Cera: Manitoba in London then...

In the British capital with a place with Roberta Pezzella. Without forgetting Venice

30-08-2016

Lionello Cera is on holiday, for a week at Forte Village, but who knows if he really manages to stop work or if he’s always on the phone with London. He’s opened Manitoba in the British capital. He calls it “his baby”. First experience abroad for Lionello. In fact the very first outside the walls of his Osteria with 2 Michelin stars.

Lionello Cera is on holiday, for a week at Forte Village, but who knows if he really manages to stop work or if he’s always on the phone with London. He’s opened Manitoba in the British capital. He calls it “his baby”. First experience abroad for Lionello. In fact the very first outside the walls of his Osteria with 2 Michelin stars.

The chef explains to Identità Golose: «It all started as a game. I was meant just to give advice on the menu, and then I found myself organising a bit everything. I’m thrilled because, I admit, leaving routine allows you to widen your vision. I always thought, I was really sure of this, that I wasn’t the right person for projects such as this. It wasn’t the right thing for me, I know myself. But when you start, you get carried away. It’s my job. I like it, it’s fun».

«Manitoba is a nice challenge – he adds - Michele and Nicola Buono, that is to say the owners, are great guys. We get along very well. They’re not from this industry and count on me, and, most importantly, they listen to my advice, which is not granted. Owners often cannot create this harmony, which I’ve managed to create with them».

Lionello Cera is full of enthusiasm. In his eyes there’s always a striking energy. His professionalism is extraordinary. Manitoba is in New Oxford Street, in Central London, a bistro bar and tigelleria with a very Italian concept. Products are partly sourced locally, partly imported from Italy: «It will be a bistro with that extra oomph, I’m sure – says Cera – I’ve visited some places in London and I must say the food is very good. For Manitoba, I designed a menu that could be immediately recognisable and understood: few complications, just a few gourmet ideas, such as the carbonara pasta with garlic aromatised with Pecorino and dehydrated pancetta... And then great attention to design: for instance, the fish soup will be served in a vase».

«In the first month we’ll need to check costs and understand how the London market reacts to this new format. As for me – continues Lionello – I tried to meet the tastes of this city without forsaking my training. Therefore the fried fish is a little crispier because this is how they like in London, by breading fish with two types of flour. The octopus salad will have onion in different textures. Tigelle will of course have a main role, with traditional and more creative fillings. And then there will be the baking tin pizza made by Roberta Pezzella!».

She’s Manitoba’s other ace in the hole. Roberta Pezzella, one of the best chefs, bakers and pastry chefs, after working with Heinz Beck followed Gabriele Bonci’s ambitious project and then many other projects too. And now there’s Cera in London.

«What a professional! – he says – I didn’t know her. I had hear about her and called her in January for a consultancy at Osteria. I was making bread, which was good, but I wanted something extra. I wanted a bread that would go with oil, an extravagant savoury biscuit, and most of all a grissino that didn’t leave crumbs. She spent a week at my restaurant and created a special project. I now serve a ciabatta and a loaf. I must say that Roberta’s professionalism struck me. Finding someone as serious and focused as her is not easy. She’s a great worker, she never improvises: she tries and tries again, continually. Before baking bread, she must understand the oven. I was struck by her technique and sensitivity».

London, indeed, but there’s more. In Lionello Cera’s mind there’s also the Venetian capital.

«In February I deluded myself. I thought I could open something in Venice. I worked hard with Simonetta [his wife] at a project handed by Enrico Bartolini, whom I had contacted for a consultancy. We’re close friends, I think of him highly: then for various reasons I stepped back and I’m happy that he was the one to continue with this project. He’s brilliant. Venice is still a long-cherished dream: it looked as if it was to finally come true, but things went differently. Oh well, the right moment will come. I’m sure it will, Venice is my home!».


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