Andrea Asoli is just a 27-year-old but he has already got a long history in the area of cooking. Born in Rome, trained at the hotel school of Antonello Colonna, he has worked in the kitchen of the luxurious Michelin 1-Star Met Restaurant in Venice, then at Venissa, the refined restaurant of Marzobbo (where together with three colleagues has won a collective Star of the authoritative French Red Guide), to finally get to the prestigious Chateu Monfort Restaurant, very close to San Babila, adorned with antique furniture. This guy has got courage and guts. Because when Andrea Berton, big name of Milanese Cuisine, has laid eyes on his talent and proposed him to face this rough adventure of a brand-new restaurant concept, far from the aristocratic restaurants wrapped in cotton wool where he had worked until then, Asoli didn’t think twice about it. He went and did it, moving to Brera (one of the coolest neighborhood in Milan), where he began working in the kitchen of Pisacco Restaurant and gave life to a successful Bistro.
A new restaurant concept born from the idea of a group of professionals (managers, lawyers, art collectors, architects) who have relied for the love of good food on Berton to create an improved concept of catering, humble and quality-driven. A tendency to which many starred chefs have already applied, from Cracco to Niko Romito, from Alajmo to Bartolini, from Giancarlo Perbellini to Cristina Bowerman.
In this case, however, he took a decidedly bolder step, we’re not talking about a restaurant which proposes signature dishes at more convenient prices. We’re telling the story of a real bistro, where everyone eats together passionately. And where Andrea Asoli at the head of a tight-knit brigade of very decided guys can indulge in expressing the best of himself interpreting the concept of the place: a traditional cuisine refined with an elegant touch. It is no coincidence that the most requested dish in his bistrot is the Risotto alla Milanese that he as a roman has interpreted with a touch of respectful creativity, placing on top a light white sauce of veal (cooked in the pan to make it crispier).
The culinary concept that Berton had in mind was “a pleasant, quality-oriented, non pompous restaurant, in a context characterized by a fresh well-kept design, a precise and informal service, focused on bistro dishes, easy and elegant at the same time, with an Italian identity “.
Is it too much to ask? Absolutely not. The young, although tenacious and stubborn Asoli, has believed in this enterprise to the end, and carried it out at the best of his possibilities. “My cooking at Pisacco – he says – is different from the one I proposed in the starred restaurants in which I previously worked. Here I like the idea of doing catering with simple dishes by understanding how they can be valued and transmit new unprecedented sensations if prepared with excellent raw ingredients, plus a touch of imagination that does not distort the original identity of the single recipe, because any dish brings with itself the cultural roots which generated it. “
“Estimating that our customers eat just a first course, or at maximum two dishes and leave, with a stay at peak hours of about 10 minutes, the challenge that I have imposed to myself is to be able to provide, in that short space of time, a feeling that would remain in my clients’ memory, having explored an unimaginable qualitative standard never experienced before. I could say that I prepare modern, youthful dishes which are close to Haute Cuisine because of cooking preparation and techniques “.
And the project went so well that the Gambero Rosso Guide awarded this year Pisacco the “Three Cocotte”, highest score for a bistro. “Are you happy with this result?”
“And how not to be? In any case, for me the Three Cocotte do not represent a point of arrival, it is more of an intermediate goal, which makes me wish for further improvement”
Of course, the transition from a starred restaurant to a bistro requires a lot of courage when it is not the result of a mere misstep. But certainly Andrea Asoli knows what he does.
“Some might think that leaving a restaurant located in a five-star hotel to go working in a bistrot is kind of a downgrade. Honestly none of this was intended to be a step forward. I felt the need after having acquired so much culinary knowledge to take over the economical features of restaurant business, I wanted to take hold of the management culture, take care of suppliers, supplies, getting to know both technical and economical aspects.
Let’s say it was a legitimate step in order to realize the project of having a restaurant of my own.”
A restaurant that would be closer to Pisacco’s mentality than to an elegant starred restaurant, where to enjoy a kitchen for all budgets.
Pisacco is therefore the perfect training ground for him to come up with new cooking solutions, and learn for the time when he will be at the head of his own restaurant. Because his desire is to amaze, to make people understand how to create a kitchen for all, how high quality is at hand, without the need for abstruse experimentation.
And it is evident that to get to such essentiality the obligatory path to walk on – irony of fate – is that of high catering, the only one able to take you to the essence of ingredients and their processing.
The young Andrea found this path by chance after having attended the hotel training school in Rome at a very young age. “I am a self-taught – he likes to say – in my family I didn’t have anyone who introduced me to the fascination of gastronomy, I didn’t have any teacher who took me by the hand and taught me how to cook”.
The turning point took place when he was 19, when after the hotel school he went to France to take the first steps in a Michelin 3-Star restaurant. “And there, seeing how much a customer wishes to pay for a meal and how much sacrifice quality requires, I understood that this would be my path, a constant challenge with myself. I must say that thanks to Andrea Berton today I see many interesting paths crossing my culinary horizon “.
48 Solferino Street, Milan
Closed on Mondays and for the entire month of August
°° Translated from Italian to English by Gerardo Iannacci, email: firstname.lastname@example.org