Esprì, natural cuisine is served

In Colonnella in the province of Teramo, chef Tommolini’s modernity: from vegan starters to organic meat

The entrance to Esprì in Colonnella (Teramo), a

The entrance to Esprì in Colonnella (Teramo), a "natural cuisine tavern" located in the first hilly village you encounter in Abruzzo, when arriving from the Marche, tel. +39.0861.70581. Since February 2010 the owners are Emanuela Tommolini and Fabio De Cristofaro, both 34 years old and authors of an original and convincing cuisine

Colonnella, the first hilly village in Abruzzo, when arriving from the Marche, having in Martinsicuro its alter-ego by the sea, for quite some time has had Patrizia Zenobi as its great interpreter of the local tradition, tel. +39.0861.70581. Putting behind us the Zero years, in the same village but in the historical centre, not in the countryside, on top of Ristorante Zenobi there’s now Esprì. The owners, Emanuela Tommolini and Fabio De Cristofaro, define it as a “natural cuisine tavern” reminding us of Pietro Leemann and his Natural High Cuisine whichcompletes its restaurant in Milan and where Emanuela, today a chef, learned the ropes just like Fabio first did in the dining room (to be precise) of Niko Romito’sReale.

Emanuela Tommolini and Fabio De Cristofaro

Emanuela Tommolini and Fabio De Cristofaro

Both 34 years old, they had quite a different education even though both their families had had something to do with food and cuisine. Her father used to be a cook, his is a nutritionist. Emanuela, however, studied communication sciences and Fabio psychology. The turning point arrived four years ago. They learnt about a European fund that was subsidizing young people to become entrepreneurs. They studied what was necessary to open a restaurant and the project was approved and thus financed. Fantastic, of course, but at that point it needed to be accomplished. They looked for the answer in Giulianova and found it in Colonnella. The opening was in February 2010. And it is extraordinarily modern.

There’s a nutritionist in the family and luckily they are not vegetarians – even though the menu includes some specifically vegan dishes next to others made with fish and meat. They are both omnivorous but vegetables are not simply side dishes. Their table makes everyone agree even though locally (but this happens all over Italy) when someone speaks of vegan or raw dishes, people goggle and many choose the alternative offered by the tasting menu (for 35 euros). Copied from the menu: “What’s best among local artisanal cheese and cured meat or Crudo su tela”. The latter, which literally means “raw on canvas” is in the menu for 8 euros and is thus explained: “A raw dish inspired by the colours of health”.

Crudo su tela

Crudo su tela

It will take some time before the majority of people will not consider a blasphemy, starting a dinner with a palette on which a curl of carrot and mint spaghetti, a fig, a cube of watermelon with yellow tomato and traditional balsamic vinegar are placed, together with a celery “bush” with a turmeric mayonnaise and a crown of apples, peaches and raspberry sauce. This is a starter full of nature and different flavours, though all clear and different. This was followed by a Courgette flower tempura filled with chickpeas and courgettes on couscous, Lime and ginger aromatised mackerel, Aubergine gnocchi with smoked ricotta, Spaghettoni Cavalieri with clams and salted mullet roe.

Together with dessert (Apricot cloud, crumble and yoghurt mousse), coffee and biscuits, it was 35 euros. In Milan this would be a bargain, but were they in Milan, their costs would be quite different, so this comparison doesn’t stand. In October they will reprise their cooking and wellbeing courses, at the beginning of November it will be the turn of the bread-making course held by Emma Graf from nearby Ripatransone (info Relais del Colle +39.0735.987003, 335.215859,

Osteria Esprì, natural cuisine
piazza Garibaldi
Colonnella (Teramo)
+39.0861.700013 e 347.9794327
Closed on Tuesdays. Open only in the evening
Average prices: starters 8 euros, first courses 10, main courses 15, desserts 6, bread and service 2
Tasting menu: 35/40 euros
Difficulty coefficient: good, careful natural cuisine


Cibi Divini

Restaurants from all the world told in Il Giornale by Paolo Marchi from February 1994 to the winter of 2011. And since the spring, for the readers