Part 1: Julieta Oriolo’s Italian Kitchen

Italian food with an Argentine flair

By Google Arts & Culture

Allie Lazar

Julieta Dog by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Julieta Oriolo

Italian influences are apparent in all aspects of Argentine life, and Argentine cooking has strong Italian roots. Chef Julieta Oriolo is the daughter of an Italian immigrant. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Julieta, who came to Argentina by boat from Calabria in 1960. “My grandmother was pure tana,” Julieta said. In Argentine lunfardo, or slang, a “tana/tano” is a person from Italy or of Italian ancestry. “She was a widow and always dressed in black. She never took off her gold rings and bracelets, not even while rolling out pasta dough.”

Julieta folding pasta by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and La Alacena

Julieta has a huge smile on her face as she rolls out pasta dough on a wooden table in the kitchen of La Alacena, her restaurant in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. She adds filling, carefully folds the dough, and begins to cut it with a ravioli wheel. 

Cutting Pasta by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and La Alacena

“When I was in Parma, I ate the best ravioli of my life,” she explains. “It needs to be thin, the filling smooth. I’ve managed to recreate that, and that makes me so happy. I get very excited when I make ravioli.”

Ravioli by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Julieta Oriolo

Like many first and second-generation Argentines, Italian culture has always been an important part of Julieta’s life, especially the food. “In my house, we are always talking about food.” Her first memories are of her grandmother cooking for her entire family, making ricotta balls, soups, and sauces.

Julieta pasta by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Julieta Oriolo

 “One day she was making meatballs, I can remember the smell of the house. There must have been a piece of basil that fell into the olive oil and began to fry, it had such a strong fragrance, that smell has stayed with me my entire life,” she says. “Italian grandmothers aren’t the type of grandmothers who teach you how to cook their recipes, they don’t let you stay in the kitchen. They grab you and take you out. My mom was the same, so I started cooking for myself when I moved from the coast to live alone in Buenos Aires.”

Julieta bike by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and La Alacena

Although Julieta studied psychology, she took an internship as a cook over 20 years ago, and hasn’t left the kitchen since. She worked her way up, leading as chef and overseeing big kitchens across the city, until she opened her own restaurant La Alacena, which is Spanish for the pantry.

“La Alacena is a modern trattoria that sells fresh pasta and baked goods, that’s how I like to describe it today,” chef Julieta Oriolo explains. There, in a small kitchen, she has gone on a search for her Italian identity, La Alacena into a haven for Italian cuisine. “I was always cooking at someone else’s restaurant, I wanted to do things in my own place. Something mine. To make my own food. My own cooking style, which is 100% Italian.”

LaAlacenaKitchen by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Julieta Oriolo

Julieta’s two trips to Italy over the years helped her define her point of view in the kitchen. “I took my mother to see her sister, my Aunt Carmelia, they hadn’t been together in over 40 years. I went from the north to the south, eating everything! I wanted to make sure we were doing everything right at La Alacena.” 

Julieta Carmelia by Julieta Oriolo and Allie Lazar

Julieta’s family is from a small town in Calabria, and there, her Aunt Carmelia, taught her everything. “She’d wait for me at 6 am, and for 15 days straight, day and night, I didn’t leave her side. We didn’t talk much because I don’t speak Italian and she didn’t speak Spanish. Instead, we’d cook together.”

Credits: Story

Part 2: Julieta Oriolo's Italian Kitchen

Credits: All media
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