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Umami, pleasure according to Borruso

The more 35 year-old Antonio follows his native Naples, the more he becomes rooted into the Alps. Since September, he’s in Bormio

Around eight years ago, Stefano Masanti, chef-patron of Cantinone in Madesimo, invited me to hold a conference in Sondrio, trying to analyse the restaurant scene in Valtellina and Valchiavenna. Were that to happen today, I would not be as negative as I was then. Some new and successful restaurants were born and have grown since. I’ve just dined in one of them. Some dishes I already knew, some I didn’t. For sure, the context in which Antonio Borruso cooks has changed.

This Neapolitan chef who turned 35 in March, with two children and a wife, Antonella, who helps him in the dining room, was already flying high in the province of Sondrio, but he was doing so in Passo dell’Aprica, between Sondrio and Brescia. Seven years of work, a star at Gimmy’s, but also a group of potential clients that was hardly stimulating and seasons that were too short. In the long run, it was a cage.

And then there was that number he chose for one of his two tasting menus. The first was, and still is, a tribute to the land that adopted him, Valtellin…Anto, interpreted, however, with the memories of someone from Naples. The second, instead, the first time sounds like a question mark, three numbers that have forcedly changed. It was once 868, it is now 904. The reason is easily explained: these are the km that separate, respectively, Aprica and Bormio from Naples. “The more I try to return to where I have my roots, the more I am engulfed in these mountains”.

It’s true: first his wife, then his father, now even his sister Bianca who’s in charge of pastry making at Umami inside hotel Eden, with brother Fabio, who’s also a cook, still in the shade of Vesuvius. Eden is a new, beautiful building with 26 rooms, designed by architect Antonio Citterio, business partner together with contractor Chicco Bracchi from Bormio and notary Franco Cederna from Sondrio. The latter, was the one to offer Borruso, last summer, the position as restaurant manager of this design hotel when the chef had already decided to stop in Sondrio, in the recently re-opened hotel Posta. Antonio basically changed his mind while he was already at the altar.

At Umami there are large windows through which one can see the mountain tops and the sky, and you’re almost surprised because the hotel is not up in the fields, but low, close to the bridge that takes to the ski tracks and the ski lift. The ceilings are tall, there’s lots of air and light, then when the night comes one can be even more concentrated on what is offered on the table.

Borruso continuously plays with the echoes of his land, the reality that surrounds him in this portion of the Alps and some very personal touches such as in his signature dish, extreme thanks to its definite acidity: Risotto with hibiscus, raw prawns and mozzarella, with the prawns in strong contrast with the territory strongly characterised by what is usually a herb tea and here becomes a unreserved challenge.

Hibiscus is also sprinkled over the spaghetti with oil, garlic, chilli pepper and wild clams, a very known dish that becomes new at the same time. My dinner, however, began with a palette of flavours and aromas in which the chef also paid a tribute to his wife’s Apulia. In the fried and raw squid tagliatelle with red peppers, Apulian burrata and lemon sauce, on top of the burrata there’s the fried pasta that reminds one of ciceri e tria, a chickpea soup made with fresh pasta below, and fried pasta on top.

Borruso, an extremely versatile chef with brains that he knows how to use at best.

Ristorante Umami inside hotel Eden
Via Funivia 3
in Bormio (Sondrio)
Closing day: according to the season
Holidays: October and November
Average prices: starters 19 euros, first courses 19, main courses 25 and desserts 8
Tasting menu: 70 and 90 euros (wines not included)
Difficulty coefficient: high, research-focused cuisine

Cibi Divini

Restaurants from all the world told in Il Giornale by Paolo Marchi from February 1994 to the winter of 2011. And since the spring, for the readers


Paolo Marchi

born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.

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