Polpo con patate novelle/Octopus with Fingerling Potatoes

  • Serves 4
  • 2 pounds octopus, divided into 4 pieces
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 6 fresh bay leaves, or 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • Salt
  • ½ pound fingerling potatoes
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced into rounds
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 handfuls mixed greens, frisée, or salad of choice
  • ½ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette ( page 348)

Recipe from The Al Tiramisu Restaurant Cookbook

My octopus-loving clients appreciate the meaty yet tender texture of octopus—and the fact that it contains no bones. Served grilled, as in this exquisite dish, octopus is fantastic. One loyal fan is our regular client Andrew Guinoso, a pescetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish). Andrew came in alone one night, took a seat at the bar and ordered this plate. After one bite, he commented that the “stars must have aligned” and moved him to order it. The expression was new to me then, but it’s now forever linked to Andrew and this octopus dish. “Andrea” as I call him in Italian, became a friend and remains part of the Al Tiramisu story.


  1. Place the octopus parts, lemon, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large pot. Add enough water to cover plus 2 inches.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium high, and let boil, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove the octopus from the water, drain, and let cool.
  3. Bring a medium saucepan ¾ full of water to a boil over high heat.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook uncovered until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes in a colander, and when they are cool enough to touch, peel and slice into 1/8-inch rounds.
  6. Preheat the grill to high.
  7. In a large bowl, combine potato rounds, scallions, parsley, and olive oil. Salt to taste.
  8. Place the octopus parts on the grill until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Octopus is finished cooking when the thickest part yields to the sharp point of a small knife with little resistance.
  9. To serve, place a mold (2 inches diameter by 2 inches deep) in the center of each plate. Divide the potato mixture between the molds and press down with the back of a spoon. Remove the molds.
  10. Place the greens around the potatoes and place the octopus on either side. Drizzle octopus and salad greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

 Italian Cooking Primer

In addition to boiling octopus in water, as in this recipe, it can be boiled in red wine, or slowly simmered in olive oil, making it a “confit,” the term for food that has been immersed in oil or sugar water. Octopus cooked up to this point (not grilled) can be cut into small pieces and added directly into a risotto or sauce for pasta.

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