Lo Chef : una Storia di Famiglia
My family has been in the restaurant business for a very long time. I’ll tell you about our intertwined adventures starting from Pietro, my father.
“Da Pietro” where it all started
My family has been in the restaurant business for a very long time.
My father Pietro entered the business when he was a teenager. Just after the war, he waited tables in diverse restaurant of the city.
Growing older, his passion for the restaurant business just got bigger and his curiosity led him to Milan and Turin where is was a waiter and a barman. During his military service, he got busy in the officers’ kitchen.
When he got married to my mother, he worked out of his way, working in more than one place at a time to put some money aside and afford to open a place of his own.
In 1972, I was less than 10 years old when his first luxury restaurant came to life in the heart of the city: “da Pietro”. Few place settings and maximal quality. To make it happen, it took several sacrifices, a pinch of madness and the indispensable help of my mother, Pina.
After years of great success Pietro felt that the time had come to expand. He offered to design a restaurant on the top floor of the then very popular Riviera hotel.
Two huge reception rooms, a terrace with an incredible view of the Strait of Messina and a ship-inspired private room built entirely of wood: the restaurant “Il Galeone” was born.
It was 1980 and my brother Salvatore and I, still teenagers, began to take our first steps in the profession.
“Il Galeone” represented the opulence of the 1980s: parties, weddings, banquets, celebrities and political figures were part of our daily lives.
In addition to the catering services, also requested abroad, for a few years during the summer season we managed the restaurant of the hotel “Le Sable Noir” in Vulcano.
Those were years of living as if well-being could never end. We didn’t know then that things would suddenly change.
The end of a dream
The economic crisis and the Mani Pulite investigation created a lot of turmoil in the city.
It was 1991 when the sudden sale of the Hotel Riviera to the regional province of Messina led to the termination of our lease and the successive arrests of the owner of the structure and the president of the province.
When everything changed, we all found ourselves a little confused: the whole family depended on that business.
In the following years we took over other restaurants – “Il Giardino delle Palme”, “Il Patriarca” of Capo d’Orlando – but we were feeling that something had changed.
Those were tough years and the members of the family were forced to go different ways.
However, my father taught me, my brother and my sisters that failure only make you stronger, what’s important is to get up.
My father and sister Roberta seized the opportunity to go to the United States thanks to a proposal in a restaurant in New York State, my brother Salvatore decided to devote himself to trade in the tourism sector and my sister Daniela and I became agents of commerce.
For several years I alternated periods abroad, returning to Messina to see my family. After a while though, I felt that this was not my place.
The “Amici Miei” bet
In 2010 I went back to Sicily to get involved once again: I imagined creating a “ristorìa”, a hybrid between a restaurant and a trattoria.
“Amici Miei” was a gamble: a small place, in a period of crisis, inside a saturated market like Messina where many restaurants didn’t last for long. To many people it didn’t seem like a great idea.
Arturo, my sister Daniela’s ex-husband, accepted this challenge with me. After ten years of satisfaction, I can say to those who did not believe that they were wrong.
Between Taormina and Malta
In the period between 2014 and 2016, with my sister Roberta, my brother Salvatore and with the help of my children Dalila and Pietro, we took care of the management of “Ciampoli”, the restaurant of the spectacular 5-star luxury hotel “El Jebel ”Of Taormina.
In 2016, thanks to the mix of operational and management skills, I was asked for advice to start a Sicilian restaurant on the island of Malta in the style of “Amici Miei”: “4 Amici” came to life, where together with my children I followed the development of the business in all its phases.
The beginning of a new adventure
Like my father before me, I have always felt the need to “expand”. I dreamed of a larger, dynamic venue in Messina, to be able to organize receptions, perhaps with an outdoor space and why not even a bar corner. When I was asked to manage La Durlindana, I thought it was time to do just this.
My mother’s care and dedication and my father’s manic perfectionism have influenced me enormously throughout my life. Today I’m proud to offer some of their best recipes to honor our family tradition.
I believe that the heart is the staff, “le personnel” as we once said. What my father taught me is that our profession has dignity all the way. When you manage to make the client feel “at home, but better” is undoubtedly the greatest satisfaction.