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Gourmet journey to Abruzzo

Chef's Escape by Niko Romito ***

Niko Romito's obsessive quest for simplicity, while respecting tradition, lead him to his three Michelin stars. This ideal also helps him define the new codes of Italian cuisine where taste and intensity of flavors prevail.

In the small city of Castel di Sangro, in the heart of Abruzzo, this self-taught genius built humbly and faithfully his "gourmet project": the Accademia Romito, a cookery school that trains about thirty students each year, and the Laboratorio Niko Romito where he leads his research on bread and exports his biscuits, panettoni, pandolci and bread all over the world!

More than 10 years after opening the doors of the former 16th-century monastery that would become the Casadonna Reale - his design hotel and starred restaurant, Niko Romito is spreading his unique vision of gastronomy all over the world.

In Tokyo, Paris, Rome, Beijing, Dubai, Shanghai… the Chef supervises the kitchens at Bulgari Hotels & Resorts; in his three creative Spazio restaurants in Rome, Milan and Rivisondoli; or in the stazione del Gusto ALT, a concept dedicated to a new kind of street food… no Michelin-starred starchiness here!

C'est à Castel di Sangro dans les Abruzzes que Niko Romito élabore la cuisine italienne du futur
Niko Romito's restaurant in Abruzzo (Italy)
Cooking up the future

In his restaurant Reale, Niko Romito focuses on pure and light cuisine where “the challenge is not to add ingredients but to take them off!”

That’s his genius: the apparent simplicity that hides hours of experimentation, planning and preparation. The total elimination of fats is also something of an obsession. Scientist Niko Romito? Yes, for sure! But above all, he moves the traditional cuisine to a more conceptual level and cooks up the future. Niko Romito’s cottoleta alla milanese and Cauliflower au Gratin became Art. A creativity intimately connected to his region and his terroir.

When I met him at Castel di Sangro, he told me emotionally of his childhood, the long walks he used to take up in the mountains with his beloved grandfather who knew the land like the back of his hand; of what bread means to him; of his old friends – winemakers, butchers, cheesemakers whose wonderful products you’ll taste during your exclusive and private journey.

Abruzzo, land of contrast

“Our land is beautiful but also tough and full of contrast. Here, the summers are blazing hot and the winters freezing cold.” That is how Niko Romito describes his region, located near the Grand Sasso national park.

Picturesque stone villages of timeless charm, deep blue lakes, steep mountains, wild horses, plentiful sea: the Abruzzo is a more rustic and pastoral experience of Italy.

In this grandiose landscape, home to the highest summits of the Apennines, the old vineyards of Montepulciano in Abruzzo produce an intense red wine with notes of flower and spices. The Trebbiano of Abruzzo focuses on white wines for a more fresh and dry taste.

It used to be a land of sheepherders, which you can feel in the region’s cooking. Bread, pasta, salumi and cheese are the stars of every table and always produced in close relation to the nature that surround it.

Le parc national du Gran Sasso abrite des hordes de chevaux sauvages à la beauté particulière
Wild horses in the Abruzzo national park

Upon the Costa dei Trabocchi, old fishmonger homes on stilts have become fashionable seafood restaurants where one can experience a more aquatic side of the Abruzzo.

Italy is full of hidden gems!

I wish this trip in Niko Romito’s Abruzzo will bring you as much deep emotions as it did on me.

Juliana Angotti, founder of L'Hedonist

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