The New Italian Southern Cuisine



The South of Italy is in our collective image, and I don’t mean just Italian, the land of great products: despite this, with the extraordinary exception of the enclave created in the Sorrento Peninsula, it was never a land of great chefs. And I don’t mean that historically there haven’t been any venues offering shelter where one can sit and enjoy these raw ingredients magnificently presented (but honestly very few). However a network of diffused excellent places to eat has always been lacking. Something that gave the idea of a territory that moves ahead and evolves not just some lucky accidents.
It is very likely that this is due to the favourable moment for all Italian cuisine, but there is certainly something else that has changed in the attitude of an ever growing young southern generation. I think that today one can identify a sufficiently high number of chefs that for each age group, approach to cuisine and homogenous territorial distribution have the characteristics of a real movement, even if this is completely informal, as it would be in a sector drowned by huge egos.
For a long time the main task of someone working in a kitchen down south was to be a banqueter, preparing seasonal wedding cuisine, the only training and formation for generations of chef that in winter would emigrate or switch jobs. To this day a large number of young chefs in their restaurants think and prepare dishes with their head full of these banquet schemes.
Then suddenly different venues started to open; few and yet very brilliant; isolated but prime restaurants: Pino Cuttaia in Licata, Niko Romito in Rivisondoli, Ciccio Sultano in Ragusa. As if a dam had broken, a wave has arrived and it fortunately seems to want to drown us.
Here is list off the top of my head: Antonio Scalera chef-patron at La Bul in Bari, Sebastiano Lombardi chef at Cielo in Ostuni, Felice Sgarra chef at Umami in Andria, Domenico Cilenti chef at Porta di Basso in Peschici, Angelo Sabatelli at Masseria Spina in Monopoli, Frank Rizzuti in his restaurant in Potenza, Massimo Carleo at 5 Sensi again in Potenza, Nicola Fossaceca at Metrò in San Salvo, Mattia Spadone at La Bandiera of Civitella Casanova, Marianna Vitale at Sud in Quarto, Cristian Torsiello at Osteria Arbustico in Valva, Vitantonio Lombardo at Locanda Severino in Caggiano, Gennaro Di Pace at Osteria Porta del Vaglio in Saracena, Luca Abbruzzino in his family’s restaurant in Catanzaro, Peppe Bonsignore at his Oste ed il Sacrestano in Licata, and there are at least another twenty talents that have all the requirements to make it big in the next two or three years.
Theirs is a prime, product-based cuisine that is creative and solid, always with a strong identity, which declines taste recollections and traditions in a very contemporary fashion and does it in territories that are hostile towards this to put it mildly.
They are constantly networking, among themselves and with producers in their area: they have certainly learnt their lessons from more highly appointed chefs, but they have learnt well.
This is the New Italian Southern Cuisine! We want to tell you about it day after day. 

comment this article