Paolo Morresi: how to make excellent Italian food in Taipei

In Taiwan’s capital, Il Mercato charms thanks to its young chef from Abruzzo. Trust Donato Marzolla

22-02-2019 | 12:00
Paolo Morresi

Paolo Morresi by the pass at Il Mercato, Italian fine dining restaurant in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan

«Hi Carlo. I’m in Taipei for a few months and I wanted to tell you that there’s a very good chef from Abruzzo here. He makes excellent Italian food». Those in our profession are always alert when news like this come; especially if it’s from a professional like Donato Marzolla (in 2014 Guida di Identità Golose chose him as Dining Room Manager of the year).

Il Mercato

Il Mercato

The chef’s name is Paolo Morresi. He was born in 1976 in Giulianova. He’s in Taipei, at restaurant Il Mercato since October 2016. He had already been in Asia for a while, in Hong Kong; and before that in London. The typical case of Italian export-chef, one could say. His debut, however, was in Abruzzo. First catering school in Roccaraso, then he quickly learnt the ropes in the kitchens of some important Italian restaurants:Albereta in Erbusco in 1997-1998, in the days of Gualtiero Marchesi; then La Terrazza dell'Eden in Rome, with Enrico DerflingherRossellinis in Ravello, with Anthony Genovese; and Antica Osteria del Pontein Cassinetta di Lugagnano, with Ezio Santin. A remarkable growth that was abruptly interrupted in 2001, when Morresi had an accident: «Unfortunately I had an accident with my motorbike, almost three years of hospital and rehab... This slowed down my career very much. I was meant to go to Japan with Santin... But it didn’t stop my desire to learn more, and more».

Paolo Morresi, Donato Marzolla, Enrico Derflingher

Paolo Morresi, Donato Marzolla, Enrico Derflingher

Now the word goes to Donato Marzolla. He says: «Paolo is a special person, he’s almost from another era. We worked together in Ravello with Genovese, over twenty years ago. He was a lovely guy. Then, as often the case in this field, when you change job and focus on a different adventure, you loose touch with of a dear colleague. Luckily there are social networks and, almost by chance, after a very long time, Paolo’s friendship “appeared”. We immediately started to share experiences and common friends (like Pino Lavarra and Hong Kong)».

One thing led to another, «that’s how the offer that initially made me uneasy arrived: "Donato, would you come to Asia to work beside me in a beautiful Taiwanese enterprise?". I thought about it, and said yes. Time to prepare all the documents – it wasn’t very easy - and here I am in Taipei».

The brigade 

The brigade 

At Il MercatoMarzolla continues, «they’re working hard to reach significant goals, to satisfy clients from Taiwan and beyond. I immediately loved Paolo’s cuisine. It’s rich and colourful, full of subtle nuances. Soft and delicate flavours, but very neat. With him you can experience a kind of food that is gradually disappearing from Italian gourmet restaurants, which are becoming even too essential, in my opinion». As for some examples, Marzolla recommends tasting: Lobster, scallops and blueberries or Tortelli filled with prawns and tomato with courgettes, trumpet mushrooms and Parmigiano consommé, «which give a perfect idea of the chef’s passion».

Il nostro orto

Il nostro orto

Morresi says: «My cuisine is truly Italian, it focuses on flavours and encloses all the experience I’ve acquired over the years. I arrived in Asia with the idea of mixing, of discovering new ingredients, matching them with those I was already familiar with. Now I work mostly with Italian products, we import around 90% of our ingredients, starting from extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, cheese (firstly mozzarella)...».

Sushi all'Italiana

Sushi all'Italiana

Beefsteak tartare from New Zealand, seasoned with oil, salt, pepper, toasted seeds and shallot. Garnished with radish, egg sauce with truffle and tapioca brittle 

Beefsteak tartare from New Zealand, seasoned with oil, salt, pepper, toasted seeds and shallot. Garnished with radish, egg sauce with truffle and tapioca brittle 

At Il Mercato, which has also Enrico Derflingher and Giuseppe Vaccarini as consultants, Morresi presents a real tour of Italian flavours: «When clients arrive, we welcome them in the cocktail bar, for a drink paired with cheese and cured meat, which we explain in detail. Then they sit at the pass and I present three canapés – which can be puffed pastry with tomatoes, taggiashe olives and basil, cappuccino with porcini... –and in this case too, I explain the Italian products used. Finally, they go up to the first floor, where there’s the dining room, and can choose between three different menus. We started with this special offer five months ago and the results are great».

Spaghetto Cocco with sea urchins and gold leaf with chopped hazelnuts 

Spaghetto Cocco with sea urchins and gold leaf with chopped hazelnuts 

Octopus and abalone 

Octopus and abalone 

Sea bass with prawns, wrapped in courgettes and its broth, with air of sea bass 

Sea bass with prawns, wrapped in courgettes and its broth, with air of sea bass 

Morresi’s signature dishes include Ravioli filled with mozzarella and pesto with a balloon of mozzarellaHome-made cavatelli with Mediterranean sauce, with moscardini, Black angus wrapped in salt, smoked with thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leaves... «Neat flavours, tasty dishes with a wow factor that won’t allow guests to be bored».

Home-made cavatelli with Mediterranean sauce

Home-made cavatelli with Mediterranean sauce

Black angus wrapped in salt

Black angus wrapped in salt

Marzolla: «Paolo has travelled around the world and now seems to have finally settled in Asia, where he has also married Eva who – he confides – gives him a few tips on the most traditional Asian recipes». Taipei has a very dynamic food scene, restaurants offer food from all around the world. «Here our restaurant has a very high positioning and it is also the (Italian) flagship of the company. Now we must work harder and harder given our synergy and help Paolo in this difficult time of “changing of the menu”», he says. What a nice story!

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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