In Roccagorga, province of Latina, there’s a great restaurant where everything is cooked over a grill (even pasta and desserts)

May 23 2024, 13:34
Four tables and a fireplace dominate the scene and the venture. At La Tana dei Carbonari, we had an excellent meal, thanks to 25-year-old Marco Bruni, who has taken the reins of the family restaurant in Roccagorga

Don’t follow your GPS blindly; it will take you the wrong way. Marco Bruni knows this and sends a message with directions to customers who book at La Tana dei Carbonari. The destination is a house in Roccagorga, a village of 4,000 inhabitants in the province of Latina, transformed thirteen years ago into a restaurant by Bruno Bruni and Loredana Ferretti, who also own the Latina frequencies of radio Lattemiele.

Marco Bruni, the apprenticeship aimed at coming home

"It was my grandparents' house, my dad was born here, and in 2013, he and my mum decided to open La Tana dei Carbonari dedicated to the Unification of Italy, with typical recipes from various regions," says Marco Bruni, born in 1999, who has been immersed in his parents' passion for food and wine from a young age, so much so that he graduated from the hotel management school in Latina and then learned the trade in Spain. "Through Erasmus+, I went to Madrid for a few months' internship at Ambigú. For the first time, I worked with a professional chef, having only had seasonal summer experiences before."
After finishing the internship, he joined the kitchen at Gucci Osteria in Florence, which was opening a pop-up in Singapore at the time, "most of the team left, and I was given significant responsibilities from the start." After six months, he moved to Alba to work alongside Damiano Nigro, then to London at StreetXo by David Muñoz until its closure due to Covid, spent a few months at Taverna Estia in Brusciano, and then was called back by the Francescana Family, this time to work as the head of the main courses at Franceschetta. "Here, I can also work on cold and hot appetizers and desserts." All for one goal: "To return to my parents' restaurant with as much experience and knowledge as possible," to handle both classic and avant-garde cuisine.

What to eat at La Tana dei Carbonari

In 2021, he returned to the “den” in Roccagorga, bringing along two colleagues and friends he met at Franceschetta. Together, they inaugurated the new season of La Tana dei Carbonari - then the two left for other places and new experiences "rightly so, although one has promised to return!" - with the fireplace serving as a bridge between the old and new generations and a thoughtful market-driven cuisine, where local products, enhanced by precise cooking methods, acquire an international and contemporary touch. Think of grilled endive with Cintarella fat, bacon, and ponzu sauce or the "simple" grilled Cintarella.

"Not having distributors and collaborating with small local realities is limiting in that I don't have a vast range of products to choose from, but it also allows us to offer unique dishes. Like the Cintarella Bassianese that I personally fetch from a local breeder and cook on the fireplace, serving it without sauces or sides to highlight the quality of the meat."

Grilled pasta and desserts

Indeed, everything here speaks of the territory, from Sezze artichoke stuffed with Roman-style artichoke ice cream made with the stalks, to risotto cooked with light water, with local goat cheese, chicory coffee, and paprika and pepper caramel, to the taco that revisits the traditional goat stew recipe without using tomatoes, "it’s goat marinated with South American spices, like annatto which gives it a nice red color." Marco even grills the pasta, using a kind of colander as a pan (excellent are the mezze maniche with a pleasantly “elastic” texture, with saffron, homemade butter, and lamb offal), and the desserts, like the classic carrot cake. "Convincing my parents to make changes wasn’t difficult; they were the ones who convinced me to come back, even though they always pushed me to travel." And the young chef will continue to do so during holidays or days off; he is currently following the work of a local winery to learn its secrets. "Sure, my mum was a bit skeptical at first, maybe she expected a cuisine more in line with hers, but now she’s the first to make changes to decidedly non-traditional preparations, from Japanese sauces to South American spice mixes." This, too, is a successful generational mix.

Roccagorga (LT) - via XX Settembre, 35 - 3517434838 -

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