There’s a new Italian in town that has a passion for food, love, music and his hometown, Puglia.
I am sitting at an old teak table in the apartment Roberto Giovanni Attolico shares with his Norwegian girlfriend Martine. The couple recently moved from London to Torshovgata in Oslo where Gio is about to venture into his very own food importing business. I don’t know where to look – at the delicious food in front of me or at the brightly painted orange piano right next to the table. I am happy I invited myself in. It smells good from the stove and I ask if he always wanted to be a chef?
– I would never consider myself a chef, Gio says and pours me a glass of Soria Salento Primitivo.
– I don’t take my cooking serious enough to get close to that definition. What I love about food is the memory that comes with it. The sun dried tomatoes that I’ve been eating for 20 years are on this table. The soppressata (Italian salami) that my mother has been making carrying on a family tradition of over 100 years is right in front of you.
I look down at my plate, at the frittata and pasta fresca con pomodori al forno accompanied by the homemade salami, lemon olive oil, hard ricotta, Caciocavallo cheese and Marmellata di limoni. As a Norwegian foodie that has never been to Italy, I really feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.
– These flavours bring me back to a time when I wasn’t even born. The time of my grandparents during the World War 1 and 2. Back then people had to make something with what they had, which most of the time was barely flour. And yet they could make pretty damn good bread out of it!, Gio says and passes me a basket with freshly baked bread and his grandmother’s home made red wine taralli in it.
– Did you know that Altamurra in Puglia is the only place in the world where McDonald’s had to close shop due to a lack of customers?
Gio waves his wooden spoon at me.
– It was even written about it in The New York Times.
– What made you choose to serve these dishes today?
– Well, I had the hard ricotta in the fridge because I received it in a package from my parents in Puglia last week, and I thought it would be nice to make a dish out of what they sent me. In addition, the weather is hot – and the baked tomato pasta has been a constant companion of my summers since I was a child. Same goes with the frittata – easy, fresh and summery. These two dishes – that are genuine, healthy and taste good – cost me 40 minutes and 200 kroner to make. This is Puglia for you. This is our food culture. We celebrate ingredients more than chefs! We believe that no chef will achieve the level of our grandmothers, but this is another story, Gio laughs.
A quick search on Finn.no gave Gio the amazing opportunity to open a small delicatessen in October 2015, in a dark green 200 year-old building right on the street where he lives. Small producers, friends, family and people with a passion for what they do are key to Gio´s vision.
– In a sense I want to be able to go around presenting my products legitimately claiming “these are the best products in Norway.” I consider myself quite hardcore when it comes to quality, I’ll leave compromises to others, Gio says.
– Also, I want to make sure I still can get hold of the products myself, that’s the main reason why I’m importing them, he says laughing and puts on a huge smile.
Pasta fresca con Pomodori al Forno – fresh pasta with baked cherry tomatoes:
600-700 g sweet cherry tomatoes (ideally Pachino), cut in half
5-7 basil leaves, chopped
2 celeries stalks, chopped
1 chili (remove the seeds), chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic, slice
Place all ingredients in a baking pan. Let it bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Use some fresh pasta (in this case I used Foglie di Ulivo – olive leaves) and let it boil for the suggested time. Mix all together and add some hard ricotta or Parmesan or Pecorino.
1 onion, chopped
1 courgette, diced
100 g parmesan
sun dried tomatoes
Fry the onion in a wok or large frying pan until it gets a golden color. Add courgette and let it soften up and season with salt, black pepper and thinly chopped mint leaves. In the meantime crack the eggs in a bowl and stir with a fork until they become creamy. Season with black pepper and little salt. Mix with the vegetable and grated parmesan. Poor the content in a middle size frying pan and scramble the mix until it dries up. Uniform it to the pan and let it fry for 5 minutes. Turn the frittata using a plate and let it fry on the other side for 3-4 minutes. During this process make sure the frittata doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once ready top with rocket, sun dried tomatoes and olive oil. Let it cool down for 10 minutes before serving.
Check out Gio’s homepage here