CASTEL DI SANGRO: When Reale reopens on March 23, Niko Romito will present a tasting menu that represents the chef’s journey into his research of the vegetable world. The choice to reopen Reale with a tasting menu dedicated to vegetables is a response to a creative process born 20 years ago. Vegetables have often featured on his menus and some vegetable dishes such cauliflower or mushroom have become iconic.
The Italian chef is now taking his continuous research to extract the best flavour out of very ingredient into a full menu which ennobles simple ingredients through creativity and intuition.
“This year more than ever, I realised that vegetable dishes are those in which our creativity is expressed in a way that is powerful but also spontaneous. This is the origin of the new vegetable menu. We offer a table of colours, tastes and flavours which has hues that other ingredients lack. The keystone is preparation. It is the creative process that guides the transformation of the ingredient, enhancing its flavour while preserving its intrinsic purity and intervening on the structure and nuances becomes more important than the ingredient itself,” said Niko Romito.
He added that the creative process is necessary with vegetables because the raw material imposes certain rules and hence puts constraints on what works and what doesn’t. “This rigidity needs to be respected and interpreted and adds to the dimension of the product,” he said.
The Italian self-taught chef who has a distinct style says that a well-prepared dish is one that satisfies those who eat it whether it is a carrot, cauliflower, meat or fish course. “The new menu is the result of enormous work in the plant based world which gives back the complexity and completeness it deserves and one that is not always perceived when eating.”
Niko says that even in gastronomic literature, there has never been the acknowledgement that vegetables are as tasty or gourmet foods as other ingredients but are often underlined for their role in a healthy and balanced diet. He is of the view that this needs to change and those with knowledge and know how need to use education to overcome this barrier.
“Today more than ever, the responsibility of a chef is to guide and not just surprise customers. We need to open a window onto new possibilities, to speak a language that respects the need of a world that is changing. We need to send a message to a younger public that is challenged in the face of changes that we are all experiencing,” Niko said.
The Reale tasting menu includes red onions with vermouth and pink pepper, broccoli leaf and anise, roasted savoy cabbage, linguine with red peppers, roasted endive and gratin of cauliflower among others.
The restaurant will also serve dishes from the a la carte menu composed of great classics and new dishes that still allow customers a wide choice.
The Gruppo Niko Romito includes the three Michelin star restaurant Reale in Caste di Sangro located inside the premises of Casadonna, a former 16th century monastery. In the same location is the Accademia Niko Romito, a professional cooking school. On top of that he has Spazio in Milan, Rome and in Rivisondoli as well as the Laboratory Niko Romito, the research and development headquarters. He has also created ALT Station del Gusto, a catering format for service stations and collaborates with Bvlgari Hotels and Restaurants with restaurants in Beijing, Shangai, Dubai, Milan and Paris.