Canneto sull'Oglio (Mantova)
Antonio Santini is the unquestioned father of dining service in Italy. His is the most recurrent name among the young professionals who are trying to reanimate, mouth to mouth, the civilization of the dining room, so neglected and so unanimously lamented – the relative pre-obit has been ready for decades, in the drawers of any gastronomic magazine’s editorial offices. The merit is of his aplomb and his extraordinary humanity, capable of crowning the last of his guests with a relaxed solemnity worthy of Buckingham Palace, sitting at the tables, round as a dervish dance and as distant as satellites around the sun of the kitchen. So much so that the amazing success of Dal Pescatore, the best restaurant in the world according to Paul Bocuse, must be given to him as much as to his very sweet Nadia and to all the members of his family. The cellular exchange of tastes and gestures follows the peremptory track of genetics, softly adapting itself to contemporaneity with the same organic rhythms of the trees beyond the windows, and the silver fish that dart in the river.
After all, Antonio grew up in the family restaurant but was also weaned to escapades gourmandes by his mum and dad. And the following flavourful peregrinations with Nadia were, and remain, an essential chance to wheedle secrets, study evolutions, keep up-to-date. Even Linea Italia, the movement he founded in 1980 together with Franco Colombani and many colleagues in the dining room, served him to cultivate a healthy emulation in hospitality. Until the fine-tuning, one step at the time, of a personal style, always exposed to the guests’ feedback. The unforgettable ones? Pinchiorri, Marchesi, Cipriani, places where the directors could see through the walls. And, abroad, many Italian names, from Silvano Giraldin of Gavroche to Benito Savarin of Le Cirque, because our fellow countrymen are a big hit thanks to the art of smiling and to their natural empathy.
Grandson of the founders of the restaurant (initially called “Pesce e vino”), Antonio Santini, born in 1953, met his wife Nadia, acclaimed chef of Dal Pescatore, at university. Their wedding, in 1974, was followed by a honeymoon that was also a “school trip” in the great French maisons, something that was essential for the evolution towards the lightening and aesthetics of a cuisine that was strongly anchored to territory and its heritage. Tri-starred since 1996, the Santini’s are today sided by sons Alberto and Giovanni, by mother Bruna and daughter-in-law Valentina.
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
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PACCHERI ALLA VITTORIO AND THE SCARPETTA (SCOOPING THE SAUCE) - 'There are still customers who are almost intimidated at the end, some shyly asking: "But can we scoop the sauce? Really? Is that allowed?' Of course it is!" says Chicco Cerea
Nadia and Giovanni Santini, generations alongside in the kitchen of Dal Pescatore, in Runate, Canneto sull'Oglio (Mantua)
A souvenir photo in Rome for the presentation of the first edition of PASS, the very first guide dedicated to "the protagonists of hospitality in the Italian restaurant scene" curated by association Noi di Sala and published by Giunti. Left, behind the bookstand, there’s president Marco Reitano while he pridefully holds a copy.