Francesco on Radici

Radici, Islington's new Southern Italian trattoria, officially opens its doors on Tuesday 18th April and will see Sartoria's legendary Chef Patron Francesco Mazzei serving up pizza, pasta and rustic dishes inspired by his Calabrian upbringing. We sat down with him to find out what we can expect when its doors open... 

Is Radici an idea you’ve been keen to explore for a long time?
Yes, very much so. I have always wanted to bring my childhood memories of simple, rustic, real southern Italian cooking to my customers here in London.

What made you choose the name Radici?
Simply the meaning behind it, it’s the Italian word for roots and with Radici I am truly going back to my own.

How do you think it will fit into Islington?
I hope Radici will fit into Islington very well. I have worked hard to make sure our offering will fit with the needs of the community and I’m confident the local families will enjoy my cooking

What most excites you about Radici?
Many things: its location in Islington, which has been my family home for 21 years, the style of food, laid-back feeling of the restaurant and Sagrada’s rustic design.

What were the most important things to you when creating Radici?
As I come from the world of fine dining I have paid close attention to keeping the food at Radici very rustic, and not overcomplicating things. Letting provenance and flavour take centre stage.

What similarities will there be between Sartoria and Radici?
We’re going to be using the same ingredients but a completely different style of food. At Sartoria the dishes are more refined, we are the only restaurant on Savile Row and as such pride ourselves on fine dining. At Radici things will be a lot more rustic and relaxed, I want my customers to feel as if they were dining at my own home.

Are you looking forward to having pizzas on the menu? What can we expect them to be like?
Yes, I cannot wait for customers to try my pizzas. I hope they are as good as Salvo brothers’ in Naples. In fact, my younger brother is a pizza master so I will make sure I put his recipe to good use!

Do you have a favourite dish?
I love the involtino di fegato (calves liver stuffed with pancetta, garlic and sage, served with smoked potato mash) and umido di baccala (salt cod with potatoes, tomato sauce, onions, capers and black olives) as both have strong and bold flavours. I grew up eating them so they bring back a lot of memories of my childhood.

What can we expect from the drink selection?
Lots of Southern Italian wines but also some special off-list bottles, which I will keep in the wine cellar. Plus we’re going to have the spectacular Simone Caporale behind the bar. It doesn’t get better than that!

Can you describe Radici in three words?
Rustic, fun, real.

FRANCESCO’S FONDEST FOOD MEMORIES

'Everything my mother cooks, but her rabbit stew and pastachijna (southern Italian lasagne) are my all-time favourites'

'My uncle’s hazelnut ice cream which I grew up eating at his gelateria'

'Three years ago Rowley Leigh cooked roasted John Dory with cep mushrooms and hollandaise sauce for a friend and myself. It was probably one of the best dishes I have ever tasted.'

'Once I was filming in Naples with Channel 4 and went to see the Salvo brothers. They make the most delicious margherita pizza'

FRANCESCO’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK

James Elliott Butchers
A dedicated local meat supplier on my doorstep, how could I not love it?

Natoora
Fantastic Italian produce: owners Franco Fubini and Victorio Maschio have a passion for quality ingredients like no one I have met before.

Delitalia
Martino Meliero brings the best Italian produce to London including Tropea onions and San Vincenzo salami.

Alivini
The best ’nduja from L’Artigiano della ’Nduja alongside fantastic wines!

Passione Vino
A boutique wine supplier dedicated to small, Italian wine producers.

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