10 Questions With… Giada De Laurentiis

1. You recently opened Luna by Giada at the new Caesars Republic Scottsdale. Why did you decide to be part of the project?

Scottsdale is a great market. My cookbooks have always done very well there. Plus, there’s a strong economy with a great restaurant scene, so it felt like a natural fit. It was also lucky that I already have a relationship with Caesars and Caesars Republic, so again, it just made sense. Also, it can be a day trip if needed, so I feel like I can always get there quickly and for short periods of time.

2. How would you describe the food?

Luna by Giada bar & dining room

We are serving coastal Italian cuisine with California influence. While we kept some of our staples from Vegas on the menu, playing around with new dishes has been fun. We’ve put together a fantastic menu for this restaurant. I’m really excited about our new lemon pizza and the new vodka sauce we’ll be serving. We’re also doing very unique pasta shapes, like tripolini and nodi marini, to take people on a regional journey through Italy. They’re all made in-house, which sets us apart.

3. Are there any places you like to visit in the area — favorite restaurants, stores, hikes — or places you have on your to-visit list?

I have been trying all of the restaurants in the area. There’s SO much good food! I love to really know the surroundings of any restaurant location I open. I loved the seafood tower at Ocean 44; it was incredibly special. I loved the decor and vibe of Francine, the high ceilings and the bar area. Also, their branzino is stunning.

4. What is exciting to you about the food industry these days?

People in the industry are becoming really regionally focused. So many restaurants give you a real sense of what food is like in the different regions of Italy. We’ve come a long way from just spaghetti and meatballs on the menu. I think this is true for all types of foods, which is exciting.

5. What’s exciting you as a home cook?

Honestly, I have been loving simplicity. I’ve been traveling a lot, so I find it comforting to come home and make a really simple meal. I’ve been obsessed with a few salads that I make on repeat. For dinners, I actually use my Giadzy pasta several times a week — all of our fun shapes keep dinner exciting. Our pasta is made so that you can eat it plain if you want to, and it still tastes great!

6. Do you have any cooking aspirations?

I would love to master the perfect pizza dough that works in all types of ovens. Pizza dough can be very tricky. For example, the Vegas dough recipe doesn’t work in Scottsdale, so perfecting our Scottsdale recipe took a lot of my attention during the opening.

Photo by Ray Katchatorian

7. What about travel — and eating — plans this summer?

I have a few really fun Italy trips coming up. I’m going to Milan soon, and making trips to Torino, which is the home of the best chocolates, and Asti, the home of prosecco. Later this summer, I’m going to Sorrento and the Almafi Coast to look at the tomatoes we will be canning and using for our Giadzy sauces. It’s so fun to traverse Italy in search of the best of everything to bring back to our customers.

8. What do you like to cook on a hot day?

I love my Sicilian pesto —  a tomato-based pesto from Sicily that is different from the green-based pesto we all know from the north. We’re serving it at Luna, and I’m excited to hopefully introduce some of our customers to a new type of pesto!

9. You’re involved with a number of charitable causes. Are you working on any special initiatives?

I’m really proud of my work with SPY in L.A. —  Safe Place for Youth. They do such amazing work supporting children experiencing homelessness, and I try to partner with them whenever I can. I’m an honoree at their gala this June, which I am really looking forward to.

10. What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually super shy! I  I love all of the craziness that comes with this job, but I love coming home and just being with my family — including my animals, of course — at the end of the day.

To learn more, visit giadadelaurentiis.com.

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