Piana Santa Liberata
Castel di Sangro (Aq)
The Reale in Rivisondoli was the place of the tasty tales of two brothers, whose family name is Romito, living at the foot of the Maiella, more meters of altitude (1,310) than inhabitants (684). A bit more than thirty, we find Niko in the kitchen and Cristiana in the dining room. The Reale used to be a hotel. When it opened in 1911 as Appenninis Grand Hotel, it was the only one in this area of great mountains and ski. Then, one day the king called in and the name changed. More recently, changes involved what once had become a confectioner’s and which Antonio Romito decided to turn into a restaurant. It was the year 1996, and after two years his dream would have gone to Heaven with him.
Niko was then 23 and, at the death of his father, stopped his studies of Economics in Rome and became a chef. A decisive experience for his professional growth was that at Caino in Montemerano (Grosseto). Today, we have one of the most serious interpreters of Italian haute cuisine, who draws from the best raw materials and interpret them according to his own creative intelligence, without copying trends and turn to conjuring tricks for fools. All this in an uncomfortable place, where this kind of research work isn’t easily understood by the inhabitants and foreigners arrive in dribs and drabs due to the great distances. Fausto Arrighi, manager for Italy of the Michelin guide, wrote beautifully about him. When I asked him about a young chef to bet on for the year 2008, he answered Romito and then asked himself: «I wonder why him, I was thinking coming back from my Christmas holidays in Naples; after all, Italy counts many ‘good boys’ in restaurant management and I’ll certainly wrong someone else, equally good, but the choice is him! I admit that I was strongly impressed by his kitchen. The cleanness of elements, typical of a chef with a great sensitivity of palate, that mix of creativity and territory which are the basis of modern cooking in our country. The lamb variation is outstanding, but also the stuffed pasta rolled out like only the kneaders from Emilia Romagna can do. At this point I asked myself: What can spur a young man on opening a gourmet restaurant far from everything in a place where, apart from natives, there isn’t a living soul out of the season? After a short talk I found the reasons of all this. They are, as it often happens, the roots, the love for his land, a story of restaurant management which is a family tradition.
Niko is a mix of shyness and serenity, no insolent at all, a bright face and in his eyes the will to do can be read. I’m sure this is only the foreword of his story». The second Star came soon after. The tastiest news is that, starting on spring 2011, Romito moved his restaurant to the nearby town of Castel di Sangro: Niko has purchased and renewed a XVI century monastery. It has put together a great restaurant, comfortable rooms and a kitchen school for aspiring chefs.
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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Some of the speakers who will talk in the Auditorium at the 18th edition of Identità Milano, from the 28th to 30th of January
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Alcoholic lettuce and cream of milk: one of the dishes on the all-vegetable menu at restaurant Reale