The kitchen at Enoteca Pinchiorri fully at work: we only stole a moment from Alessando Della Tommasina and Riccardo Monco, to take this photo
There’s a common and old short circuit of understanding – a sort of preceptive sliding! – of what Enoteca Pinchiorri really is today.
For sure, it’s a place overloaded with glory and history: established as "Enoteca Nazionale" in 1972, exactly half a century ago (we wrote about it here), almost a lifetime ago, and endless time, compared to today’s rhythms. Of course: it’s the most long-lived three starred restaurant in Italy, with the three macarons having arrived already in 1993 (Dal Pescatore reached the same goal only three years later), and then of course with the pause between 1995 and 2003 but it is in Florence that we can find the most ancient experience of excellence at those standards. It’s also sure it’s a place with a classic charm, in the 18th century Palazzo Jacometti-Ciofi: it has the almost sacred allure of the temple of food and wine, the elegant look of a noblewoman, the charm of a historic maison, with patron Giorgio Pinchiorri who looks like a whimsical lord from the past when he welcomes guests, and director Alessandro Tomberli who directs with delicateness and careful irony, a sort of old-style master of ceremony, with crystal clear class. There’s also the fact that the leading chef has been directing for almost three decades, crazy stuff; and there are the tens of thousands of bottles that rest in its guts for who knows how long... everything, in other words, recalls the idea of a place that is always coherent to itself, timeless, and hence inevitably out of the ordinary; faithful to a glorious past that they want to preserve, like the Orient Express, like Nice in the Belle Époque or the Grand Tour d'Italie.
The cellar (no: a small part of the cellar)
The dining room
After that we discover that the cuisine of Riccardo Monco and Alessandro Della Tommasina is fresh, contemporary, dynamic, authorial, brilliant, inventive rather than creative. In the sense that it’s not experimental but it’s precise, based on constant and tested research, that is to say sound in its being innovative as it’s the result of a long sedimentation of ideas, from the "dirty work" in the lab behind the scenes. There’s a sense of respect so big towards the establishment that it suggests the chefs a further effort, almost as if there were official "dish worthy of Enoteca Pinchiorri" and "dish not worthy of Enoteca Pinchiorri" stamps that cuts the legs to recipes that might be excellent, and yet do not fully reach the standards. As a consequence, the offer is not trendy, in the sense that it doesn’t chase trends, but for sure it is free of the ephemeral and of shortcuts. And it tries to be always more inclusive to reach the younger generations.
And here is the reprimand we must make, because it’s really an element in which Monco and Della Tommasina are not really contemporary (we told them in person, mind you). That is: they are too honest, with themselves and with others. Too much at work in the kitchen, and hence away from the spotlight. Too dedicated to the cause – almost in love! – to place themselves above the brand, for instance when they explain: «We’re in a restaurant called Enoteca Pinchiorri. The cuisine must not create difficulties for the cellar», as if to say that they’re not joking and there are no prima donnas. The place requires seriousness, all this while they are smiling friendly, the kind of people you’d like to bring with you on holiday.
And hence they have never wanted to impose a signature dish, which is an easy road to take in terms of communication, «because we always like to change, based on the product, the season, or just the taste of a client», which is a good paradox that reveals a lot. The restaurant has an undeserved fame of being a little static when in fact it’s everchanging. Enoteca has a natural storytelling, practically incorporated, hence Monco and Della Tommasina do almost without it, by passing themselves, «instead you should convey the reality of your recipes» we felt like recommending.
Riccardo Monco and, giving his back, Alessandro Tomberli
It's basically impossible to criticise them. The technique is excellent. The rich dishes are truly rich as in their intentions; and the more delicate ones are simply masterful.
And now our dinner, with photos from Tanio Liotta.
Puff pastry with chickpeas, black pepper and evo oil
Porcini mushrooms frittata, mayonnaise and fresh raw porcini mushrooms
Savoury torrone nougat
Spelt tartlet with beetroot gel
Kiwi and cucumber jelly with bay leaf powder
Burnt onion coins and tamarind cream
Cuttlefish tripe marinated in 24-month Parmgiano milk, fermented lemon powder
From the cupboard to the vegetable garden: vegetable giardiniera with fresh and raw vegetables
Beetroot pizza (in sauce and sliced), garlic, oil, salt, fried capers and sedum telepium
Almond soup, lobster marinated with juniper, bergamot scented aubergines, celline olives, fake olives of concentraded lobster
Roasted- not boiled burnt wheat ravioli filled with endive and mascarpone, mousse of smoked herring, bottarga
"Vignaiole" snails cooked in a pot with herbs, spicy avocado flakes, mangetout and coconut sauce, fake leaf of burnt onion
Steamed lettuce, caramelised cream of garlic and truffle chips
Spaghettone with pistachio cream, ricotta salata flakes, chamomile gel, Tuscan pesto
Almost fried pigeon, cooked half in tempura, half barbecued, vermouth cherries, steamed aubergines, cream of sunflower seeds
Caramelised pineapple, Jasmin tea gel, ginger soda
Raspberry meringue, rose gel
72% dark chocolate egg, yolk of passion fruit, passion fruit sorbet with chocolate cream, chocolate cake, aromatised extract of tonka bean
Peaches and almonds, a game of textures: sphere, cold cream and grains of almond, marinated peach, in sphere and in soft meringue
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera
journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. Identità Golose's editor in chief
Josep Roca and Alessandro Tomberli participated in the 16th edition of Identità Milano, within Identità di Sala: here with the classic photo with host Federico De Cesare Viola (all photos from Brambilla Serrani)