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04-06-2023

Ducasse loves Italy more than many Italians

Entrepreneur Alfredo Romeo has entrusted his new five-star luxury hotel to France's most award-winning chef, who adores our products. In October he will open in Rome: 'I’d like to make pasta of the finest quality'. The director will be Umberto Giraudo

Left to right, Alain Ducasse posing in front of th

Left to right, Alain Ducasse posing in front of the Comandante's pass, Stéphane Petit, who will lead the Ristorante Alain Ducasse in Rome, and Salvatore Bianco, the Comandante's executive. All photos from Paolo Marchi

Rendezvous in Rome in less than five months. On the second weekend of October, on the 7th and 8th, Alfredo Romeo will open the second gem of his 5-star luxury jewellery collection, after Naples. And he will not stop until he has dropped a poker by the end of 2025. After Naples and Rome, there will be Massa Lubrense, then apparently Capri, then a question mark. For sure, however, both in Via di Ripetta, near Piazza del Popolo, and just beyond Sorrento, the restaurant will be run by Alain Ducasse who, by signing the Ristorante Alain Ducasse, returns to the country he loves, if not more, at least as much as France: Italy.

Souvenir photo at the end of the conference at Romeo in Naples. Left to right, Alain Ducasse, Stéphane Petit, Alfredo Romeo and Salvatore Bianco

Souvenir photo at the end of the conference at Romeo in Naples. Left to right, Alain Ducasse, Stéphane Petit, Alfredo Romeo and Salvatore Bianco

In this sense, it was a pleasure to attend the Roman preview in mid-May in Naples because, in the city of the Colosseum, work is still in progress. The pleasure was double because, after so many words, came real morsels, a tasting menu conceived and created by the host executive chef, Salvatore Bianco, and the pupil that Ducasse chose for Rome, Stéphane Petit, a thirty-year-old from Lyon who has been preparing for his new job for three months and will continue to do so until early autumn because the hope is to open on the weekend of 7/8 October.

Stéphane Petit, next chef at Hotel Romeo in Rome, proposed seared Bassano white asparagus, shellfish and sea herbs

Stéphane Petit, next chef at Hotel Romeo in Rome, proposed seared Bassano white asparagus, shellfish and sea herbs

Rendezvous near Piazza del Popolo, in Palazzo Capponi, redesigned by the Zaha Hadid studio in the sign of beauty, elegance, history and art, a thread that unites all the past, present and future establishments of Alfredo Romeo. Note to self: Romeo Napoli came out of the pencil of Kenzo Tange and Massa Lubrense will come out of that of Kengo Kuma. They also hold unique pieces of modern and contemporary art. And the patron of this super-luxury hotel that winks at the world of the super-rich, could not fail to turn to a restaurant brand that is full of French grandeur and more than twenty stars, such as Monsieur Ducasse. People this rich don’t like wasting time, they want everything and at once, whims included. Ducasse! And you know who and what you are referring to.

Mullet and sea mayo, a dish by Salvatore Bianco, chef at Comandante, the restaurant of Hotel Romeo in Naples

Mullet and sea mayo, a dish by Salvatore Bianco, chef at Comandante, the restaurant of Hotel Romeo in Naples

So much for those who thought the relationship between Italy and the Frenchman had ended when he left the Moretti family's Andana in Castiglione della Pescaia (Grosseto) in 2016. He had run Trattoria Toscana, his vision of an osteria in Maremma, one star yes but certainly not a luxurious restaurant. Not that he wasn't interested, but why immerse himself in a hostile country that loves and hates French cuisine in equal measure?

Basilicata strawberries au naturel, black lemon dressing, buffalo milk frost, an unexpected snowfall in May thanks to Stéphane Petit

Basilicata strawberries au naturel, black lemon dressing, buffalo milk frost, an unexpected snowfall in May thanks to Stéphane Petit

"I'm not going to open a gourmet restaurant in Italy because you still can't agree among yourselves on the cooking times for pasta, so who knows what you would say about mine”.

The infamous al dente that the world struggles to understand. And now? “Now never say never”. Here he is again, and with a firm intention to measure himself against the universe of dry pasta, as Romeo anticipates, reading a passage from Una vita di giusto e di passioni (A Life of Fair and Passion), by Ducasse for Solferino Libri: “Two years ago, in Corleone, I found a very old pasta-making machine. No one thought it would ever work again. Thanks to the goldsmiths who disassembled and reassembled it with great patience, today it works. With this machine I would like to create a unique pasta: it is a promise, a dream for tomorrow, an Italian dream'. Made by a Frenchman.

The most Italian end to a tasty evening: Spaghetti di mezzanotte (at midnight). Ducasse loves them. Photo Paolo Marchi

The most Italian end to a tasty evening: Spaghetti di mezzanotte (at midnight). Ducasse loves them. Photo Paolo Marchi

Ducasse, however, is an anomalous cousin of ours. Like several of his compatriots, he loves us but he shows it, he does not keep it to himself so much that in terms of cuisine and product at the Naples meeting he showed that he values our heritage more than many Italian chefs.

Umberto Guiraudo and Alain Ducasse

Umberto Guiraudo and Alain Ducasse

And from October at Romeo in the capital he will offer a menu with a transalpine structure, but with Italian ingredients.

An important detail: after some twenty years in Monte Mario, between La Pergola and the Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria, Umberto Giraudo will take the reins of Romeo Roma in the sign of the Frenchman. Their paths will cross again. For the Italian, a return to the past but at a higher professional level. In fact, he had already worked for Ducasse in the 1990s for eight years. As those directly involved said: the best plus the best makes the best.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Affari di Gola di Paolo Marchi

A mouth watering page, published every Sunday in Il Giornale from November 1999 to the autumn of 2010. Stories and personalities that continue to live in this website

by

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.
blog www.paolomarchi.it
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