Chef Niko Romito knows how important recognition can be. When he started Reale in Rivisondoli, a village of only 450 residents in Abruzzo as a self-taught cook, the people believed it was a miracle. Today, Reale is one of the best restaurants in the world and the chef is becoming one of the most internationally recognised Italian chefs in the world for his three Michelin star restaurant in Castel di Sangro.
So the first Michelin star for his Il Ristorante – Niko Romito at the Bulgari Hotel in Shangai has notes of something very special because this is a completely new project that aims to showcase Italy’s traditional cuisine in a contemporary manner.
“I am extremely pleased because it is a sign that our project is being understood. My idea is to take the Italian tastes and flavours which each of us has in their memories everywhere while showcasing our traditional dishes. Obtaining such a result just over 2 months from the opening of our restaurant makes this even better,” he told La Repubblica.
Niko Romito has opened restaurants in the Bulgari Hotels in Beijing, Dubai and recently in Milan and Shangai.
At first Niko was concerned because people might have thought that these would be similar to his three star restaurant but he spent 2 years studying traditional techniques to build a canon of modern Italian cooking in which flavour is essential and the essence of “Made in Italy” comes through in every dish.
Guests at Il Ristorante can try Niko’s signature dishes such as ‘Antipasto all’Italiana’ and recodified versions of the traditional Lasagna, veal Milanese, Potato Ravioli with Red Prawns and Squid, and Tiramisù.
Niko started cooking in 2000 when he was 26 years old. He had never gone to a cooking school or cooked in a restaurant. He was actually studying an economics degree at university with just a few exams away from graduation when he inherited the restaurant from his father and mother.
Niko is not only known for his Reale restaurant which has 3 Michelin stars. He has also opened a cooking school at Casadonna, the former monastery which houses the restaurant and a small hotel, a chain of restaurants called Spazio which enables students from the cooking school to get real experience of Niko’s cooking methods in cities like Milan and Rome (as well as Rivisondoli on the site of the original restaurant). He intends to expand Spazio to cities like New York, Paris, Berlin and London among others in the near future.