The Comeback Kid

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

The Comeback Kid

"For me, the best compliment is when customers come back to the restaurant day after day.” Chef Antonio Salvatore, Rampoldi.

Article first published in Forbes Monaco December/January 2021 issue.

Rampoldi’s revival is served up by Chef Antonio with his Italian and French cuisine à la Monaco.

Founded in 1946, Rampoldi quickly became a glossy institution in the Monaco scene, counting Princess Grace and Roger Moore as regulars.

When Rampoldi reopened in 2016 after its 4-year renovation under new ownership, many were wondering what the young and innovative chef Antonio Salvatore would bring to the table. Dish by dish, he has not only lured back old faithfuls and developed a new generation of loyal clients, who appreciate his “from the garden to the table” philosophy, but his success has propelled the opening of his second restaurant, La Table d’Antonio Savatore, on September 1 this year. “I remember having my nonnas prepare delicious meals day after day, it was like having a permanent chef in the house,” says Antonio Salvatore, who is from Guardia Perticara in the southern Basilicata, Italy. “For me, eating well with the best ingredients the terroir has to offer is a culture I will always stay true to.”

Salvatore says training with some of the world’s top chefs in Italy, Spain, England and Russia “definitely shaped who I am today as a chef and the way I conduct my style of cooking. It also brought me a high degree of understanding of the different types of customers and their appreciation of gastronomy, and this is extremely important to me.”

The 34-year-old chef admits that joining Rampoldi “was a dream come true,” where he could mix Italian and French cuisine in a Monegasque style. From the beginning his idea was to create a “family restaurant” where diners can come and feel at home.

“Growing up with the culture of enjoying time eating with my family, I understood how important this moment of the day is. I am proud that Rampoldi has become a restaurant where guests really take time over lunch or dinner, sometimes staying for three hours at the table without any pressure, just as if they were in the comfort of their own home and had a private chef cooking for them,” he shares.

The extensive menu, from carpaccios and tartares to pastas and grilled meat—changes seasonally. “Offering Mediterranean cuisine, we bring our customers the best that Italy and France have to offer. I always cook with fresh ingredients and let myself be inspired by what I find daily in the Menton market and from local producers. I believe this is one of the things my customers love the most, that they know that they can find fresh food and something special every single day.”

For the Italian chef, Rampoldi is “very different from any other place I’ve had the chance to work before. Here I get to meet so many interesting people and celebrities, it almost feels like being under a permanent spotlight.”

Even with the majority of events being cancelled this year in Monaco due to Covid and the current health restrictions in place, Salvatore says he and his staff are “even more determined to bring joy to our guests all while respecting the highest hygiene measures and care.”

He grins, “For me the most important is for my customers to be happy and have a good time over a meal. If they feel like at home, then my mission as a chef is accomplished.”

Eat Me

ONLY AT RAMPOLDI

Chef Antonio Salvatore says one of the most popular dishes is the King Crab Tartare from Kamchatka, Avocado and Seasonal Tomatoes (€48, above) but deciding what to choose at Rampoldi is no easy feat with so many tantalizing dishes on the menu screaming “Order me!”

Hands down, there is something for everyone, with dozens of starter options and the vegan and vegetarian selection, which includes quinoa salad and pizza, is decently priced from €17 to €24. Organic chicken and lamb or Angus beef on the grill will set you back €41 to €49 but you need to save room for dessert: the unstoppable Citron de Menton, yuzu mousse and white chocolate, citron confit with mint and vanilla ice cream (€18).

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.