A renowned Italian restaurant in Douglaston will be featured on a popular Cooking Channel program this June.
Earlier this month, the owners of Il Toscano Restaurant at 42-05 235th St. broke the news that it will be appearing on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” The program features celebrity chefs describing the best dishes they have tried at restaurants around the United States.
Chef and co-owner Alex Privilegi said that the Cooking Channel reached out to him and his father Mauro Privilegi in 2018 following a nomination from celebrity chef Michael Psilakis.
“[He] nominated us and he’s eaten at the restaurant at least a half-dozen times or more,” Privilegi said, adding that only establishments nominated by chefs can be featured on the program.
Privilegi said that the New York-based chef and restaurateur chose the Lobster Il Toscano, which he and his father developed in the early 1990s. The decadent dish consists of two one and one-quarter pound lobsters cut into pieces and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon, Calabrian chilies and white wine.
Diners also have the option of ordering whole lobsters, which is how the Il Toscano originally served the dish. According to Privilegi, he and his father refined the dish over a two-month period and it was an “instant success” once it hit the menu.
Filming for the June 17 episode took place in November 2018 and involved nearly six hours of interviews, cooking and capturing shots of diners eating the finished product.
“It was a lot of fun,” Privilegi said. “I was ecstatic and honored [to be featured] because it’s a validation of what we do.”
Mauro Privilegi opened Il Toscano in 1985 after working at New York City’s Hotel Pierre for 19 years. Today, Mauro runs the restaurant with his son Alex and his two daughters.
According to Alex, the restaurant’s practices are rooted in the Italian philosophy of using fresh, seasonal ingredients. He shared that he regularly visits the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx in order to have the freshest ingredients on hand and control the food quality.
The chef said that he was a fan of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” even before Psilakis nominated Il Toscano.
“In this industry, it’s important to keep up with what others are doing — you can’t rest on your laurels. New restaurants open every day,” Privilegi said.
“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” featuring Il Toscano will air on the Cooking Channel on Monday, June 17, at 9 p.m. Check your local listings.