Niko Romito’s “Spatial” menu

The chef from Abruzzo brings the philosophy and dishes of Spazio, his format of accessible fine dining, to Identità Expo

Niko Romito, chef and patron of restaurant Reale i

Niko Romito, chef and patron of restaurant Reale in Casadonna (Castel di Sangro, L'Aquila), 3 Michelin stars. In 2014 the chef from Abruzzo, born in 1974, launched Spazio, a format of sleek fine dining which can now count on three restaurants in Rivisondoli, Rome and Milan. The staff comes from Niko Romito Formazione, and will be the protagonist of the Identità Expo S.Pellegrino menu from Wednesday 16 till Sunday 20th September (75 euros including wines, for reservations: expo@magentabureau.it and +39.02.62012701). Photo Brambilla/Serrani

From Wednesday 16th till Sunday 20th September Niko Romito will be at Identità Expo S.Pellegrino. He will not be there representing his hermitage in Casadonna, 3 Michelin stars and 850 metres above the sea level in Castel di Sangro (L’Aquila). Let’s say he will virtually bring three teams, those of the Spazio restaurants scattered around Italy in Rivisondoli (the old location of restaurant Reale), Rome (inside Eataly Ostiense) and Milan (Mercato del Duomo, in Piazza Duomo). This is the most interesting Italian accessible fine dining format to be seen in the last few years, supported by a continuous source represented by Niko Romito Formazione, the professional training and specialization school founded in 2011, offering different training programmes for aspiring cooks, restaurant professionals and simple amateurs.

The Spaziale menu which is to enrich our temporary restaurant, says the chef from Abruzzo, «Will be formed by very light dishes, which at the same time will comfort the palate. Essential solutions with excellent raw materials, leaving a very clean palate». Except for the Pork, these are all new ideas, which on the very same day will enrich the autumn menu of the three Spazio restaurants. Let’s discover them in detail together with the chef.

The kitchen staff of the first Spazio restaurant in Rivisondoli (L'Aquila), in the previous location of restaurant Reale

The kitchen staff of the first Spazio restaurant in Rivisondoli (L'Aquila), in the previous location of restaurant Reale

The entrée is a Soup, salted codfish and tomato (paired with Berlucchi’s Franciacorta Brut '61): «It’s a very effective work with fresh tomato, which is first steamed, then marinated for 12 hours with various herbs: tarragon, thyme, rosemary, marjoram… In this way it acquires strength, a sweetness matched by its natural acidity. The salted codfish is very simple: we steam it with garlic and oil». A traditional pairing that acquires a very contemporary twist.

Here’s the first course: Tagliatelle “in bianco” with pepper and mint (with Tenuta Cà Bolani’s Sauvignon Friuli Aquileia Doc 2014). «This concept is all based on candid colours. The tagliatelle are made with fresh-egg pasta, and seasoned with a white sauce made with water and mature cheese and adding some previously toasted pepper. It’s a sort of cacio e pepe without pecorino and with the final touch of fresh mint and lemon zest». A fresh, craveable and very Italian dish.

The Pork, almond and Mediterranean pesto (matched with Tenuta Rapitalà’s Sicilia Doc Nuhar 2012) has already caught the attention of everyone, ever since the opening of Spazio Milano in June: «Part of the pork is cooked at low temperature, which respects the meat’s protein. In a second phase, it is cooked in the oven and completely dried. It is then seasoned with an almond béchamel (water and almonds) and a pesto made with thyme, basil and dried tomatoes». Absolute lightness.

Niko Romito with Oscar Farinetti during the opening of the second Spazio at Eataly Roma, in November 2014

Niko Romito with Oscar Farinetti during the opening of the second Spazio at Eataly Roma, in November 2014

Finally, the dessert will be a Crepe au gratin with honey and lemon (with Cocktail Bonaventura Maschio Honey Lemon), a memory from the past: «We’ve filled it with a classic custard made with milk, eggs, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest. On top, we add millefiori honey from Casadonna [Mieli Thun takes care of it] and burn it with a torch, as in a crème brûlée. There are bitter, sweet and citric notes and the roundness of the cream. It is a very indulgent dessert, the opposite of what we’re doing at Casadonna».

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Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes. 
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