. Chef Trama worked as the sous chef at Luonogo’s La Madre and Coco Pazzo in New York before becoming executive chef at Coco Pazzo in Chicago. Chef Trama then served as the executive chef at celebrity chef-owned David Burke and Donatella before becoming executive chef at David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson, New Jersey.
Trama’s travels and experience inspired him to open his own restaurant with his wife, Laura Trama, that featured authentic Tuscan cuisine, Ama Ristorante Tuscana in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. After tremendous growth, the Tramas relocated Ama to Sea Bright. Chef Pat is now established at Trama’s Trattoria in the West End of Long Branch, New Jersey, “I was anxious to get back in the kitchen with an intimate comfortable restaurant but wanted to wait for the right space.” Chef Trama has a strong following with food and wine aficionados due to his fierce commitment to quality, consistency, and attention to detail. Chef Trama uses the highest-quality local, farm to table ingredients according to the seasons when they are at their optimum taste.
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
By Chef Pat Trama, Owner of Trama’s Trattoria
This traditional Roman dish literally translates to “Cheese & Pepper.” Chef Pat’s version includes a favorite to pack in even more flavor – black truffle. It’s a perfect recipe for an impromptu winter pasta night. Serves four.
Cook ¾ of a pound of pasta
Reserve 16oz pasta water
Cool pasta at room temperature (not under cold water)
16oz chicken or vegetable stock
16oz pasta water
4oz black truffle butter
2oz unsalted butter
½ cup grated pecorino romano
1 tbsp freshly cracked black peppercorns
¼ oz just shaved black winter truffles (optional)
In a medium-sized saucepot over medium-high heat, begin to reduce chicken stock and pasta water down by two-thirds. Add black truffle butter along with unsalted butter. Whisk in 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano and the freshly cracked black peppercorns. Turn heat down to warm, then slowly incorporate pasta into sauce once heated. Plate in a large bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano, and finish with the just shaved winter black truffles. Serves 4 people.