HISTORY OF THE ANTICA OSTERIA DEL CARUGIO
Alessandro and Antonella
ALESSANDRO’S ROLE AND VISION. FAMILY CONTINUITY.
Our passion for our job started with my grandparents, restaurant owners since 1960, and continued with my mother, who kept the tradition going and passed it on to me. My journey began in the family restaurant, Il Timone: that’s where I started learning the basics, working side by side with my mother.
But passion is by no means enough! I attended ALMA, Gualtiero Marchesi’s International School of Italian Cuisine, graduating in Food and Beverage Management, and rounded out my knowledge in wine by taking the AIS Sommelier Course. Then, I embarked on a path that I had, in some way, been on forever. I delved into the dishes typical of our land and heritage, those special things that I, and we, felt and feel belong to us. A whole world opened up to me: connecting with people, with my customers; the passion for food and wine; Liguria.
It’s all marvelously gratifying and fulfilling, and it happened very simply and naturally, like a bud gently opening into a flower.
The Antica Osteria del Carugio project allows me to express who I am: “a contemporary innkeeper“, quoting Gualtiero Marchesi. The great master and father of modern Italian cuisine liked to recall that “simplicity is complexity resolved”. And simplicity is the value that identifies the essence of my osteria.
THE HISTORY OF OUR RESTAURANT
The Carugio “style” dates back hundreds of years and exists ever since the Middle Ages. It was a kind of cooperative: the owner allowed others, mainly farmers and fishermen, to bring in raw materials and sell them. Needless to say, it was a gathering place for the locals and a venue that the travelers and pilgrims who visited Portovenere knew and visited. It was a meeting point for all, from local Ligurians to those, originally from regions with no access to the sea, that came here to spend their holidays, and/or had their summer abodes in town. At our Carugio, we aim to recreate the ambiance and emotions of that era. Our vegetable garden in Portovenere, and the selection of local products we offer, enhance our traditions without neglecting to be mindful of current needs.
One can easily identify the Osteria del Carugio with a traditional Ligurian staple: Mesciüa. But what is Mesciüa, exactly? It’s a typical soup, deeply bound to the core idea underlying our Osteria, made with chickpeas, white cannellini beans and spelt. It’s incredibly simple but has an extraordinary flavor. The three ingredients are soaked and cooked separately, and then assembled. We add our extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper at the end. Where does mesciua come from? We make it every day, and we always have. This dish comes from La Spezia, a commercial port about ten kilometers from Portovenere. The ships that once docked there used to transport pulses, mainly chickpeas and beans. Those who worked at the port (my grandfather, on my mother’s side, for instance) used to collect the leftovers, the goods that fell out of the sacks when they cleaned out the ships’ holds at the end of the day. They managed to get some beans, some chickpeas, a handful of grains, a mixture, “mescià” in the local dialect. Hence, mesciua: an extraordinarily simple dish.