piazza del Popolo, 14
73049 - Ruffano - Lecce
Among the millennials who have swept two inches of dust and rhetoric from the cuisine of Salento, there's Valentina Rizzo. She was born in 1989 and is self-trained except for her debt of gratitude for Paolo Lopriore and a 3-month-long stop in Edinburgh with plenty of fermentations. She has as many tattoos as the skin allows, with deep black eyes like a witch from a Nordic fairy-tale and the hot blood of a Mediterranean woman. And she's devoted to the kitchen like a girl from another generation. Cooking, once a game, has become a profession. This was when her mother Ada, patron at the family-run osteria, left her place in the kitchen and a big empty void in her heart. Valentina was 22. She then took the helm of the kitchen at Farmacia dei Sani (the restaurant) which paired with Farmacia dei Contenti, the cocktail bar. The family team of three has split the tasks: Roberto, the eldest sibling, looks after the dining room; Fabio, the second-born, works between tables and counter, dividing the shaker with mixologist Davide Angilè.
We're in Ruffano, in southern Salento, a miniscule group of houses surrounding the hamlet of Torrepaduli: tamburellofanatics know it as the hometown of pizzica a scherma. Valentina prefers the sabba in the kitchen, and spends her days freshening up the sourdough or with the jars in which her preserved Salento ferments. «All I know, I owe it to my grandmother and my mother Ada. As for the rigour, I learnt that from Lopriore. The curiosity of going beyond, I nourished it with the three months spent in Scotland at Ben Reade's Edinburgh Food Studio where I was infected by the adrenalin of research and experiments. It's from that experience that the Cunserva project sprouted, where the study of ancient methods of preservation is applied to the most authentic products from my homeland».
This is what Farmacia is made of in terms of food. Its history coincides with that of the Spaghetti with anchovy colatura, pistachios and lemon, a successful mix of sweetness, pungent sapidity and a touch of sourness to balance everything.
A journalist by profession, curious by vocation, she applies her attitude to investigative reports and food features. She's author for Repubblica, Gambero Rosso, Dispensa
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All the young stars awarded this week at the Triennale in Milano when presenting the Guida ai ristoranti di Identità Golose 2022, now online