Stefano Catenacci, Gastronomic Director of The Nobis Group
“I’m a chef, like my father and grandfather before me. Our group has worked with top class restaurants for centuries, long before we got started in the hotel business some fifteen years ago. Restaurants and bars are our mother’s milk, if you’ll allow such an expression. In many hotels, restaurants are quite stale and routine, but our restaurants should serve as attractions in their own right, that’s the personal responsibility of me and my brother Sandro.
Our main restaurant Caina is a traditional Italian ristorante in the true and honest sense, simple and rustic, but also modern and elegant. This means that we serve Italian food in its genuine, true form, not in the usual interpretations presented around the world. A bruschetta, for example, is a piece of yesterday’s bread, charcoal grilled, rubbed with fresh garlic, sprinkled with good virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt, nothing else. We serve mozzarella only when we can get proper fresh mozzarella directly from the Napoli region. We get it on Monday and then serve it Monday and Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, then no more. We will serve it plain, just as it is, maybe with a little olive oil, as a starter. Again, we are a simple and traditional high class restaurant, not a fine dining restaurant, but of course we will blow the big horn and gorge ourselves on white winter truffles when they arrive in late October and early November!
Our father is from Rome in the Lazio region and our mother is from Napoli in Campania, so this is where our gastronomic roots lie. My father, who taught me how to cook, still cooks family dinner for all of us every Sunday. He likes to cook things like Zuppa di Faggioli, bean soup, made with borlotti beans, with fresh homemade pasta that is rolled out and cut into cubes and boiled in the soup which is sprinkled with olive oil and seasoned with dried chili before serving. It’s unbelievably delicious, rustic cooking in the tradition of this region.
However, I’ve traveled all over Italy, and we serve food from all Italian regions, sometimes maybe one region at the time, for one week or one month at the time — Toscana, Piemonte, Umbria, Liguria, Veneto, Lazio, Campania, Calabria, Sicilia, Puglia, and so on. We play it a bit in accordance with the seasons, perhaps concentrating on the northern regions with their somewhat richer food in the winter months, and on the southern regions, with food based on olive oil and fresh vegetables, fish and seafood, in the summer. We’ve researched a large number of top quality smaller producers in the various regions to supply us with the best local ingredients and specialties, like deer sausages from the mountain regions in Veneto, and such good things.
Another element in the true Italian restaurant culture that we honor is the oral presentation of the fare. We have a quite simple written menu, but the maitre d’ will present the dishes of the day orally to every guest, telling them about the dishes and the ingredients. Our menu is quite small, based on what’s available in season, with a limited choice of dishes for each course. I believe in such a small but exquisite menu, with top class ingredients only, that is changed frequently.
For wines, too, we offer a limited but supreme selection of wines from the various Italian regions, both rustic and more advanced ones, no standard wines, perfectly matching the dishes of the day. Of course we also have a proper Italian trolley with a nice selection of grappa, limoncello and all the other kind of Italian drinks that go with a proper meal…”