House of Magic

There’s no telling what tricks Savino Recine is cooking up.

Savino Recine’s McLean home is filled with magic. The chef/owner of Primi Piatti and Finemondo, two DC restaurants, Recine is also a magician. Most mornings, he rises at 5 am and, after a cup of coffee, heads to the basement to practice his magic.

“I spend a lot of time in this room,” says Recine, who practices two to three hours at a time. In the basement movie-and-game room, he and fellow magicians such as Bob Sheets sometimes practice together: “This is where we show off all our stuff.”

Recine, who grew up in and around Rome, became fascinated with magic at age ten thanks to a comic book that featured a magician: “I said, ‘If I do this stuff, everyone will be my friend.’ ”

Sure enough, when he and his wife have friends over for dinner—cooking remains his first love—they ask him to do magic. “I entertain myself; I entertain my friends. With wine, magic works much better,” Recine says.

A self-taught magician and chef, he also entertains customers. Once a month or so, Primi Piatti offers a special dinner where, between courses, Recine performs.

For one trick, he asks someone in the audience to pick a card and put it back into the deck without showing it to him. He then places the deck in a Champagne bucket. A mechanism inside the bucket ejects the cards into the air and, with his eyes covered and a sword in hand, Recine spears the chosen card out of the air. That trick, he says, took 15 years to learn.

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Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Bikes and Hikes, Fairs and Festivals, Great Small Towns, and the Washington Bucket List. She lives in Arlington.