In conversation with Franco Doretto

Steve Lancefield and Eataly
Credit Steve Lancefield and Eataly

The team at City Matters sat down with Franco Doretto, Executive Chef at Eataly’s Pasta e Pizza restaurant to discuss all things.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your menu?

A. Eataly’s Pasta e Pizza restaurant menu reflects the rich culinary heritage of Italy, drawing inspiration from iconic Eataly dishes such as Spaghetto Eataly, made with four simple ingredients straight from the market: 100% Italian wheat pasta, red datterino tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh
Genovese basil DOP.

This and other signature dishes highlight the simplicity and quality of their ingredients, guided by our motto of Eat Better, Live Better and rooted in the Mediterranean diet and the traditions of Eataly’s first store in Turin in 2007.

Our menu also embraces seasonality, with its roots in our dedication to sourcing from trusted suppliers, ensuring consistent high-quality ingredients, available from our market. This facilitates a menu that celebrates the timeless flavours of Italy.

Q. Talk us through your love for Italian food.

A. I have always had an appreciation for delectable simple cuisine, resonating with the phrase una buona forchetta, a ‘genuine appreciation for good food’. This appreciation grew when I attended a culinary school open day, watching current students make and later share a large tray of tiramisù with us. When telling my parents about it later, and feeling their excitement for me, it was at that moment I knew I wanted to pursue a culinary career.

What are the key components needed to run a successful kitchen in the city? Running a successful kitchen, is on par to an orchestra, every small part contributes to the bigger picture. Balancing 5000-6000 covers per week requires meticulous planning to ensure cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency. A set of streamlined processes are required to meet the demand for over 100kg of Bolognese sauce, 450 Carbonara, and 300 Capricciosapizzas each week…

The success of these processes is in meticulous planning and synchronicity of our team ensuring each dish meets the high standards of the city.

Q. What’s your favourite dish on the menu?

A. My go-to is always the seasonal special or new additions on the menu. I will always choose pizza over pasta, as the preparation and transformation of pizza dough in a wood-fired oven is truly something special. In winter, I love the comforting flavours of a Friarielli broccoli and Salsiccia pizza. Our ‘nduja and burrata combo, available in the summer is a delight, with its spicy kick and creamy goodness on a Napolitan-style crust.

Q. What are the biggest challenges that you’ve faced in the kitchen, and did you overcome them?

A. In the Pasta e Pizza kitchen, consistently delivering covers for 800 people per day is a huge challenge that requires forward planning and strong teamwork. Another challenge has been sourcing and managing deliveries from Italy, highlighting the importance of developing and maintaining strong relationships with suppliers. Building a good rapport with suppliers has been instrumental in overcoming these challenges, ensuring our kitchen has everything it needs to consistently exceed expectations.

Q. What’s your biggest achievement?

A. I started at Eataly as an Executive Sous Chef in September 2022, and within just six months, I had the opportunity to lead across Eataly London’s kitchens, that led to my promotion to Executive Chef, something I am hugely proud of. Being a part of designing a menu from scratch and the kitchen at Bardo, St. James’s was also a proud moment in my career.

Q. What do you love most about Eataly?

A. Eataly is not just a restaurant but also a dynamic and vibrant destination where you can experience the concept of, we cook what we sell, and we sell what we cook. Whether enjoying a delicious burrata or sipping on a fine wine, the unique aspect of visiting our market to take the same flavours home stands us apart our seamless connection between the kitchen and the market allows us to utilise the 6000 market products on offer, and enhance our entire customer experience, from learning about the produce to the lively atmosphere, it really is a celebration of good food.

Q. Which other Italian restaurants in the city do you love?

A. To name a few, Italian restaurants I appreciate include Luca with its commitment to quality ingredients, and a menu that evolves with the seasons – their pasta is really great! Another standout is Bardo in St. James’s I was there to see the restaurant develop and open. It is a great Italian restaurant that skilfully blends traditional dishes with a modern twist. While I love these places, I can confidently say, that when it comes to Eataly, we take pride in doing it better!

Q. Which chefs in the city do you take inspiration from?

A. I have a lot of admiration for Heston Blumenthal. His three Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant stands out for its innovative techniques and unique flavour combinations, offering a different approach to cooking. On the other hand, Aldo Zilli is the epitome of culinary success with restaurants like Zilli Fish and Signor Zilli. His TV appearances, love for Italian cuisine, and deep knowledge of traditional Italian cooking make him an inspiring figure for many chefs. Both chefs bring a unique and valuable perspective to the culinary scene.

Q. What’s in the pipeline for 2024 for Eataly?

A. 2024 brings with it some exciting things to look forward to, as we explore restaurant collaborations, that promise to bring unique culinary experiences to our guests. One upcoming highlight includes a special collaboration with artisanal pasta prooducer Afeltra, where we will make fresh homemade pasta for a one-off dish. Our culinary team is also hard at work, crafting intriguing menus that showcase the diverse and delicious flavours that make Eataly a go-to destination for food enthusiasts. Stay tuned for an unforgettable journey in the coming year!

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