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A talk with Luca Gambaretto

In Piazza Erbe in the centre of Verona, in the seventeenth-century  cardinal’s palace, in a place that is full of atmosphere from the centuries of history surrounding it, there is one of the city’s oldest restaurants: the Maffei restaurant.
The owner and manager of this historic restaurant is a young entrepreneur, Luca Gambaretto, who has taken over the running with great enthusiasm and determination.

Luca, tell us something about yourself and your experience in restaurants.

I have had a passion for restaurants all my life and my first season in the kitchen was at the end of  my first year in senior high school, when I was about 15, in 2004. After that, starting in 2005 I moved into the dining room, always at the weekend but I started continuously on 1 September  2010, when I had the chance to run the family restaurant myself, helped by my sister. From that moment, I’ve dedicated all my energies to studying hospitality and achieving my goal, i.e. creating a group of restaurants offering different types of things. First, in 2014, Oblò was opened. This was one of the first places to give our city a new concept of hamburger that had already started in different parts of Italy and above all on the other side of the Atlantic. I’d say we made our breakthrough in 2017, when Oblò opened its second restaurant in the heart of the city of Trent. In September it opened Saos, which focuses on healthy eating and lastly Amo Bistrot, in the Amo museum inside Palazzo Forti.

How would you describe the cuisine at Maffei and the philosophy behind it?  

The cuisine at Maffei is certainly an international cuisine that uses meat and fish but does not neglect the terroir and is deeply rooted in our traditions. Our menu has always been linked to the seasons and in fact we change it 4 times a year but you will always find some of our must-try dishes, like beef cheeks brazed in Amarone and our risottos that are made only with dwarf Viaolone rice from the Verona plain.

What are the greatest challenges and greatest sources of satisfaction in your job?

The greatest challenge in my job is being able to leave a mark in all of the areas in which we are involved, never losing sight of our mission: it doesn’t matter whether we are making salads, hamburgers, risottos or raw fish dishes, what counts is how you make them.

Marketing, promotion and social networks: how much do they contribute to success, regardless of the food and beverage proposal?

Currently, social media and all the publicity play a very important role and if they are used properly they are one of the tools that can make an enormous contribution to the company.  The market has changed profoundly in the last 15 years and it is in a state of flux.

For the restaurant, you have chosen some plates from our Gesso di Stilleben collection. What struck you most in particular?  

The Stilleben plates match what we offer here at Maffei restaurant. They are clean-cut and linear with a beautiful consistency and they are exactly the right size.

How important is the right mise en place on the tables in your restaurant?

A clean-cut table setting is very important, so just a few things that are looked after carefully. I’m convinced that  Stilleben has great potential and I’m certain that its users will be pleased with their purchases.

Future plans?  

My objective is to consolidate our businesses and export our project even outside Italy. The best is still to come.