At Union Square Cafe, with the Greenmarket at his doorstep, Executive Chef and Partner Carmen Quagliata explores and develops his passion for his native Italian cuisine in one of the country’s most beloved restaurants. Carmen’s culinary style was formed by the Sicilian matriarchs of his family, who made sausage and bread by hand and grew pole beans from seeds carried across the Atlantic by their Italian kin.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Carmen became an apprentice at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia under Chef Hartmut Handke. Three years later, he headed west to work for Michael Chiarello at Tra Vigne in Napa Valley. There he quickly advanced from Sous Chef to Executive Sous Chef to Executive Chef/Partner.
In 2001, Carmen was hired to work for Lydia Bastianich at Felidia in New York City. He then moved to Boston and became Chef at The Vault, which quickly earned three stars from both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. After researching opening a restaurant in Boston, Carmen realized his heart lay in New York, and a fortuitous introduction brought him to Union Square Cafe.
It was immediately apparent that Carmen was the perfect complement to Chef Michael Romano’s kitchen, and in January 2005, he was hired as Chef de Cuisine. Carmen was promoted to Executive Chef in September 2007. Within a year the restaurant received four stars from Time Out New York, and reclaimed the title of New York City’s Most Popular Restaurant from the Zagat Survey – an honor Union Square Cafe has received an unprecedented nine times. Carmen’s cooking continues to show his respect for all that has come before at USC, as well as his creativity, taste and appreciation for the seasons, as he shapes the restaurant’s future.
Carmen lives in Verona, NJ, with his wife Palma and sons Tino and Gabriel. He spends his free time maintaining a vegetable garden from which he creates fresh meals for his family and fulfilling his duty as a Yankees fan by passing the tradition down to his sons.