Andrea Menichetti

Da Caino

 via della Chiesa, 4 
 Montemerano (Grosseto)
T. +39.0564.602817

Many claim that the great Italian cuisine has a feminine DNA, recently evolved in a professional and male perspective; but there are also those who can demonstrate this, with facts and recipes, as in the case of Andrea Menichetti, the worthy heir of an exceptional couple, Valeria Piccini and Maurizio Menichetti, founders of the Da Caino restaurant in Montemerano.

The roots of this restaurant are deep in time: Maurizio is the son of Carisio, also known as Caino, a marble quarryman who produced wine too («it was he who transferred this passion onto me», he says, now an expert sommelier and cellar-manager), and of a countryside cook, Angela, the descendant of a line of semi-professional cooks who were called during country festivals to prepare sheets of pasta. In 1971 she opened an inn entitled to her husband, offering a few local specialties. She was Valeria’s first teacher – the latter had met Maurizio in school and received from him, as a pledge of love, a copy of the Artusi recipe book. The great chef, in turn, had learnt from her parents the love for the produce of the earth and for tradition: «They were once cheese producers too: how could I forget the scents of cheese production? Those who have never experienced such tastes, could never repeat them». Having sided her mother-in-law at the stove, in the manner of a local Eugénie Brazier, Valeria soon inserted this robust background on a base of curiosity, talent and openness that led her to attain the two Michelin stars despite being totally self-trained.

After this lengthy flashback we can finally introduce Andrea, class of 1981, who declares himself as his mother Valeria’s apprentice. Their dishes harmoniously go side by side on the menu; and during the service the pair works next to each other in the small kitchen. The enthusiasm of young chef Andrea has continued his mother’s technological openness with dishes that are now classics, such as Ravioli ripieni di olio addensato al macrì (ravioli filled with thickened oil), for which he obtained an important international award for the use of olive oil in the recipe (the extra virgin olive oil is the one produced by Valeria’s father, Enzo Piccini: only ripe olives and no rakes). «Our style is basically the same, because she was the one who trained me: highest respect for raw materials and tradition, mixing everything with a touch of technique here and there, to lighten some recipes, but only as long as the tastes keep their nature», he says. A living tradition at the top of the Italian restaurant scene.

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Alessandra Meldolesi

Umbra di Perugia con residenza a Bologna, è giornalista e scrittrice di cucina. Tra i numeri volumi tradotti e curati, spicca "6, autoritratto della Cucina Italiana d’Avanguardia" per Cucina & Vini