Marco Gallotta. Born in 1974.
Star sign: Sagittarius. Element: fire (of the stove)
Distinguishing marks: chef.
His olfactory infancy, strongly defined by the sauces of his mother (a cook), inevitably led him to be gastro-curious. The professional choices he will make after school very soon demonstrate this. Aged 15 he was already in the kitchen of the Antica Enoteca Capranica, headed by Francesco Zani with the consultancy of Angelo Paracucchi: here he climbed the classic ladder, from commis to chef de partie. After a brief stint at the Holiday Inn S. Peters, he spent two years in the kitchen of Fauro, where he expanded his knowledge of traditional cuisine, especially the Roman one. Aged 22 he arrived at the Antico Arco al Gianicolo, as the chef. He will lead the brigade here for three years: during these years he perfects his training by attending bread-making, pastry and cuisine technique courses. Working in a kitchen environment corresponds to a need to dig deeper, experiment, get to know more and more tradition preparations to multiply new dishes. It’s obvious that his desire is to transform traditional dishes into creative opportunities.
The years go by and Marco continued to live important experiences, until he reached the position of executive chef at ‘Gusto, a restaurant in the heart of Rome that at the end of the 1990s marked the passage from catering to concept food. But after a few years the chef was mature enough to use his experience in his own kitchen. So this is how, with his friend Massimo Terzulli, he decided to reclaim an area that at the time was difficult: Pigneto.
The courage and will, the passion for cooking, led Primo al Pigneto to climb the chart of venues preferred by Romans and foreigners. A few years later Rosti was also opened, always in Pigneto.
When did you start?
When I was 14 I attended Hotel and Catering School and at 16 I was already working in restaurants. After taking the first steps in little ones, where I spent my days cutting mushrooms, I had the chance to put myself to the test in important restaurants, and above all, to support the great personalities of Italian Cuisine.
Antica Enoteca Capranica with Angelo Paraucchi (my master), working as a consultant with the chef Francesco Zani. And then Trattoria Fauro, Antico Arco, Testa Fodd&Wine, Gusto, Osteria della Frezza, until I opened my own restaurants Primo al Pigneto and Rosti.
Who is your idol?
I don’t have any
The book on your bedside table?
I am not a heavy reader. Who works in the kitchen, with passion and professionalism, never stops creating and doing researches. The reading helps keeping passions alive so, when I can, I let myself be carried away by whodunit books. I occasionally read, reread, some line of The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin, some of his aphorisms are so relevant even nowadays
What catches you?
Love, a friend who wants to vent, the bread proving, outdoor short breaks, a dinner with friends (if I am not the cook), the farmer care toward the field, a man who believes in what he does, women’s strength, the aromas coming out of the pot that, sometimes, bring me back when I was a kid.
What do you think of a tramezzino sandwich?
One time I liked it, I used to go crazy when, as a young man, I used to go to the “House of tramezzino”. I believe it’s an exciting meal anyway, maybe because of its geometric shape and its various colours. If a good chef is able to make a good tramezzino with fresh products, I still believe it’s a good fast meal.
Your favourite dish to prepare?
I have always found meats very stimulating, especially lamb or castrated mutton meats, but it’s been a while since I have been attracted to vegetable garden work and to dishes which can be prepared using seasonal products
Your favourite dish to eat?
I am a baccala’ lover by definition
Viva l’Italia in the kitchen. Why?
It’s the only country which, with an extension of only 1800 km, contains maybe the best products in the world for type and variety