Don't tell his Mamma
Claim to fame: Slow cooked Italian attitude
Reason to go: To chat up the sommelier about the 2006 Piemontese vintage while eating unorthodox pasta
To look out for: Sometimes embargos make for better cooking, forcing the chef to invent domestic dishes that are way smarter than their foreign originals
Let’s be honest here, creative Italian cuisine is a holy terror, a visitation for our sins, gluttony, to be precise, and gastronomic lust. As soon as an Italian chef decides to cheat on his mamma’s recipes and lays his hands on a siphon to add a hypothetical espuma to imaginary pasta, you can give up all hope. Of course, there are some rare exceptions, and they are counted on the fingers of one hand.
Surprisingly, Moscow offers one of those exceptions as the import of fresh ingredients from Italy is banned, the embargo has forced the chefs to get creative in order to keep their cuisine… well, Italian.
Maritozzo is lucky not only with the investor who was generous enough to install the best open kitchen in town and amass a great collection of wine (oh those Barolos!), but also with the chef. Andrea Impero is only 26 years old, he’s spent 15 of those years cooking. His qualities are hard to miss, an open kitchen makes it even harder.
Here, in the center of Moscow, far away from his mamma, and probably secretively, Andrea works with ingredients grown either far away from the Apennine sun, or imported to Moscow under lend-lease from Belorussia.
What’s cooking? Quadrucci, tiny envelopes of pasta filled with anchovies, served on top of oyster tartare with goat cheese espuma. When you put a spoonful of quadrucci into your mouth you have to hold your breath to savor the freshness of the Far East oysters, the softness of the dough with the salty anchovies filling, and the light smell of meadow… It’s hard to imagine this combination in traditional Italian cuisine, and it’s even harder to live without it once you’ve tasted it.
“Double tagliatelle” comes with julienned cuttlefish that blend perfectly with the pasta, seasoned with smoked olive oil; Nipponese simplicity multiplied by artful, Japanese knife skills. Another blast: uni carbonara. If there’s no bread, let them eat cake, that old trope attributed to the unforgettable Marie-Antoinette, a quote that here loosely translates to “if there’s no guanciale, let them feast on sea urchin from Murmansk”.
Impero cooks yellowfin tuna confit, adding a bit of lemongrass (sawasdee, Thailand!), serves beef with cacao sauce (hola, Peru!), complements san pietro filet with bouillabaisse (bonjour, la France!) and sweetens the minestrone (scusi, mamma!). If this was Lazio, where the chef comes from, we would probably turn our backs on the restaurant without even trying the food, but in Moscow we gladly agree that even Italian cuisine can be creative. And so we eat. With a view straight into the city’s best open kitchen.