They started out by marketing aperitives and snacks like bars and nightclubs but nowadays, Passafiume Cantina Bistrot has opened its own kitchen and has become an eatery. This is not just any kitchen. It is very modern and has been completely revamped and most of all, the restaurant is not just any restaurant! The owners, in fact, had a very precise idea as to what this should be like: an elite, refined ambience that would be easily identifiable as different from the rest.
How did the concept of Passafiume Cantina Bistrot come about?
«It was born out of a desire to create a setting that was different from everything else there is in this city, whether that was due to its location, or because of its more elite, more refined ambience. Our clientele here is able to stand out from the crowd as they rediscover the taste of real food and drink something that is somewhat more up-market than the norm. »
The choice of location was therefore quite unequivocal…
«Yes, as soon as we saw that this place was for rent we quickly realised that this was the ideal venue even if it meant we would still have to work hard on it. Obviously the first season would be a trial run enabling us to understand what type of cuisine we wanted to focus on, how to entice the local public and then also how to entice foreign visitors. »
What are Passafiume’s strengths?
«We are focusing on the quality of the wines. There is a menu with produce from the local area which has been redone and is perhaps a little bit more modern in order to give the dishes a slightly different image. The chef is just 25 years old and he wants to learn and experiment. He has worked in other places but now for the first time, he is in his own kitchen. This is year zero. We opened in the winter, starting off just with aperitives. We have already created something different in this field serving a basic cutting board with bruschetta and hummus, which is a theme that we are revisiting and various creams and tarallucci (a type of cracker). We are playing around a bit with the flavours and we’re doing the same with the drinks, for example, serving gin & tonic flavoured with orange blossom – you never know, it may become the local “in” thing to drink! Why not? ».
How would you define the restaurant’s cuisine?
«We focus on local, high-quality produce for a relatively small menu on which we are better able to concentrate. It is a menu that can be changed every day with some special variations on the blackboard. The day’s specials will be based on what is fresh from the market. Every day you consider what you are going to serve the following day. It is great to have a menu that isn’t fixed so that the dishes can evolve based on what is seasonally available and of good quality so as to produce a beautiful product and work with it in different ways».
Going back to the subject of the restaurant’s strengths, in addition to the changing menu and the quality, what else does Passafiume have to offer?
«We organise live music, mainly jazz. We need to find more suitable artists. The goal for the summer is to serve aperitives outside and we are getting ourselves organised for that. We have already had parties with a DJ., the place is really suitable for all types of different occasions. In the evenings, for example, we turn down all the lights, just leaving those on the bar switched on – it becomes very like a club atmosphere. We have had a burlesque show and a winter audience from Berlin, in other words, we are able to attract a certain type of clientele. We are open every day with timings to suit a long breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner and then of course there is always the bar where you can relax and enjoy a cocktail. This is the reason why we have called it a bistro as opposed to just calling it a restaurant. We also have what we call “social” tables which can be organised for groups or used for a buffet or as somewhere for singles to meet and get to know each other. This is a trend that has been popular abroad for some years and provides another opportunity for getting to meet new people and make new friends».
We are an informal venue and that’s one of the reasons why we decided to call it a “bistro cellar” and not a restaurant which we thought would be too constricting. We don’t want to be defined and classified.
And this is the essence of Passafiume Cantina Bistrot which, as the owners admit themselves, is a place without definition, diversified by its very nature not just in the kitchen but also through the searching out and using of seasonal produce that is of good quality which guides the choices on the menu as well as how the business itself is set up to simultaneously accommodate those who want to eat and those who simply want to enjoy the music whilst enjoying a lovely cocktail.