In Casa Nori (Mr. Nori's house), which is located in Podil, you can choose the desired format of the evening: a nice informal chat at the bar with your friends with a glass of wine and a set of snacks in hand with pleasant music on the first floor or comfortable family\romantic evening on the second floor at a table near a window or with a view of the open kitchen.
Here you can enjoy really traditional Italian cuisine of Veneto region and wines from all over Italy. And I was also lucky to have a friendly chat friendly with chef, to get to the kitchen and cook delicious pasta according to the old technology, but with a modern approach under his leadership.
About good chef
The chef, who lives in another country and wants to share the traditions of his country, always experience some difficulties. If I was in Italy, I could do more in better way - I know where to get quality products, I have a lot of familiar people. But over time, living in a new country, you gain that knowledge. I have been in Ukraine for 10 years already, and I can fully do what I like in the best possible way.
A good chef is trying to share his experience. I have worked in different restaurants: traditional Italian trattories and Michelin restaurants. It helped me to learn the traditions of Italian cuisine together with new technologies in combination with cooking. Regardless of the restaurant level, a good chef has to provide quality food. My kitchen here combines the newest technological approach with the constant tradition of my country's cuisine. Harmony is the main thing - no need of extreme.
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If we talk about the difficulties in terms of working in Ukraine, a few years ago it was difficult to find quality products. For example, there was no good seafood. I was directly involved in the search for seafood suppliers. When the range has grown, prices have fallen. The language barrier is the second problem. That's why I learned Russian to communicate with my team, because it needs to understand the chef. A good staff is one more difficulty, but it exists in any country. There were not so many professional specialists, but I was lucky to find good people who wanted to grow and learn. Team is very important, you should feel comfortable working together. Here in Casa Nori there are 3 people who have been working with me for 6 years. And I like to help raising young professionals.
Michelin or Tripadviser?
Now, there are various new and interesting guides and critics, who put more soul into the assessment of the restaurants. Yes, Michelin is very prestigious, and they expand the options for evaluating restaurants. As for me, when I was younger and more ambitious, of course, I wanted to get a Michelin star, and I got it. But it is a very hard work, which helps you to accumulate invaluable experience. Now all reviews of my restaurant are important for me. But without the first stage there would not be a second stage of my career. With no Michelin star I would not have the experience that allows me to cook delicious food and my restaurant to get good reviews.
Now there are good farms in Ukraine, which produce good meat and cheeses. The quality of local products is growing. There is a company that provides me wigh a special meat. But still some traditional Italian products we order and bring from Italy. Now we start to make our own conservation here.
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About favorite cuisine and products
I love olive oil, for me it is the most important product. We cook only with Extra Virgin. My mom’s cuisine is my favorite, it can not be repeated. I try to cook like she does, but it does not work 100%. If a person does not like to cook probably he does not love himself. If you want to learn how to cook, first of all you need to understand which products to buy. There are many resources nowadays that can help to learn cooking. But cooking is not only about technics and knowledge, it is like everything else in life - someone has a talent, someone doesn’t. If you feel the passion, so this is yours.
Italian in Ukraine
I have an Italian friend who lives here for many years, and he became Ukrainian. I practically live at work and at home. It’s my Little Italy. I feel good here. I'm working with a friend, I enjoy my work, but I still feel like 100% Italian.
Read: Risotto with gorgonzola, radicchio and red wine by Italian chef
About osteria-chiketteria format
We can say that this is something new that no one here did previously. At first, people were a bit confused, that on the first floor of the restaurant they had to stand to eat snacks with wine. Now there are people who come only for that format, and they enjoy food and fellowship there. On the second floor there is a cozy family-run format. Now everyone can choose for themselves a comfortable place in the restaurant. Of course, not everyone accepts this, but there are those who come here exactly for this type of rest. Many order snacks-to-go for a buffet or an evening with friends.
About Italian cuisine
I have been in different countries, and all over the world our food is popular. This is due to our traditions, the soul, which we put into cooking. Some Italians go straight to my restaurant from the airport just to eat really Italian food and then go on their business. In our kitchen there is a choice of a variety of dishes, but they are all delicious. All the food is homemade one.
The Ukrainian kitchen has black bread and butter, which we don’t have so much. But there are similar dishes as well. For example, your dumplings - the dough is cooked without eggs and the stuffing is raw. In our ravioli dough is cooked with eggs and stuffing is already prepared. Therefore, the ravioli are prepared quickly. And we have a similar dish, it is meat jelly.
Here we present wines from almost all regions of Italy. Staff can help with the choice of wines and dishes. We hold tastings for all staff, not only for food but also for wines. For guests we organize the evenings when we offer some sets of 4 dishes and 4 wines, so they can taste different.
Read: Matteo Boifava: Italian Chef in Kyiv
About the future of food
All the new techniques rely on older systems. Sous vide technique for example and others. Modern technology simply helps to apply the old approach in its best way.
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak
Photos by Yulia Kurta