Recipes: Misconduct Tavern’s Chef Nicholas Mezzina’s Father’s Broccoli Rabe & Spaghetti

Misconduct Tavern’s Chef Nicholas Mezzina: I have a very savory salty palate, and I’m not too much into sweets, even as a kid. As a child, I would love broccoli rabe and spaghetti. My father would cook it. He’d add the spaghetti to the pot full of brocolli rabe. Before dumping it all out, you’d save a quarter of the water. You’d squeeze lemon over it and add a little Parmesan cheese. To me, that was the best. People would come over, friends of mine, and they’d ask what I was eating. They found it so disgusting, but I loved it. And I still do to this day. It’s almost like a soup because of the extra water, which is basically a broth. My father is from Molfetta, Italy, and they called it ‘cime de rabe e pasta.” Don’t quote me on that spelling, though. I literally ate this twice a week growing up. Broccoli rabe was much more bitter when I was a child than it is these days. This is a really great “peasant’s one pot dish.’ I always went heavy with the lemon, and it’s just great in the summer. Enjoy my father’s cime de rabe e pasta (broccoli rabe and spaghetti).

Misconduct Tavern’s Chef Mezzina’s Father’s Broccoli Rabe & Spaghetti

Servings:  about 4


  • Broccoli rabe, two bunches
  • Spaghetti, 1 lb.
  • Garlic, 4 cloves chopped
  • a pinch of Salt
  • a pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon half, to squeeze


  1. Cut the broccoli rabe into large pieces and place in boiling water and cook for 45 minutes.
  2. Break the spaghetti in half and add to the boiling water. Cook it a little past al dente so it’s softer and absorbs more “broth.”
  3. Strain out 3/4’s of the water. Then add garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Top it with lots of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve with fresh, crusty Italian bread and a lemon wedge. Squeeze the lemon over the pasta just before eating. Enjoy!

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