Pass, the kings of the dining room have their guide

The first edition presented in Rome. The wish of Reitano from La Pergola: «Restaurants should no longer be chosen just because of the food»

16-10-2019
A souvenir photo in Rome for the presentation of t

A souvenir photo in Rome for the presentation of the first edition of PASS, the very first guide dedicated to "the protagonists of hospitality in the Italian restaurant scene" curated by association Noi di Sala and published by Giunti. Left, behind the bookstand, there’s president Marco Reitano while he pridefully holds a copy.

So much energy, last Monday in Rome, at the presentation of the first edition of the guide that Giunti dedicated “to the protagonists of hospitality in the Italian restaurant scene”. It has the same title as the name of the association that created it and wrote it, Noi di Sala – established in 2012 and presided by Marco Reitano from LaPergola in Rome. The presentation took place during Pass, the event organised by the same association of maîtres and sommeliers where pass, the border between kitchen and dining room, stands for Professionalism, Accoglienza (hospitality), Service, and Squadra (team).

While giving for granted that in every place the food is of high standards, the authors, who did a great teamwork, focused on those who take care of the service. Twenty regions, 159 establishments reviewed without points (and some surprising inclusions as well as surprising exclusions). In or out. And for every place, a page with the description of the place and of the person who directs the traffic among the tables, as well as two photos.

Alberto Santini, in the middle with a large crystal cup, the prize given to the best dining room in Italy, that of the Santini family at Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio, Mantua. With Santini jr. the council of Noi di Sala. To his right Davide Merlini, Rudy Travagli and Luca Boccoli; to his left, Marco Amato and Matteo Zappile, kneeling Alessandro Pipero

Alberto Santini, in the middle with a large crystal cup, the prize given to the best dining room in Italy, that of the Santini family at Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio, Mantua. With Santini jr. the council of Noi di Sala. To his right Davide MerliniRudy Travagli and Luca Boccoli; to his left, Marco Amato and Matteo Zappile, kneeling Alessandro Pipero

There’s more. The curators asked twenty critics, food experts and bloggers to express their ideas on a specific element. They asked twenty people, as many as Italy’s regions. I was on page 200, opening the chapter of Apulia. The topic: Don’t take oneself too seriously. This because I believe it’s important to work seriously, do a lot and appear often enough, when it’s really necessary, not always and without purpose.

And this idea is shared by those who direct Noi di Sala. The ideal waiter is not someone you notice, he’s a ghost who works for you. But this doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t shed light on their commitment. I don’t believe that one chooses a restaurant for the service, without considering the dishes in the menu. But once you know what you want to eat, among two similar places in terms of food, nobody will choose the one where they treat you worse. Unless they’re masochists.

Reitano on Monday was a picture of joy: «I’m not thrilled at all, not at all». An uproar: «This guide is born to give a public face to those who live and work for hours and hours in a restaurant, and often do not enjoy the same success of the others working in the kitchen. In many careers, like with football players and actors and actresses, there are icons that motivate the young generations and it’s the same in our case. It’s time for the best to set an example for those who are starting now». And in this sense, the first restaurant awarded for an impeccable service, a word that sounds almost reducing, of course had to be that of the Santini family, Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio, Mantua. The prize was given to Alberto Santini, who is inheriting the dining room service from his father Antonio, a living legend.

A handful of words, always from Reitano: «In time, people will choose a place depending on the experience, not the food». For sure, a bad coffee, an ill-served wine, the waiter paying more attention to chatting online with his girlfriend than to your table, ruin some excellent dishes, just like a skilled waiter will save mediocre food, seasoning it with nice words and sincere smiles.

For the director of this department at GiuntiMarco Bolasco, this is a historical moment: «The guide must be considered as a communication tool and its content is chosen because there will be a before and after, in terms of dining room.  We, as publishers, and they, as professionals, enjoy challenges and the dining room needs to be known and will make use of its peculiarities at a time that has stars and starlets in difficulty with a speculation bubble ready to explode. Not to mention that some have been pushing it a little too far, with an excessive way of showcasing chefs that does not shed real light on the restaurant industry».

Dining room service, I say it again, will be the real revolution and soon we will have to think that it’s not made only of patrons, maîtres, sommeliers and waiters. There’s also clients and plenty of other people who should be educated to understanding high quality contemporary cuisine.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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In sala

The public side of a restaurant seen by its protagonists: maître, restaurant managers, waiters