An Italian cuisine worldwide: the new format developed for Bulgari

  True taste is an absolute value. As such, it can relate to anyone: the challenge is in distilling it, exporting it and ensuring that the whole world learns to recognize it. I have always dreamed that one day I might captivate guests by serving them superb spaghetti with tomato sauce thousands of miles from home. I believe our country’s finest flavours know no bounds or national boundaries: after all, there are none in the case of Italy’s most exquisite species of beauty, craftsmanship and lifestyle. The idea of creating my own, uncompromising code of great contemporary Italian cooking fascinates me; the chance to see it reach far and wide intrigues me. When Bulgari suggested I create the cuisine of

Lentils, hazelnuts, garlic and white truffle

I started mulling over the concept for a new dish with lentils about a year ago. I got the idea after tasting a great dish by Alain Ducasse, at his Plaza Athénée restaurant: lentils, caviar and a shellfish gelatin. Actually, I had already begun thinking about it a few months before, over a big lentil terrine that reminded me of rabbit liver, in Florence. I’ve always worked a lot with legumes, particularly lentils, which are elements of the territory, affordable and abundant here in Abruzzo. However, for this new dish I did not want to make yet another soup. Preparing a legume-based menu for a special event provided a pretext and an opportunity to develop the idea: sometimes creating a

Nutritional intelligence

Although I work in a 30-seat restaurant, I like thinking in terms of big numbers. I don’t believe this is a contradiction, for the technical research and reasoning that we do at Reale offer continuous cues for products intended for a much larger public than we’re able to serve in Castel di Sangro. It’s a ‘trickle-down’ phenomenon that involves other fields (e.g. design, fashion, Formula 1…), a lot of people have talked about it. This is the direction of the ‘IN-Intelligenza Nutrizionale’ project, presented at La Sapienza in Rome this past October 19th. We’ve been working on it for a year and a half, since Lorenzo Miraglia of the Giomi/GioService Group (which provides catering services to a number of Italian

Savoy Cabbage and Potato

Savoy Cabbage and Potato is one of the latest dishes created at Reale. It joined the menu when reopened after the winter break last year, and I presented it in March at Identità Golose. It is the dish that perhaps best reflects who I am at the moment. I didn’t quite know where to put it, so for now it’s an antipasto. But it’s really a main course, 100% vegetarian, but in terms of structure and flavor could easily replace meat or fish. Savoy cabbage is an ingredient I’ve always enjoyed. In Abruzzo, during the winter, it is eaten as a soup with potatoes, and there’s a traditional dish from our district with a pasta made with water and flour that we call

How a dish is born

I ask myself this question often, and I believe it depends on the fact that one of humanity’s greatest curiosities concerns the moment of creation. When we find ourselves before something that strikes us, we invariably wonder, “Where does this come from?”, often questioning our own skill: “Under the same conditions, would I be able to invent something similar?”. I’ve asked this many times, and usually it turns out to be the approach of the architect and engineer that governs my process of inspiration. I remember reading the history of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, thinking that I would like to build something equally great. Bridges have this effect on me, as do certain musical compositions (I really like the music of


I spent a few days in New York battling the cold (-16 degrees centigrade, if you consider the wind chill factor), trying to see and taste as much as possible. It’s not easy at those temperatures. I did manage to visit the new Whitney Museum designed by Renzo Piano, and at a certain point, exploring the galleries, I started thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while: the importance – and the risk – of contamination. Piano is an Italian contaminator, one who has left magnificent marks from Japan to America, by way of Italy, like many other men and women who have always brought the excellence of our country to the world. And those who leave almost always


I’m in Hong Kong for work, I’m cooking until Sunday at Tosca, a restaurant in the Ritz Carlton, with my crew from Reale and chef Pino Lavarra. The jet lag won’t let me sleep, so I’m thinking about broth. In the course of just a few days, it came up unexpectedly in two completely different contexts, and when something like that happens it’s never a coincidence. Right before leaving for China, I was with the Neapolitan gallerist Lia Rumma, a witty and magnetic woman with an incredible intuition: she recalled a chicken broth she’d made for William Kentridge, which brought to mind a broth I’d made at Casadonna for Ettore Spalletti, a great Abruzzese artist, reticent and profound, whom we both love.


In early December I was in Copenhagen for a friend’s birthday. Just an overnight trip, because in this period of my life I unfortunately only have brief snippets of free time: two dinners, a lunch a quick spin through the furniture shops. I had a tiny suitcase and decided to forego any acquisitions to leave room for a loaf of bread that had particularly impressed me. The bread’s creator is Christian Puglisi (of the restaurants Relæ, Manfreds and Bæst), an excellent bread developed together with Chad Robertson of Tartine, in San Francisco: a dough at once light and creamy, tart, with a pleasantly toasted crispiness to the crust. Puglisi’s isn’t the only bread I’ve fallen in love with (the various others are from

Laboratorio Reale

Today we’re closing Reale for the winter break, perhaps the longest since we moved to Casadonna in 2011. We’ll reopen on March 2nd, with dinner service. Those who know me know how hard it is for me to close for so long, but I understand that it’s necessary – and not only for recovering one’s energy and creative ‘juices’. During this break, first I’ll travel and reflect for a while, and then, with my trusty crew, I’ll dive even deeper into the research we’ve been conducting recently. We’ve always done research, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we’ve never been so focused and full of enthusiasm and ideas as in the last eight months. This year marks in