via Monte Cadria, 127
Daniele Usai, that is to say the strength of simplicity. This is what is helping him to stand out in the Roman restaurant scene and – why not? – in the Italian one, despite starting from one of the most unlikely places to be found on the Italian gourmets’ map, namely a hidden road in Ostia Lido. The latter is a sea town (but also a neighbourhood in Rome) which is a bit like the suburbs of suburbs, and a bit like a beach for the mass. A good place for an omelette sandwich, seasoned with sand and drops of sunscreen oil. Here, a few roads away from the seafront and the beach resorts, Daniele - together with his partner and friend Claudio Bronzi, who assertively works as patron and cultured sommelier – has found an enchanted garden. This is a place full of steps and clefts, seating less than thirty people, with a half bourgeois, half minimalistic decor. This, however, is a place that can give lots of surprises to those who leave the prejudgements and suspicions that burden first time visitors of Il Tino behind.
Daniele is not a fireworks-chef, but he’s like those embers that warm up over time. He speaks slowly yet only uses the right words. He bets everything on what he has, and not on what is not there: he respects the territory, the season and the client too. He knows the limits of the location and keeps his prices low, offering tasting menus with wide and harmonious gestures for fifty euros. Inside, however, he uses all the languages he speaks, and they are many. He has studied the basics, the grammar, in London and San Francisco, he did his homework with Gualtiero Marchesi, he started as chef de partie at Eden in Rome. Then, in 2006, he opened his own business and transformed this wine-bar in via dei Lucilii into a small lighthouse in the darkness of spaghetti with frozen clams, gummy fried fish and pathetic sorbets in which Ostia is immersed.
Local dialect and foreign languages, speaking in an elegant way and making himself understood. Year after year, Daniele began to dare, he has explored the matches only he could imagine of, a true visionary. Sometimes he made a mistake, and he always found someone who would make him understand this and he listened to them. He introduced a marine vocation for spices, seaweeds and an exotic touch to his cuisine. He played with touch and sight. He bet a lot on beer, which according to him is not only a tool of extreme erotic play in the red room of high cuisine, but a ductile element that can match daily cuisine. Most of all, he never lost his smile. Not the least important ingredient.
Roman, now living in Milan, sommelier, he's reporter of Il Giornale. He's been writing about taste for years
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All is ready at Rome’s Eataly for the Roma Food & Wine Festival, from Saturday November 29th till Monday December 1st. 18 great Italian chefs and their specialties, all to be tasted, will be the protagonists.
Except for a few people missing, the whole team that worked on stage and behind, during Identità Milano 2014. Directing, Claudio Ceroni of MagentaBureau (in the centre - photo by Brambilla/Serrani)