There's a beautiful film by David Mamet, great American author, who calls himself The house of games (1987). It is the film that marked the passage of the author from the screenplay to the director and confirmed the skill of Joe Mantegna. A successful thriller, but above all a story full of tension, surprises and deceptions. Maybe it's a stretch, but for us the home of the culinary games currently is Casa Perbellini, not (only) for the name of the sign that is not the first nor will it be the last to have a call of intimacy. Not even because, something even rarer, it is structured as a house on the ground floor, which overlooks on the splendid Piazza San Zeno in Verona: entrance from a small door, a hallway with a small counter, the open plan kitchen-living room, the new pastry area. It's the House of Games because Perbellini – one of the most classic Italian chefs in history and character – has decided to overturn so much, if not all. And here we go back to the film. There is the positive tension of a whole brigade composed of young people. The continuous surprises in the ability to create very Italian combinations, but not classic. Deceptions in a playful sense: you expect something from a dish and discover exactly the opposite.
Pastry chef was born
For the use and consumption of the few who do not know him, Giancarlo Perbellini – Veronese della Bassa, born in 1964 – raised in one of the great families of Italian pastry, he dedicated himself to cooking since his youth. After the inevitable apprenticeship between Italy and France, he opened his first restaurant in 1989 in Isola Rizza, winning in three years the Michelin Star and repeat it in 2002. In 2014 he moved to Verona, creating a new format for the star category: a "home" where haute cuisine is made, paying for what it is worth. It is not a place for "bistronomies", nor even a modern tavern, nor the umpteenth "local second" of a great chef. And it is "cuisine du marché" because the shopping is done in the morning, seasonality is total, there are no freezers or cold rooms. All with a smile, but also with a strict professionalism in the open kitchen and in the dining room, where, not surprisingly, the person in charge Barbara Manoni he won the Michelin Guide award for best service in 2019. And the cellar – Perbellini's historic passion – is fabulous, with authentic rarities.
Off to young people
Five seasons after the opening, immediately greeted by the double star, the chef from Verona put his hand to the restaurant: without changing its nature, he substantially renewed the brigade, not because the previous one was scarce (indeed), but because of the need not to stop. The new sous chef, returned from important experiences, is the Marco Stagi from Bergamo. «I chose it because it sees the kitchen as opposed to how I see it, in terms of education and history. Ours is a meeting of opposing visions that then become complementary and this, in my opinion, is the secret to evolving. The kitchen of Casa Perbellini is immediate, of great emotion and I want to maintain this spontaneity through ever-increasing simplification and the search for essentiality. Marco is the right person: the current card is the first one made together and it is a tangible sign of the change underway . Realized by a greater offer in the pastry shop and from new menu for vegetarians which is called Verdurando and costs 124 euros.
Italianity, but not traditional
There was talk of culinary games. The main one is linked to the menu Who chooses … test where the brigade prepares a series of dishes whose ingredients are the ingredients chosen by the customer. Three or four in rotation, in our case cod, celery, almonds. A menu – in full integral – served at 132 euros per person. And then there is the Assaggi tasting (156 euros) which together with a few classics – the best known is the Sesame wafer, sea bass tartare *, goat cheese with chives and liquorice sensation – expresses the top of Casa Perbellini, the new creations and the revisitation of recent ones. Dishes, like the ones we show you in our gallery, where it is hard to find something that is not Italian, but not necessarily the regional tradition, the usual family madeleine.
A complete network
But not for a form of culinary sovereignty. On the contrary: Perbellini is one of the Italian chefs who travels most around the world and loves ethnic cuisine. «But because by dint of looking out and no longer having our ideas, it seems that we can no longer do without soy sprouts and yuzu. I believe that we must promote our cuisine as much as possible, in the world but also at home, since foreigners have never been so interested ". The chef preaches well and scratches better: beyond La Pergola restaurant in Bahrain, is engaged with various partners in a galaxy of venues in Verona: the excellent Locanda dei 4 Cuochi, the pizzeria Du de Cope, a place dedicated to fish such as Al Capitan della Cittadella, the lively Tapasotto for author's stops and Dolce Locanda that reflects the ancient passion for pastry.
The success of the Milanese Locanda
And then there is Locanda Perbellini, in Milan: for many the best bistro under the Madonnina: direct dishes, but always with the touch of an author, informal and quick service, the right value for money that even holds in the most expensive city in Italy. Total success, which comes from the variation of the work done to the parent company. Where behind the simplicity that you bring to the table, there is a very modern rewrite of the concept of bistellato – or in any case of the local for gourmet – that will surely find imitators. All the more thinking that many restaurants at the same level seem to be "blocked" by recognition and are not making progress. Perbellini, on the other hand, seems to be able to revolutionize his cuisine, maintaining its balance and innate class. A sleight of hand, in conclusion. Or, better, of talent and wisdom.