Acclaimed Italian chef Massimo Bottura tells Eater in an exclusive interview that he and Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri are discussing a potential restaurant in Beverly Hills. Bottura is the chef and owner of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, which reclaimed the top spot on the World’s 50 Best restaurants this year. The first Gucci Osteria di Massimo Bottura opened early in 2018 in Florence, Italy, and has been a great success, according to Bottura.
“Gucci has a rooftop on Rodeo Drive in the store, with a private entrance,” Bottura explained. “It’s an amazing building. The way we are playing in Florence is the same way Gucci is playing with fashion. Taking details from the past 70 years and matching with new ideas to create a new aesthetic. A new fashion. A new word. Pushing boundaries. We are playing in the same way at Osteria Gucci.”
Bottura says he’s in talks for a new Osteria Gucci restaurants focused on Beverly Hills and Tokyo’s Ginza district. Either location would be a win in his eyes.
“I don’t want to open New York, I don’t want to open Paris, London. Beverly Hills or Ginza,” Bottura emphasized. “Ginza would be challenging. They love me in Japan. Japanese people are crazy about Osteria Francescana because we are obsessed about the quality of the ingredients.”
Eater reached out to Gucci, who did not provide a comment.
Bottura was in LA for a brief visit, participating in Identita Golose’s (an Italian food magazine) promotion of Italian food and Eataly at the Westfield Century City mall. Bottura explained to about 100 guests how to taste risotto with pumpkin and Sicilian orange juice. He took the zest from a completely dehydrated and charred whole orange and used his own brand of balsamic vinegar to season it. Bottura served the risotto alongside a dish served in a movie popcorn cup that combined felicetti spaghettone with parmesan and toasted popcorn. Bottura called it “Alfredo meets popcorn.” This kind of mash-up is what Bottura appreciates about the food scene in Los Angeles.
“There’s a lot of mixture,” Bottura said. “I love the idea of Korea meets Mexico. Cuisine that has been developed in the back part of all these supermarkets where Koreans and Mexicans work together and they eat together. So, Korean barbecue goes into tacos. That’s very important.”
Bottura cited the guest-chef appearance made by his friend, Nancy Silverton, at Koreatown’s Sumo Dog early in 2018. “Nancy Silverton meets Sumo Dog and creates an amazing hot dog. And you can have an experience of a chef collaborating on street food. That’s LA. That’s LA!”
On this trip to LA, Bottura ate at his friend Roy Choi’s A-Frame and at the expensive and cutting edge restaurant Vespertine, which Bottura likens to the performing arts.
“Vespertine is an incredible, challenging thing to do in a place like LA,” Bottura said. “Actually, all over the world. Very few people are ready right now in 2018 to spend like four, four and a half hours and live that kind of experience. For me it’s very easy. It’s not my job, it’s my pleasure. It’s my passion.”
Bottura is not sure LA’s wealthy “Hollywood” types care about what Vespertine is doing. “It’s more intellectual. Most of the things are not good food, eh?” Bottura asserted. “I think they need time to develop and to look for different perspectives of what they are doing. But it could be a very important push for Los Angeles.”
Bottura also extolled the virtues of the “amazing” fish and seafood in Michael Cimarusti’s Providence. On his way to the airport, Bottura, a fan of Shake Shack, said he was going to stop and pick up a burger at In ‘N Out and one at The Habit. No word yet on which burger he preferred.