Only foods specially shipped from his homeland of Sicily pass the test for the man in the kitchen at Piccola Cucina Enoteca at 184 Prince St., as well as at his new spinoff eatery Piccola Cucina Osteria, located at 196 Spring St.
Three to four times a week, Guardione, a 31-year-old Sicily native, receives shipments of cheese, produce, oil, fresh fish and more.
"Everything tastes different. The ocean is different. It has more salt. The fish tastes different," he explained. "We import everything, even the people," he added, pointing to the all-Italian staff in the tiny Spring Street restaurant's open kitchen.
Since opening the last weekend in March, Piccola Cucina Osteria has served traditional Sicilian entrees — a slight departure from the small plates and tapas-like items served at its Prince Street counterpart, which opened in May 2009, Milan-born manager Davide Poggi said.
"There is for a younger crowd," he said of the Enoteca. "Here it's more classic."
Fresh pasta dishes at the casual, 28-seat restaurant include pasta alle sarde with Sicilian sardines, pine nuts, raisins and wild fennel, and run anywhere from $14 to $24 each.
The wine list showcases selections from Sicily and Tuscany.
Guardione said he hopes to provide the same level of dining at Piccola Cucina Osteria that he created at Piccola Cucina Enoteca, which won a Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2012 for providing good cuisine with good value.
"I want to bring the same as before — quality, design and service," he said.