“ROMEO, THE INNOVATIVE HOTEL OF NAPLES: Mirror to the Gulf of Naples, overlooking Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri on the horizon. Thus, ROMEO Hotel unfolds, five-star modern luxury, eclectic design, architecture and art, passion, beauty and taste. To discover Naples and the beauty that surrounds it.”
The spectacular view of the Gulf of Naples from the 10th floor is the perfect setting in which to get to know Il Comandante (nickname of shipowner Achille Lauro), a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the Romeo Hotel. Salvatore Bianco is responsible for the creative and refined gourmet cuisine.
Assisted by a highly skilled crew, the chef prepares surprising dishes, combining sophisticated simplicity with elegant presentations. Dazzled by the gulf, we asked Chef Bianco to tell us about his cuisine, which he describes as a multi-sensory experience.
Chef Bianco, let’s start from the beginning, or rather with the raw ingredients. According to what criteria do you select your suppliers?
The basic criteria is extreme focus. The fresh products used in Il Comandante, and in all of the restaurants of the Romeo Hotel in general, come from small farms scattered about the Monti Lattari, in the foothills of Vesuvius National Park and in Basilicata.
I’m referring to seasonal vegetables like string beans and zucchini, tomatoes for preparing preserves, and even cherries for jams and desserts. The fish, on the other hand, comes directly from independent local suppliers, who give the staff in our kitchens priority in selecting from the day’s catch.
How do you use these outstanding raw ingredients?
In a very original way. I would say that my cooking style is based on cross contamination. We begin with the incredible culinary tradition of Naples and the unparalleled wealth of its local and seasonal raw ingredients, and then give it a modern twist.
It’s an eclectic mix that I create with ideas, techniques, and cooking styles from other culinary traditions and philosophies as well, combining them in a multi-sensory experience.
So not just just technique, but also interpretation, like in art. In your opinion, what is people’s relationship with food these days?
I must say that, especially in the past two years, I’ve seen a return to authentic flavour and tradition. Food is history, it’s memory, and it also provides comfort, especially during difficult times like the one we’re living through right now. Looking abroad and shifting our boundaries, I notice how ethnic cuisine, with its techniques and flavours, is growing more and more popular.
What trends will we see in the coming year?
The concept of sustainability will certainly persist, a trend which is emerging in many sectors, not just ours. In the restaurant industry, being sustainable means favouring a short and certified supply chain, like that of our raw ingredients, focusing also on the study of flavour and on a presentation that is enticing to clients.
When it comes to equipment, how is the market changing?
Kitchens in large fine dining restaurants are transforming into true laboratories of innovation. They’re places in which to experiment, and this requires the proper equipment.
There is, therefore, a particular focus and study. In addition to technique and precision, the new equipment makes it possible for us to achieve innovative results in terms of flavour and preparation.
What do you see for the future of the restaurant industry?
At the moment it’s hard to make any predictions. The situation is complicated to manage due to aspects related to the absence of qualified personnel and also due to issues related to the pandemic. An important new chapter is ready to begin.
However, I believe that a first step could be the return to training personnel and adopting incentives that stimulate the arrival of new people.