Enrico Bartolini: here are my favourite things at Fico

We visit the Bolognese food Disneyland created by Oscar Farinetti with the five-star chef. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss

Enrico Bartolini at Fico Eataly World in Bologn

Enrico Bartolini at Fico Eataly World in Bologna, in front of his restaurant Cinque

According to five-star chef Enrico Bartolini («My congratulations go to Norbert Niederkofler. Michelin’s acknowledgement isn’t mandatory, you can live without it, but it justly celebrates his great story. I would have given him three stars 10 years ago already») «Fico charmed me. It has no equal in the world. I spoke with Oscar Farinetti a few months ago. He convinced me. He comes up with a dozen ideas per day. He then defines a coupleand one even comes true. It’s the first time we collaborate, I’m curious to find out what will happen. He asked me to take part in the project, told me he wanted to have me here. We come with our values and take on the challenge. He offers the building, the tools, the people… It can work. In fact, it’s already working».

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni with Oscar Farinetti on the opening day

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni with Oscar Farinetti on the opening day

As for the criticism that followed the debut of Fico-Eataly World,  Bartolini has a definite opinion: «In Italy people are always stiff when there’s something new. People are always careful when making comments (not praising, mind you) on something new, a different project with a little optimism. The same happened with Expo in Milan, just to give an example, which in the end changed – or contributed changing – a city, its attitude…».

Bartolini also says he started to think about collaborating with Fico in April 2016: «Association Le Soste, of which I’m a member, was creating its point of reference inside the site. They said: “Enrico, since you’re opening so many places, why don’t you go there too?”. I replied that since I had all these places to open, someone else could take care of this. Then I saw the project and realised we could open here too, and manage a restaurant offering high quality: the idea was feasible, it could have a future».

Finally Bartolini says «at Fico there are excellent food artisans who work really well. Perhaps you won’t find the smallest niche, because this site must seek numbers too. But there is quality, you can take on a gastronomic journey with many different stops. And we’re looking around, to get to know those who are at Fico more and more, and find new stimuli for our cuisine at Cinque», the restaurant – the fifth in Italy, as hinted by the name – that the Tuscan chef has just opened in the Bolognese gourmet Disneyland - we’ll soon write about it.

So let’s discover the best of Fico according to our famous guide, Enrico Bartolini.

GIOSTRE DI FICO - «In this huge, generous context, the Giostre di Fico are the areas dedicated to culture. Even the best chef has something to learn, or to review. Like how to use malt in the section dedicated to beer, for instance. Then of course it’s also a game, children have fun and learn. Adults, instead, acquire new notions without getting bored».

THE PRODUCERS – «There are many and excellent producers of meat, cheese… I love wandering among these products. I’ve already done this here, on multiple occasions, but I still don’t know all that Fico has to offer. As soon as the hotel will open [which should be soon] the ideal thing would be to take two days off and visit everything without haste, as if it were a museum. One can also choose a “light” experience, or wolf down a thousand nibbles, in a huge tour».

GUIDO’S SEA – Il mare di Guido is the fish restaurant next to Bartolini’s Cinque, run by the guys of Guido in Rimini: «Excellent food. They serve what I call “sea instinct”». The merit goes to Gianpaolo Raschi, brilliant chef.

CAPALDO AND HIS MEAT - «He rocks»: this is how Enrico Bartolini praised the producer of 100% Piedmontese meat from the Langhe, who has his space inside Fico. «I met him a long time ago, I was with Franco Cazzamali at Le Robinie [the first restaurant where Bartolini was chef, in Oltrepo Pavese]. Sergio Capaldo is the kind of guy who can offer high quality in big quantities too, if he sets his mind to do it».

PEZZANI’S CURED MEAT - «Angelo Capitelli, the guy who makes San Giovanni cooked prosciutto, a nice product, introduced me to Massimo Pezzani of Antica Ardenga a while ago. Massimo is a professional: when I bought the farm in Tuscany, I was thinking of breeding pigs, so I asked his advice. He put me off just by showing me the great job he’s doing. He has the perfect palate».

BONAT’S PARMIGIANO REGGIANO – At the Parmigiano Reggiano stand, you can find cheese made by Bonat, «I tasted it, even the one matured at length: he’s one of the few whose Parmigiano is guaranteed to have a flavour that doesn’t fade in time; in fact its flavour evolves, it becomes something different».

RULIANO’S PROSCIUTTO CRUDO - «Ruliano makes remarkable prosciuttos, and I also like the partnership he launched with Heinz Beck». In Rome the German chef studied a few dishes he presents at Ruliano’s stand at Fico, obviously made with prosciutto crudo Ruliano. Worth tasting.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS BY BARTOLINI - «Pasquale Torrente’s fried food and the space, in the area dedicated to oil, with Roi: their focaccia with crescenza is so delicious!», of course made with their oil from Liguria.

IN CONCLUSION… - «Even close to the registers, in the most commercial area, I find lots of stimuli I cannot resist. There’s always something attractive, like Fico t-shirts, which I bought. I can’t do without them!».

A FINAL NOTE - «In Italy we’re very good at making quality in small quantities; when we have to do with large sites, we can’t keep up. This is an attempt to deal with this problem». Let’s support it, says Bartolini.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Carlo Mangio

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