Aimo e Nadia yesterday, today and tomorrow: united it stands
To explain how the Aimo e Nadia restaurant is still recognized as one of the temples of Italian cuisine throughout the world, one need only visit the Via Montecuccoli location in Milan. Here, in 1962, while the economic boom was in full swing, the Tuscan couple Aimo Moroni and Nadia Giuntoli opened the restaurant that is today run by their daughter Stefania along with two chefs—Fabio Pisani and Alessandro Negrini, both of whom were born in 1978, though one is from Puglia while the other is from Lombardy.
This place represents a sense of “us,” the teachings of Aimo e Nadia (who are now both happily retired) and the difficult changing of the guard between generations that usually leads to negative performance, but that here have led to what Negrini doesn’t hesitate to call “a miracle of continuity.” Not just because the restaurant has once again been awarded two Michelin stars but also because the new management team—with Stefania and the two chefs in a partnership since 2012—has been able to build an even more solid foundation upon which to base ambitious future plans.
“At the beginning, it was very difficult,” admits Stefania. “There were some bitter battles due to differences between Aimo and the two young chefs,” who came to this family-run restaurant in 2005 after working abroad and then at Pescatore in Canneto sull’Oglio, which is where they met. But Stefania is firmly convinced in the power in numbers, and she’s invested in the team concept in order to create a future and alternatives for the restaurant. “It’s the people who make the business,” she says. Pisani and Negrini (who have the same role and duties) highlight the importance of having objectives and trying to reach them by being patient, without rushing.
So after six long years in the kitchen working alongside Aimo and Nadia, learning from their teachings day after day, the two chefs have been able to bring continuity as well as new prestige to the restaurant—in 2008, it got its second star back (which was lost momentarily during Aimo’s illness) and later became a member of the prestigious Les grandes tables du monde and Relais & Chateaux associations.
THE NEW PATH
Today, Pisani and Negrini, who are equal partners along with Stefania, are the businesspeople who lead Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, a restaurant that boasts 2.5 million in turnover (with growing numbers), about 30 employees, and direct relationships with an impressive 82 suppliers. “It is not easy to manage all of this, but knowing the products, the local area and being directly involved in all aspects of daily operations—from food shopping to cooking—allows us to have a strong identity,” explain the chefs.
The words “culture,” “patience” and “team” are constantly repeated among these three whose eyes—so full of passion and determination—reflect these same values when it comes to their work.
The team also includes maître Nicola Dell’Agnolo and sommelier
Alberto Piras. For her part, Stefania really focuses on opportunity/risk analysis, and expects each partner to share his ideas.
“And if we don’t agree, we still need to find a solution that works for everyone.” Protecting the Aimo e Nadia brand and highlighting the value of Italian food culture in a competitive global market is a group project based on everyone having equal say and the same objectives.
Today, “Il Luogo” (the place) has this name because it “is a place of experiences” where “relational cuisine” is presented along with works by artist Paolo Ferrari, which hang on the wall and have certain similarities with the dishes created by the chefs. This is also a place where a foundation has been built over time to allow for new types of expansion. In addition to the restaurant, there is also a catering and events business. The dream is to expand from internal training, the day-to-day work in the kitchen, to the creation of a real “Il Luogo” school in order to share the restaurant’s unique philosophy with professionals new to the industry—perhaps even abroad.
“Let’s talk again in 10 years when our plans will have evolved in all senses,” says Pisani. Considering how things have gone so far, there’s a good chance it may just happen.