News & Politics

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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Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.