Frank Rizzuti

Frank Rizzuti – Cucina del Sud

largo Pasquale Uva

The Italian restaurant scene had stopped at Eboli, before Francesco Rizzuti took it by the hand and made it feel at home, leaving the equation of a gastronomic cuisine from Basilicata under the silverware, joining the axis of terroir with the x-axis of contemporaneity, in an orthogonality worthy of Francis Bacon’s cages, from which his talent flipped its wings, with the airy flash of a wild bird.

Bashful, gentle, serious, he has the credit for an originality which is, at the same time, both innate and peculiar; his radical attitude oozes earth and rigorousness. He’s on the alert to foresee the traps on the belvedere of regional cuisine, full of chefs and recipes killed by an out-of-place paw. In other words, the misunderstanding of tradition of which Camporesi talked (“all that is served up as ‘typical’, ‘homemade’, is almost always kitsch food, second-hand culinary junk”), like the love for novelty with its dump of already dead creations, demolished together with collective memory. His intentions had nothing to do with this: this impossible missionary cultivates tradition in the way Gustav Mahler intended it, “safeguard of the fire, not veneration of the cinders”. As his fuel, he uses the wood of imagination, his bellows are the pneuma of culinary passion.

His biography is bare as the slopes of the Maiella massif: his parents, two retailers in Potenza, a normal interest for food, the decision, with his friend Franco Scuteri, to open a pub when he was a kid. And from there on, the outburst. After changing a couple of cooks, the apron stays tied around Frank, for ever. In his mind, the already clear vision of an accurate cuisine from Basilicata, brought into focus after going around restaurants; on his bedside table, one book followed the other in order to learn the techniques and concepts of local “surgery”.

Since 2004, the anthropological afflatus that he conducted in Potenza, recuperating ancient recipes – like water and salt – and thanks to the fieldwork with artisans, was doubled in the Calabrian maison of Dattilo: this was the occasion for a Southern syncretism that ripped up, with blue, the stony calm of Potenza.

Frank Rizzuti passed away February the 17th 2014.

Has participated in

Identità Milano

Born in 1967 in Potenza, Francesco Rizzuti took his first steps in the restaurant scene as the host and patron of Antica Osteria. After moving to the kitchen, in 1996 he opened the Marconi, again in the capital of Basilicata. In 2004 it was the turn of Dattilo, located in Calabria, awarded in 2012 with a Michelin star. In the same year he raised the bets once again, with the new restaurant, Frank Rizzuti, Cucina del Sud, that made him the unquestioned leader of Southern cuisine, beyond the known itineraries and the made-up clichés.


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