Abruzzo’s Real restaurant redefines Italian food with a vegetarian twist (photos)
4:31 AM EST, Mon December 5, 2022
Casadonna: Amid the rural greenery of Italy's Abruzzo region, the Casadonna complex houses the Reale restaurant, a hotel and culinary school.
Best of the best: In 2022, the Reale restaurant was named Italy's best by Gambero Rosso, the country's most historic guide to dining venues.
Niko Romito: Reale's three Michelin-star chef Niko Romito is the brains behind Reale's award-winning menu -- which now embraces vegetarianism.
Cristina Romito: Romito's sister, Cristiana Romito, manages the front of the house at Cassadona.
Carciofo e rosmarino: This dish of artichoke and rosemary is one of the elements on Reale's new fully vegetarian tasting menu.
Scarola Arrosto: Roast endive is also on the menu. Romito says his vegetarian shift is also a way to influence and encourage restaurants of all types in Italy to use simple, healthy ingredients that grow locally.
Lenticchie Aglio e nocciola: Or lentils with garlic and hazelnut. "If I think of legumes in Abruzzo, chickpeas, lentils and beans, these are not often used in fine dining. So if fine dining starts using these ingredients, it influences everyday restaurants," says Romito.
Foglia di broccolo e anice: The broccoli leaf, paired with anise on Reale's menu, is usually discarded by chefs. Romito has made it a star ingredient.
Zuppa di patate: "Today, a client has to eat in a place that is thinking about eating well and using ingredients that do less damage to the environment, and cook with ingredients that, until recently, were considered boring and banal," says Romito. Here's his luxury take on potato soup.
Gratiné cauliflower: "The creativity of a chef is to value these ingredients and research -- that's the difference. If someone eats the dish and says, 'wow, a broccoli leaf can be this good,' then you are making a difference and changing how ingredients and the creativity behind cooking are understood."