The Guidicellis share family recipes, and why they don’t serve pizza
Trattoria da Gianni is an extension of the Guidicelli family’s dinner table, a family kitchen guised as a restaurant, not least because of the home-style cooking that comes out of the kitchen but for the simple reason that, as Giorgia Guidicelli admits, “[The family] basically just eats here now, since we don’t have cooks at home [anymore].”
The restaurant is managed by father and daughter duo Gianluca and Giorgia Guidicelli. Asked how they manage to work together as a team, Gianluca’s response is charming, “How we work as a team? No, we work as a family.”
The trattoria, nestled among the lines of restaurant at Crossroads, is an homage to the late family patriarch Gianni Guidicelli. His love for food and family was synonymous, seen in simple expressions like sending bottles of his favorite Italian bottled water, Acqua Panna, to the members of the Guidicelli family staying in Manila. But while he insisted on importing main ingredients from Italy to ensure authentic Italian flavors, Gianni preferred his meals to be simple and uncomplicated, the way his wife Franca and the family cooks, Jean and Antonia, made them at home.
“My father didn’t like eating out at Italian restaurants here. He used to say, ‘I only eat good food when I am in the house. Why aren’t more people cooking the way that Jean and Antonia are cooking?’” says Gianluca. The two favored cooks served the Guidicellis for almost 30 years. After Gianni passed away, Gianluca offered the women a part in the family restaurant. From the family kitchen, they now work in the trattoria’s back of the house as cooks and part owners, still serving dishes according to the late Gianni’s taste.
“My father, he didn’t like complicated dishes in other [Italian] restaurants. He liked things simple. For him, the best sauce was just plain tomato sauce or plain butter with ravioli,” says Gianluca.
With a preference for simplicity, a meal at Trattoria da Gianni requires no lengthy degustation. There are no notes or hints here, just straightforward flavors and textures highlighting the curated ingredients Gianluca sources from Italy. “I don’t like to mix my olives. We get olive oil from Tuscany and Umbria. Our cheeses come from Campania and Naples because they have the best cheeses.”
Trattoria da Gianni’s menu, in fact, is a smorgasbord of dishes featuring quality Italian ingredients. The Tris di Mozzarella, a parade of fior di latte, bufala, and burrata, is delightful eaten by itself or placed atop a slice of ciabatta from La Panetteria di Luigi, owned by Gianluca’s brother Francesco, who provides freshly baked bread to the restaurant every day.
Pizza is curiously absent, owing to the restaurant’s lack of a traditional oven, which Gianluca and Giorgia insist is how pizza should be made. “When someone asks me if we have pizza, I just tell them to go to La Nostra,” says Gianluca. Giorgia is referring to Michael Cancio’s La Nostra Pizzeria Napoletana, another steadfast voice in championing authentic Italian food. In place of the usual pizza, the trattoria offers a selection of bruschetta that’s as playful
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: BRUSCHETTE, SCAMORZA AFFUMICATA,
AND TRIS DI MOZZARELLA