Would you say that your cuisine is very Italian-inspired?
Yes, very much so! I don’t believe in regional cooking or local ingredients because, for me, Italy is like one big region where the best food is found. My dishes take shape from all this: all the ingredients represents the best of Italy. I define my cooking as Garibaldina because I unite Italy with just one dish…
Can you provide some examples?
Well, tomatoes from Naples, shrimp from Porto Santo Spirito and “rosso di Sulmona” garlic. Otherwise, Navelli saffron comes to mind from the Fucino region… the best in my opinion!
From the best foods to restaurants. Can you share four or five restaurants that you couldn’t live without?
In Italy, there are tons of wonderful restaurants. There are a few that come immediately to mind: Tenda Rossa in Trieste, l’Antica Osteria at the Teatro di Piacenza, Il Rigoletto in Emilia, la Capanna di Eraclio in Ferrarese and, obviously, Cracco in Milano or Don Alfonso in Sorrento!
What do you think makes Italy stand out at the table?
I think that Italy has a very important culinary tradition, which is unique in the world. In the 1980s, however, we made a big mistake: unlike the French, who focused on la nouvelle cuisine, we relied on tradition… and there’s nothing worse than that. Tradition should be respected and improved because even tradition has to evolve. Don Alfonso, for example, followed the evolution of Neapolitan tradition: not just great food and excellent recipes but a familiar atmosphere. That’s what foreign tourists want: excellent dishes and a lively experience.
And when you’re abroad? What do you miss the most, particularly in terms of food?
When I cook outside of Italy, there are certain ingredients that I don’t use because I like to eat locally. I like to test myself. I want to experience the place in full. But coffee is something that I miss. Neapolitan coffee is something that is truly full of body and unique in the world.
And if you had to recommend an Italian place that no one should miss?
I’d say the fields of Romagna in autumn: yellow leaves and fog. There are the places where I grew up and that I love best. When I’m there, there’s the smell of must, which brings me back to Christmas, a time that I am very connected to. Maybe that’s because Christmas means Tortellini to me!
A man from Romagna in love with tortellini, an evergreen!
There’s no doubt about it: tortellini in broth are my favourite. A tourist can’t miss it, especially with a nice glass of Lambrusco!