32 via Porredo - Fosdinovo (Massa Carrara)
tel. +39 333 1849263
Officine del Cibo
181 via Brigata Partigiana Muccini Sarzana (La Spezia)
tel. +39 393 9584694
At one point, Giacomo Devoto could have been luckier. He opened gourmet restaurant Locanda de Banchieri - in a nice countryside estate overlooking Val di Magra from a sort of natural terrace, with a view of the sea in the distance – on Saturday 7th March 2020. The following day the pandemic lockdown started. Hence destiny lengthened the time necessary for his definitive standing out. But Devoto held on tight and followed his road: after all, he is not afraid of challenges.
Born near Sarzana in 1981, he is a pupil of Angelo Paracucchi and of course this had to be the case given where we are: Fosdinovo, a village in Tuscany but on the border with Liguria, and Sarzana is only a stone’s throw away. And yet his training at Locanda dell’Angelo, between ‘98 and ’99, hence only a few years before the famous chef passed away, didn’t end in the best possible way: «His sous chef basically advised me to change career». Devoto however did not give up, and instead he changed area. In fact, he changed perspective: «Little over 20-years-old, I bought a lodge on the ski slopes of Champoluc, Belvedere, 2’400 metres in Val d’Aosta. It had 3 hectares of land, and every weekend around 14K people arrived with the cable car». He adapted his style, «I made very simple dishes, polenta and sausage, or burgers, 400 guests per day. Then, on special nights, I also offered a sort of fine dining».
The business was good, the mood less so. «In 2009 I realised I wasn’t very happy. My mum, an excellent gourmet [she’s Maria Candida Gentile, world renown Italian maître parfumier] suggested I stop, and tested with her some restaurant in Modena. I said no, I had too much work to do. She insisted again, three years later, in 2012. That’s when I dined at Massimo Bottura’s, and I cried».
Being used to a pop dimension of cuisine, he built his redemption in two steps. Locanda de Banchieri, with its fine dining offer, arrived later. First, he focused on the most pop food of all: pizza. In 2014 he opened Officine del Cibo in Sarzana: excellent pizza, dough studied in detail, attention to topping worthy of a chef. Here his right arm and alter ego with the dough is a great professional, Gianmarco Ferrandi, born in 1990 and from Sarzana. Of him, Devoto says: «He joins determination and stubbornness, precision and attention to detail. A perfect "team man", very passionate».
In both establishments, the two present the culinary – and hence cultural – identity of Lunezia, «which is part Liguria, part Tuscany and part Emilia too; it’s heart is in the Apennines and down to the sea». They do so in an intelligent and culinarily excellent way. Devoto and Ferrandi have a natural talent and the capacity of handling flavours that are much above average; they manage to give a strong contemporary approach in both fields, while respecting tradition. They know, in other words, how to be creative and build a complex and fascinating architecture with the bricks of flavour.
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
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All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani
From the top left corner, clockwise: Juan Camilo Quintero Merchan, Michele Lazzarini, Gianmarco Ferrandi, Giacomo Devoto and Dario Pandolfo