Paolo Lopriore is the prodigy of the grand master of Italian cookery: Gualtiero Marchesi. In Il Portico in Appiano Gentile, he serves up convivial food with a strong bond with the local area.
WHAT KIND OF BOND DO YOU HAVE WITH THIS AREA? YOU WERE BORN HERE AND RETURNED A FEW YEARS AGO.
I cultivate my bond with the local area on a daily basis. I want to get as close as I can to the people that live here and the guests that choose to come. On a gastronomic level, the province of Como hasn’t really had its breakout moment yet. It’s a real shame, but the positive thing is that we still have some extraordinary raw ingredients here, partly due to the fact that they’ve never become too trendy. I really believe that cooking is about reflecting the local area as closely as possible. For example, I don’t use red vegetables because they don’t grow here. Our cuisine is built around wonderful flavours and cold colours – it’s almost understated.
WHAT ARE YOU FAVOURITE LOCAL PRODUCTS TO USE IN THE KITCHEN?
White meat. We don’t rear many animals here – just enough to cover local needs. Take veal, for example. I love using the liver – it’s really silky and perfect for refined palates, almost the opposite of Tuscany’s delicious, rustic crostino nero. As well as that, you can’t ignore the fish from the lake. That’s one of this area’s biggest assets.
WHAT LOCAL PRODUCERS DO YOU LOVE GOING TO VISIT?
Macelleria Girola, which is run by a father and son duo. They listen to their customers and their needs carefully and even invite you behind the scenes.
In Ossuccio there’s a guy called Simone Fraquelli, who has helped me to learn about the lesser-known lake fish like chub and burbot, the liver of which is similar to the prized foie gras. These flavours are old and new all at once, because basically nobody knows how to use them in the kitchen.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO INCORPORATE LOCAL TRADITIONS INTO HAUTE CUISINE?
It’s all about bringing local flavours and products to the table.
WHAT DO WE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO TRY IF WE VISIT THE AREA?
Alborelle. They’re tiny lake fish, served simply soused.