“Can the tourists just stop with their cappuccinos, their pizzas and their kebabs?” laughs Massimo Bottura as the Gucci Osteria, for which he is responsible, opened this January 9th. The best chef in the world (according to the 2016 Fifty Best ranking) with 3 Michelin stars for his restaurant in Modena and star of the first episode of the Netflix series “Chef’s Table”, has a whole new ambition for visitors to the Tuscan capital. Joining forces with the house of Gucci, he is promising the essence of his cooking in a series of a small sampling dishes available throughout the day, costing between 20 and 30 euros: a creamy risotto with mushrooms, tortellini Parmigiano Reggiano, but also a brioche filled with pork belly, “the best hot dogs and burgers” … And?
… And, despite the small number of covers at the Gucci Osteria, it won’t be necessary to reserve a table a year in advance, or send a letter of motivation (explaining to the chef why you deserve a seat in his restaurant) as was the case with his Osteria Francescana in Modena. On the kitchen side of things, there’s Massimo Bottura’s signature dish: tortellini with Parmigiano Reggiano matured for 36 months. “My secret?” confides the chef, “I create a sauce with Parmigiano Reggiano and water. Just water. It’s the truth. If I use butter or cream, you lose the real flavour of the product. A taste that has been locked in my memory since I was a child and that I wanted to reproduce here. If you want to promote cooking that is good and healthy, you have to pay a lot of attention to the fats you use!” The result will no doubt seduce foodies as much as those looking for a something a little lighter.
“My secret? I created the Parmigiano Reggiano sauce using water.”
The tortellini and Parmigiano Reggiano matured for 36 months.
Installed in a palace opposite the famous Palazzo Vecchio, the Gucci Osteria is also trying its hand at upscale fast food featuring burgers and buns. “The most important thing is the balance with the food,” explains Bottura. The brioche bun filled with pork belly is the idea of sous-chef Taka Kondo who’s in charge of cooking in Florence. “The brioche is prepared Chinese style,” Massimo Bottura tells us, “but when its in the mouth, it feels more Japanese, with the taste of pork that penetrates deep into the throat.” Here it’s a collective approach, with starters by Ana Karime Lopez Kondo and a chocolate dessert conceived in tribute to the son’s chef.
“As an Italian, I am naturally nostalgic, I like looking to the past, to traditional cooking. But I know how to exercise a critical eye and how to renew.”
“My son gives me lots of grief,” laughs Bottura, “but he has a great quality and that is his love of chocolate. The dessert that we offer is made of Venezuelan cacao, accompanied by ice-cream, something like Tiramisu. We can detect a flavour of Nutella.” But without the palm oil and saturated fats.” As an Italian, I am naturally nostalgic, I like looking to the past, to traditional cooking. But I know how to exercise a critical eye and how to renew and create new traditions. Here like everywhere we do, we want to offer a real cooking experience, using local ingredients, even though inspiration comes from around the world.”
Inspiration comes above all from the culture and world of art and music for Massimo Bottura. Like his cod fillet in calamari ink broth served in Modena, named “Tribute to Thelonius Monk” by this keen jazz fan and owner of 12,000 vinyl. Since the opening in 1995 of Osteria Francescana, the venue has welcomed works by Maurizio Cattelan and Matthew Barney… His famous lemon tart exploding on the plate (like “oops I dropped the lemon tart”) is a tribute to the oeuvre of Ai Weiwei. So, it really comes as no surprise that Massimo Bottura accepted the invitation to Florence, to the heart of an 18th century palace reinvented by Alessandro Michele to welcome works from his own abundant creativity and other artists from around the world.
Gucci Osteria by Massimo Bottura, from midday to 8.30pm on reservation. The galleries in the Gucci Garden are open between 10am to 7.30pm.