A dancer, DJ, and bodybuilder from South Philadelphia, Steve Martorano opened his eponymous Café Martorano 20 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., serving traditional red sauce Italian dishes in a casual atmosphere coupled with classic movies like Scarface and a rock 'n' roll and R&B soundtrack. Martorano has since channeled his culinary passions into a brand and way of life called "Yo Cuz!," and he even has his own line of pasta sauces.
Now, the burly chef — who bounced back from triple-bypass surgery due to three clogged arteries — will be cooking up an Italian-American Christmas meal at the James Beard House on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Martorano is known for taking Italian-American ingredients and reinterpreting them, while still maintaining the integrity of the dish’s ingredients (no deconstruction here). Highlights of the meal include a mortadella spread made from the once-banned cold cut, puréed and served on toasted garlic bread, and a meatball that’s garnered acclaim from Gourmet magazine. The dinner costs $170, and reservations can be made by calling 212-627-2308.