Make Spina’s A ‘Mpepata e Cozze (Neapolitan Mussels)


With all the breakfast pizza around these days, it was just a matter of time before someone came up with breakfast pasta. Spina just launched weekend brunch service, featuring its signature ravioli with egg yolk and ricotta di bufala, as well as baked eggs and guanciale over spicy tomato sauce, grilled steak with two eggs any style and potatoes, and polenta pancakes with ricotta and cinnamon berry jam. Co-owner Rob Terek shares a recipe for his Neapolitan mussels, also available at brunch, called A ‘Mpepata e Cozze, with manage to outshine them all.

“The dish is a modern twist on a Neapolitan classic – mussels with white wine, garlic and lots of fresh black pepper,” says Terek. “We knew it was a great dish but even we were surprised when it outsold our meatballs. For an Italian restaurant, that’s saying something!”

A ‘Mpepata e Cozze

Yield: 2

For the chive oil:
1 bunch fresh chives
2-3 tablespoons water
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a blender, combine the ingredients. Start with just enough water and olive oil to get the blender to chop the chives. Once it’s blended, drizzle the olive oil from the top of blender for no more than 15-20 seconds to get a slightly thickened emulsion. Pour the mixture into a strainer over a bowl to separate chive pieces. Press the pieces down with spatula to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids and set aside.

For the mussels:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3/4 pounds Bouchon Neapolitan mussels (these are bigger and meatier but may be harder to find; Prince Edward Island can be substituted), cleaned
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chive oil
pinch salt
2 lemons, juiced
handful of parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil to finish (use the best olive oil you have)

In a 10-inch pan over high heat, add the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until browned, about 1-2 minutes. Add the mussels and cook for 1 minute in the oil. Add wine, butter, black pepper and salt. Cover and for 2 to 3 minutes until mussels open.

Add the juice of two lemons and 4 tablespoons of chive oil to the mussels and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. Plate in a bowl and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Drizzle with your best olive oil, and serve.

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