Matteo Sangiovanni: from the raw material to the roots.
People, ingredients and sensory involvement: these are the secrets of Le Radici restaurant, where the talent, technique and creativity of one of the most appreciated chefs on the Italian scene is expressed.
When gastronomy truly expresses itself, it does so by engaging every sense. Because the culinary experience is something that is not limited to the palate. It has to do with knowledge, with the people who create and experience it, with the coming together of multiple elements that make it experience, precisely. Chef Matteo Sangiovanni, who has made the roots of Italian gastronomic culture the hallmark of his professionalism, explained this to us. He has had many experiences in prestigious kitchens: from the Four Seasons in Milan to the Astoria in Florence to the Tre Olivi Restaurant at the Savoy Beach Hotel in Paestum (SA). Today, his expression and concept of cuisine help give life to one of the most innovative restaurants in the Campania region and beyond: Le Radici, in Battipaglia (SA). A name that evokes substance, essence and a look to the future: because it is from the roots that our nourishment starts.
Chef, your cuisine has been called the finest cuisine in Southern Italy: what is your secret?
The secret is simple. To express the quality we want to achieve as chefs at Le Radici, we choose the people we work with, even before companies and suppliers. Having the same idea of nourishment is fundamental for those who, like us, have traveled the world and are now back to express their experience and research. That is where the essence of a culinary project is contained. That is why, in addition to people, the raw material is fundamental: 50 percent of our success. The roots of quality.
Creating culinary experiences is not limited to the dish we taste but something to do with ingredients, research, atmospheres…
The experience that we aim to transfer actually encloses the true essence of our restaurant, and it is something that we would like to involve those who choose us especially on an emotional level. A path, a journey. From the welcome to the décor to the atmosphere that is created and the care we know how to give to each table, it is clear that the choice of our restaurant is only the starting point for those who love to range in a sensory universe where the taste that originates from the cuisine is enhanced, for example, thanks to the wine that accompanies the proposals of our menu. Because letting yourself be guided is also part of the culinary experience.
Speaking of wine, its relationship with food, with its underlying ingredients, in turn creates experiences that can be unique.
The quality of a culinary project that expresses itself in the round is the result of teamwork. As already mentioned, if we are talking about culinary and sensory experience, we cannot but directly involve the wine that accompanies the dishes and the choices of our cuisine. That is why at Le Radici we collaborate on a weekly basis with sommeliers, maître and all the professionals involved in the various segments of the experience we offer in order to compare ourselves with respect to the menu and the proposal of wines to be selected and proposed. Regardless of the fact that our clientele often already knows how to enhance their choices, we try to offer and accompany the experience by giving the right value to each element that underlies it, and wine cannot but be the protagonist.
How important in this vision is the display aspect of wine? Judging by the trends of many Italian and international venues it would seem to be increasing…
Personally, I can guarantee that it is very much so. I will communicate just one fact: since we decided to also invest in the display of our wine cellar, at the commercial level we have had a 50% increase in sales of wine, champagne and everything that goes into the menu. An exaggerated success, but one that is guaranteed by the labels we choose and that we cannot help but link to their display, enhanced by showcases such as those provided by Ciam, in the case of Le Radici, an Exclusive P74 and two Islandzero, all equipped with remote control and customized in the choice of materials – just think of the inclusion of stoneware inside the wall display case. Since the design phase, in collaboration with our architect Diego Granese and the entrepreneur Giovanni Adinolfi, we have in fact focused very much on the furnishings, as well as on the enhancement of all the elements that also in visual terms could add value to the experience we had in mind for our customers. For this reason, when our supplier Pama Arredamenti introduced us to the CIAM world, we immediately had the perception of being at home, as well as alongside a company that could contribute to bringing our vision to life: one of the best known at the time that was able to guide us in the goal of enhancing our wine list and creating around this element an atmosphere in line with that of the restaurant.
Staying on the topic of food and wine pairings and experiences, make our mouths water by suggesting the perfect pairing for an autumn dinner or lunch…
My advice is to start this autumn tasting with a tartàre of bufala, celery and beet, to which I would pair a fresh Pinot Noir, which does not barrique, only steel. I would choose to continue with a first course: saffron and foie gras ravioli, accompanied by a soft red wine, and I would conclude this journey through seasonal ingredients and wines with an excellent chestnut and pomegranate dessert to be enhanced by tasting a Muffato della Sala from Cantina Antinori.