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Mr Porter Eats

Where Italy’s Finest Chefs Mangiano Bene

Seven Michelin-starred maestros reveal the eateries not to be missed in the land of pasta and prosecco

  • Locanda Margon’s Chiocciole di kamut Paolo Chiodini

It’s fair to say that Italy has quite a bit to offer even the most cultured man. The expansive views on the Amalfi coast. Rome: steeped in art and history. Milan’s metropolitan flair. But let’s face it, whether you’re a local or a visitor, the main attraction is dinner.

Everything revolves around food in Italy. From antipasti to digestivi, life is punctuated by long, leisurely meals – it’s an institution rather than a luxury. The cooking celebrates individual, native ingredients, which the country has a wealth of, from the white truffles of Alba to the blood oranges of Sicily. And despite flavours and techniques differing from region to region, food is created with two simple but quality-defining things in mind: passion and simplicity.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Italy has the second-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (Japan has the most). Music to any foodie’s ear, of course – but it makes deciding where to eat an epicurean dilemma. So to help us sort the finest from the fine, we turned to those in the know. Below, seven of the world’s best Italian chefs pick their favourite eating spots in their home country. Ditch the guidebook and start making reservations. Buona cena.

Mr Simone Tondo

HEAD CHEF
Le Roseval

Aged just 26, Sardinian-born Mr Simone Tondo helms what is widely considered one of the best bistros in France. Having left Italy to develop his trade in Paris, he is at the forefront of redefining contemporary cooking in the city.

HIS PICK: Piazza Duomo – Alba, Cuneo
piazzaduomoalba.it/en

  • From left: the exterior of Piazza Duomo; pannacotta Matisse

“Based in the southwest province of Piedmont, the restaurant has a big garden with a fine selection of vegetables, so the chef Enrico Crippa (who has three Michelin stars) creates dishes with a lot of his own produce. Enrico’s cooking has been inspired by time spent in Japan – and by Michel Bras and Gualtiero Marchesi, both of whom he’s worked with. Eating here is an amazing experience from the first plate to the last.”

What to order
“I ate 25 dishes but the one that stood out for me was the potato soup. The simplicity impressed me.”

When to go
“Alba is where the white truffle is from, so go when it’s in season, around November. It’s a three-Michelin-star restaurant, so you’ll probably have to book the summer before!”

What to wear
“It’s not an American, British or northern Italy type of Michelin-star restaurant. There’s no strict dress code so don’t worry about wearing a jacket. You can be casual.”

  • Loro Piana Baby Cashmere Sweater

  • Etro Rinsed Cotton and Cashmere-Blend Jeans

Mr Enrico Crippa

HEAD CHEF
Piazza Duomo

Born in Carate Brianza in the very north of Italy, the three-Michelin-starred Mr Enrico Crippa is known for his energetic approach to experimental cooking, which stems from formative years owning a restaurant in Japan and time spent working with Messrs Ferran Adrià and Bras. 

HIS PICK: Uliassi – Ancona, Senigallia
uliassi.it

  • From left: buffalo cheese ice-cream, meringue mead, pine honey, flowers and pollen of oak and thorn Lido Vannucchi; the stylish interior of Uliassi

“Chef Mauro Uliassi makes the best fish dishes in Italy and visiting his restaurant offers some of the most spectacular sightseeing in the country. I love this place because even though it is by the sea and he is a leading ambassador for his territory on the Adriatic coast, the restaurant has one of the best reputations for cuisine in the whole of Italy.”

What to order
“The Uliassi Lab Menu – an experimental series of dishes that takes months to create.”

When to go
“Book at least a month in advance and go during the summer – the best time of year to look out to sea as you eat on the beach.”

What to wear
“Casual dress is fine.”

  • Illesteva Havana Square-Frame Acetate Sunglasses

  • SAINT LAURENT Striped Cashmere Sweater

Mr Niko Romito

OWNER
Reale

One of just eight chefs in his home country to boast three Michelin stars, Mr Niko Romito and his revered restaurant Reale, an hour from Naples in the Abruzzo mountains, take pride in simple ingredients and original cooking. 

HIS PICK: Ristorante Da Caino – Montemerano, Tuscany
dacaino.it


  • From left: Ristorante Da Caino is a hidden gem; head chef Ms Valeria Piccini uses only the finest ingredients Relais & Châteaux 

“The head chef, Valeria Piccini, is one of the most passionate and sensitive female chefs in our country. Thanks to her, I discovered the value of raw materials. The attention and respect she gives to ingredients makes her cuisine natural – full of well-defined flavours and the smells of Maremma (in southwest Tuscany). There are only about 25 seats in the restaurant, which makes dining there an intimate and emotional experience.”

What to order
“Cod fish, pigeon and the paste ripiene [filled pasta] — the potato ravioli in clams’ broth with spring onions and asparagus is particularly good.”

When to go  
“Whenever you go, the menu and hospitality are always perfect. You can get a table if you book a week in advance.”

What to wear
“Smart-elegant attire.”

  • Canali Navy Milano Slim-Fit Wool Suit

  • Kingsman + Drake's Silk Grenadine Tie

Mr Giorgio Locatelli

CHEF-PATRON
Locanda Locatelli

Born near Lake Comabbio, northern Italy, Mr Giorgio Locatelli first moved to England in 1986 to work at The Savoy. Now a familiar face on British TV and one of London’s best-loved Italian chefs, he opened his Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli in Marylebone in 2002.

HIS PICK: Da Vittorio — Porto Palo di Menfi, Sicily
ristorantevittorio.it


  • From left: dine with a view at Da Vittorio Antonino Bartuccio/ 4Corners; Maccheroncini di Campofilone with clams, shrimp, cazola and squid Stefano Scatà/ 4Corners

“Executive chef Enrico Cerea will only use the freshest ingredients and seasonal produce. When you eat at Da Vittorio you are dining directly on the beach, so the view out to sea is breathtaking. The experience here is very different to going to a restaurant or a hotel – it’s like being part of a family.”

What to order
Zuppa di pesce [fish soup] and spatola fish in agrodolce, which is a sweet-and-sour sauce.”

When to go
“Spring or summer is always best, but make sure you book earlier rather than later to go at this time of year. However, I have been in September and October as well and the weather was beautiful.”

What to wear
“Casual attire such as beachwear is fine.”

  • Orlebar Brown Ridley Open-Collar Linen Shirt

  • Folk Denim Shorts

Mr Andrea Berton

CHEF AND FOUNDER
Ristorante Berton

An alumnus of legendary chef Mr Gualtiero Marchesi, Mr Andrea Berton (who has two Michelin stars to his name) and his Milan restaurant are a leading example of la nuova cucina Italiana. His cooking is exceedingly creative, infused with a touch of whimsy. 

HIS PICK: Locanda Margon – Trento
locandamargon.it


  • From left: the elegant dining room at Locanda Margon; a dessert of solo granoturco Paolo Chiodini

“When I want to run away from Milan with my family, Locanda Margon, north of Lake Garda, is the perfect escape. Not only is it secluded, it represents my ideal restaurant and style of food, and reflects my philosophy of what dining should be – a 360-degree experience.”

What to order
Riso e bollicine with Ferrari Perlé Rosé.”

When to go
“Go in September – it’s the best moment to enjoy the produce from the kitchen as well as the surrounding nature. Booking a week in advance should be fine.”

What to wear 
“Elegant but informal attire.”

  • AMI Blue Wool-Twill Blazer

  • Officine Generale Auguste Striped Linen And Cotton-Blend Shirt

Mr Massimiliano Alajmo

EXECUTIVE CHEF
Le Calandre

The youngest chef in history to be awarded three Michelin stars, Mr Massimiliano Alajmo is considered one of the best Italian chefs of all time. As well as the understated cooking at Le Calandre, he oversees the kitchens of Quadri, La Montecchia, Il Calandrino, abc Quadri and abc Montecchia.

HIS PICK: Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia – Milan
aimoenadia.com

  • From left: the interior of Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia; rice with baby squid, capers from Pantelleria, fresh Sicilian tomatoes and turnip tops juice

“Chef Aimo Moroni – who hails from Tuscany – has an incredibly fine-tuned sensibility when it comes to ingredients. Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia’s forte is being able to do simple food extremely well.”

What to order
“A mix of his classic dishes, such as spaghetti with spring onions, and some of the newer additions to the menu created by Fabio Pisani and Alessandro Negrini, Aimo’s two young disciples.”

When to go
“Book a week in advance and go in March or April, when the cipolotti, or spring onions, are in season.”

What to wear
“Smart casual is fine. Jackets aren’t necessary but no shorts!”

  • Gucci Striped Mohair and Silk-Blend Sweater

  • Paul Smith Slim-Fit Cotton-Blend Chinos

Mr Italo Bassi

Born in Fusignano, Mr Italo Bassi’s cooking is influenced by teenage years working under Mr Igles Corelli at Trigabolo in Argenta and a stint in Tokyo. He is one of two head chefs at Enoteca Pinchiorri, the three-Michelin-star Florence restaurant based in the ground floor of an 18th-century palace.

HIS PICK: Confusion – Verona
ristorantipesceverona.com


  • From left: dine at the bar and watch the chefs in action at Confusion; fresh filled pasta with seasonal ingredients

“Confusion is the perfect combination of quality products and creativity. I see it as a restaurant for those who wish to experience pure gastro-hedonism. You can sit at the bar in front of the kitchen, where you can enjoy a free gastronomic performance from the Italian and Japanese chefs. But the real stars are the ingredients that make up these two great cultures.”

What to order
Octopus with sweet red-pepper sauce, green beans and yuzukoshu.

When to go
“In spring or summer you can have dinner on the Shakespeare-inspired balconies, enjoying the view of the river and city below. During winter, relax on the sofas in the fairy-tale atmosphere of the lounge. Book well in advance.”

What to wear
“Casual.”

  • Burberry Slim-Fit Checked Cotton-Blend Shirt

  • Levi's 501 CT Jeans 501 CT Slim-Fit Jeans