The Italian columns at Mirazur

The language spoken the most in Mauro Colagreco’s restaurant is Italian. Presenting protagonists and dishes in the tasting menu

26-04-2017

Antonio Buono (30, from Naples) and Davide Garavaglia (28, Milanese). They're respectively co-chef and saucier at Mirazur in Mentone, the restaurant of Argentinian Mauro Colagreco, at number 4 in the World's 50Best 2017, 2 Michelin stars. The pastry chef is Roberta Gesualdo, 32 from Rome

Photogallery

The Carte Blanche tasting menu at Mirazur starts with 8 small tastings that you can enjoy downstairs, close to the kitchen. Tasting #1: Carrot cooked in lime with carrot juice and coriander
Tasting #2: Beetroot with goat cheese
Tasting #3: Leaves from the vegetable garden (in our case, mustard, mizuna, dandelion, rocket...). You must dip them into a small plate with artisanal cream from Cuneo
Tasting #4: Anchovies with lemon confit

Driiiin. «Hallo Antonio, how are you? Is the service ok? How about the prices? Did you include some new dishes in the menu?». The person calling is Mauro Colagreco and on this side of the telephone there’s the Italian co-chef at Mirazur in Mentone, the fourth restaurant in the world (and first in France) according to the latest 50Best.

The long distance call from the Argentinian patron-chef is more and more frequent as the number of parallel restaurant increases. Some already open: in China (Unico in Shanghai and Le Siècle in Nanchang), in Paris (Brasserie Grandcoeur) and in the mother country (Carne Hamburgesas in Buenos Aires and in La Plata). Some soon to be opened: a restaurant inside the airport of Nice (ready in 2018) and one in the Casino in Mentone.

This absence is painless, as there’s a team, looking over the flagship restaurant on the French-Ligurian border, where most components speak Italian. Key people: the co-chef answering the phone, Neapolitan Antonio Buono, the silent alter ego of Colagreco; Milanese saucier Davide Garavaglia and pastry chef Roberta Gesualdo. Plus a whole series of chef de partie and dining room commis that makes the “Italy” sign that can be seen from the large windows relais&chateaux seem even closer.

At Mirazur Italian is spoken in the dining room too: in the photo by Matteo Carassale, Sara Piantoni from Bordighera (instagram/restaurantmirazur)

At Mirazur Italian is spoken in the dining room too: in the photo by Matteo CarassaleSara Piantoni from Bordighera (instagram/restaurantmirazur)

Despite directing operations in absentia, people only know the nomen omen of Buono («I always preferred to put words into action», he warns us too). We try to hunt him down: «I worked close to home for a while, in Cava de’ Tirreni, at Pappacarbone. Then I spent a long time at Santi Santamaria’s Can Fabes when Xavier Pellicer was the chef [he then moved to Abac and is now at Céleri in Barcelona]. We were making Santi’s traditional cuisine as well as a few modern dishes».

He first arrived at Mirazur in 2012: «The time had come for some experience in France. I dined here with journalist Enzo Caldarelli. I immediately found Colagreco’s style striking: vegetables, fruit, proteins. I asked him to work here». Five years later, he looks at the co-chef stripes. Every morning he crosses the border and goes to the market in Ventimiglia, a precious source of peas, leeks and shallots that he adds to the vegetables from the property’s kitchen garden. And every day he organises the brigade and supervises each cooking procedure, strictly classic: «Here we only cook the ancienne way, no vacuum cooking».

Two new openings coming up for Mauro Colagreco: at the airport in Nice and inside the Casino in Mentone

Two new openings coming up for Mauro Colagreco: at the airport in Nice and inside the Casino in Mentone

With him there’s friend and colleague Davide Garavaglia from Corbetta, previously working with Davide Oldani and Pierre Gagnaire (Sketch in London) and now in charge of all the sauces at Mirazur at only 28: he’s the one who takes care of the sauce au caviar for the Crapaudine Beetroot, currently the most famous dish in the menu.

«In the past few years», continues Buono, «our cooking has changed a lot in terms of technique and flavour. Every time the chef returns from his travels, he makes us discover unseen products, new flavours. He has an excellent, well-trained palate». This is why, for instance, one can notice an increasingly stronger Asian touch in the menu. «We’ve learnt a lot from the four-handed dinners organised last year to celebrate the restaurant’s tenth anniversary. For instance, from Rene Redzepi’s brigade we understood what a terrific organisation in the kitchen is like».

It’s no bed of roses, though: «The pressure is always very high, much more than in Italy, and much higher recently. Everyone arrives with the highest expectations. And of course not everyone will like you: those who love classic French restaurants often don’t appreciate our cooking. But we know that it’s a bit like in Naples: if you like thin pizza, it’s not likely you’ll fancy pizza gruossa». 

Mirazur
Avenue Aristide Briand, 30
Mentone, France
+33.(0)4.92418686
Closed on Monday and Tuesday; never in August.
Only tasting menus: Decouverte (3 courses, 65 euros), Inspiration (110 euros), Carte Blanche (160 euros), Signature (210).

See also
Colagreco: my 10 years of freedom by Carlo Passera
Mirazur on the Guida di Identità Golose by Tokyo Cervigni


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Photogallery

The Carte Blanche tasting menu at Mirazur starts with 8 small tastings that you can enjoy downstairs, close to the kitchen. Tasting #1: Carrot cooked in lime with carrot juice and coriander
Tasting #2: Beetroot with goat cheese
Tasting #3: Leaves from the vegetable garden (in our case, mustard, mizuna, dandelion, rocket...). You must dip them into a small plate with artisanal cream from Cuneo
Tasting #4: Anchovies with lemon confit
Tasting #5: Macaroons with shiitake mushrooms and blood sausage and green apple
Tasting #6: Scorzonera truffle grissini with pork jowl
Tasting #7: "Snails" made with celeriac filled with parsley and cypress cream
Tasting #8: Chicken skin with entrails, chicken consommé and white miso. Once the "tapas" are over, we move to the top floor
The bread arrives with an ode by Pablo Neruda
Gillardeau oyster with a cream of shallot and Williams pear
Under the beetroot, crab emietté, red prawns from Sanremo and hibiscus
Green: peas from our vegetable garden, kiwi and fennel