The world tour stops in Turin: from Brazil to Italy, where the essence of cooking is without limits and labels.
Place, wine, and divine are three words that create the perfect formula to tell the essence of Luogo di Vino. In the heart of the center of Turin, in 2017, was created a place whose objective is to welcome customers in a space aimed at the gastronomic experience through the divine nectar of the gods, wine, accompanied by a gastronomic mix without cultural restrictions: indeed, it is precisely the journey that is their inspiration in kitchen. Diego Dequigiovanni, born in Brazil, in Bento Gonçalves, owns the restaurant together with his wife Carla Rodrigues, also Basilian, born in Nova Prata. Both born in 1980, who, as in real love stories, met in Brazil and traveled the world together, until they arrive in Turin, where the meeting with the footballer Anderson Hernanes, also Brazilian, is decisive for the opening of the restaurant. The three become partners, even if the story does not start exactly like this: what was their initial project, is temporarily set aside, and resumed later. But let’s take a step back.
Diego. His background is full of vivid experiences: he was born in an Italian family that produced wine, even though he immediately understood that he wanted to work with people.
Thus began his climb: from Brazil to Europe. Among his most significant experiences: Bvulgari in London with master Alain Ducasse as purchasing manager and Chef Sommellier at Cambio in Turin.
Carla. Her background is as a psychologist: she works in human resources, as an objective to improve people’s working lives. She follows Diego, then, over time, gradually becoming part of the restaurant also she.
Hernanez. Here comes the meeting of the two with Andreson, who buys four hectares of vineyards in Asti and wants to do something about it: the three Brazilians develop a project of Bed & Breakfast, but we are going to talk about this later. In the meantime, Luogo Divino was born.
By Lodovica Bo
How is Luogo Divino about, and what is it?
For the initial Bed & Breakfast project, we had already purchased a whole wine cellar. Since the project takes some time to take off, we decided to open Luogo Divino, a completely separate project.
Luogo Divino is a wine bar where we also make cuisine. People ask for an aperitif made well and we like this, we have enlarged the kitchen later for the high demand from customers. We were born with an idea of a small place, and today it can hold 60-70 people. It all started with three people: it was me, Carla and Remo (the Chef). We sowed a lot at the beginning: imagine 3-4 Brazilians opening in Turin, with a cuisine without roots, the result of our travels, how long can it last? First of all, it’s a place made for us; you don’t have to do what the customer likes to satisfy the demand, but what you like, otherwise it becomes a place without a soul. Our solidity is because we care about details; because of the strength of our team, that we support every day and because of our propensity to always look ahead, to always have new ideas. We started with seven dishes on the menu and today we have twenty-two, not to mention the wine list with 800 labels. We work on a light, punctual, and friendly service. We started in 3, and now we are 9-10, in a place that opens only in the evening.
How would you define the philosophy and soul of Luogo Divino?
A curious and creative soul: that is the foundation of my life and Carla’s, whom we have known for 22 years, and we are still together because of a constant change. The same happened with this place; we have always been driven to be curious and to change to make this place grow. We let the young people who work with us express their curiosity because it is the engine that drives them to stay here with us and grow together. Not having the turnover allows us to be stronger: today, our family is composed of Remo, Michela, Carlo and one students of the Food Lab in the kitchen and Federico and Guillermo, in the dining room. And the results are many: we are on Gambero Rosso, Golosaria, Guida dei 100, Slow Wine.
One of the things that have never changed is the menu; there is no division of the dishes: there are ingredients, the dishes, and that’s all. We give people the chance to get to know different things, inserting ingredients from all over the world such as Peruvian aji amarillo or Brazilian tapioca, miso, and this makes people curious.
How would you define the cusine?
It is a kitchen of experience and memory: thanks to the trips we have made and are making, we have put together ideas that we wanted to bring back to the kitchen. None of us was born in the same place, and we have no roots, we are superficial in the strict sense of the word, attached to the surface in which we live. We catapulted ourselves into a place, and then each one, like a chat of people we don’t know, pulls out ideas from their childhood memories or experience. It is a kitchen of discovery, with technique, where there are no barriers or comparisons.
Coming all from Brazil, is there brazilian influence in your food?
There is a general gastronomic mix, not purely Brazilian. Let’s put something in the middle of the menu that identifies Brazil, but only a few elements, such as tapioca or farofa. We don’t want to bring back the Brazilian identity but revisit it with products that we can find here, mixing it with other cultures.
Local food and small producers who know each other personally are becoming increasingly important: from whom do you get your supplies?
We start from the assumption that we never went to the general markets to buy fruit because here we want the same products that I would like at home: we prefer to buy from small producers of high quality. The result is that people come back because they know that we work with high-quality products.
We have a few suppliers at Porta Palazzo; Badola, which is our vegetable store; for meat, we have both Donato at Porta Palazzo and Pietro Olivero in Bra. For the fish, we buy fish from Pescato del mare and for the eggs by the Soc. Agricola Palladino. Then, of course, there are the wines: we have various distributors such as Velier, Les Caves de Pyrene, Vite, Glu Glu wine and others. The cheeses, on the other hand, come from Carena, Az. Agriocola Lo Puy, Guffanti, La Servaja.
With some, we have exclusivity, and we are pleased because it makes the bond even more unique.
What I think is important to underline is that we only work with fresh food, so much so that we are transforming a freezer into a cold room. We have a fast consumption of raw materials, trying to go to exhaustion without ever going to the warehouse, then if something goes forward, we eat it, without waste.
What products do you take from these producers, and what do you create from them?
Working with seasonality is always a discovery: there are days where farmers have nothing. But returning to the point, an example can be the cheek of a calf taken from Olivero: that is a cheek of Fassona, much smaller and tender and young than the other breeds, that we make with sauce and polenta. Or the oxtail, with whose sauce we reduce for risotto and with the tail the stuffing of ravioli. Our workhorse, however, is risotto. The ingredients are fundamental: Ferraris risotto, Bordier butter (from Normandy), and Guffanti parmesan cheese. These are three excellent products from which we obtain a sublime risotto. Even the egg is not very different from us, which we do at the moment, like risotto, with a fondue of different cheeses taken from different suppliers from which I buy only the excellence.
Here we also make bread thanks to a partnership with Taglio (Pizzeria- bakery). Moreover, we also work a lot with waste. For example, with the stems and leaves of broccoli Remo has made pickles. We don’t want to waste; we are intransigent on this.
Do you make a special event called Sunday Magnum, what is it, and why is it born?
The Sunday Magnum – he says with a quick smile – was born in December 2017 in a Goliardic way. It was the last Sunday of the month, and it was cold, chefs often come to us because we are among the few open in the catering sector. That night there was Christian Milone, starred Chef who says, “I feel so at home here, that I just missed cooking.” It was midnight, and the restaurant was full, so I say “go ahead and make your pasta.” He starts in the kitchen, and I open Magnums of wine. So the situation ends at 5.30 am, with lots of fun and a new idea: why not propose it every month, every time with a different chef? In this way, these pop-up dinners were born, where a different chef comes on the first Sunday of the month and, either on a theme or inspired by the guest chefs, who cooks dishes that represent their identity: obviously, I open the magnums.
The initial project of the Bed & Breakfast in Asti is becoming a reality. It’s called Ca’del Profeta: there are the vineyards, the rooms and the kitchen, of course. We are going to keep an eye here and legs there: there is going to be a farm, vegetable garden, for the consumption of the restaurant. Me, Carla, and Christian, the cook, are going to manage the restaurant. All products are going to be either taken internally or from a nearby farm. The vineyards have been producing for 4 years, and are cultivated only with sulfur and copper.
Looking at gastronomy today, do you think new trends influence you?
We are influenced by everything and nothing: the idea is always to do what we like. We don’t want it to be a place for a few, but a place where people sit at home, starting with a glass of aperitif and ending with dinner without realizing it. The aperitif is a first forerunner for us, because it puts the customer at ease, giving him a cuddle, which then decides to stop. If you try to keep up with those who say they want to make new trends but then you stop and say: what are the new trends? It’s a place born for sharing; trends come later.
Luogo Divino is a place for aperitifs or dinners where you will be welcomed in the lounge, at the bar or in the cool outdoor area during the summer. For further information you can consult the website https://www.luogodivino.com or contact email@example.com.