Chef Adalberto Battaglia aka Adha hails from the West Ligurian Riviera but his food is influenced by different regions of Italy, and a stint in the Canaries and the Caribbean.
Which part of Italy is the West Ligurian Riviera?
This is the description of it according to Master Chef Alain Ducasse who lives and works in Monaco:
“To me there is not the French side in one hand and the Italian side on the other hand. To me it only exists the Riviera, which it means one country only, Only one costal strip that connects Nice to Genoa. The culinary tradition and the territory of this area are consistent either from a cultural and geographical point of view.”
But Adalberto Battaglia is definitively native of the Italian side of the Riviera, more precisely from Ventimiglia. This small but charming city lies on the cost just across the border and is well known for the amazing coastline views westward including some hidden gems surfing beaches, the popular Food Friday Market, the history museum of Balzi Rossi where people goes to visit the “paleolithic Riviera habitation” of Neanderthal Man, and the Botanic Hanbury Gardens founded by Sir Tomas Hanbury in Victorian times, with an enormous variety of plants from a peak to the sea.
The Romans in ancient times built the Aurelia Road, which still exist and connects the Ligurian Riviera to Rome, riding some five hundreds miles across all the Mediterranean coast of Tuscany and Lazio.
Adalberto Battaglia spent many years of his life living and working in Rome, where its passion for food and the Italian culinary heritage reached its top.
Rome is the city of the Quinto Quarto, i.e. the “odd bites”; among the richness of the variety of cured meat, selections of cheese and earthy vegetables that the roman cuisine offers.
The culinary tradition of roman food consists of “nose to tail eating” because in ancient times the workers at the butchers usually took home the rest f the animal butchered as part of their pay. So in Rome, an entire cuisine was created from offal, which has been much refined and highly recognised today like Trippa al Pomodoro (veal tripe with tomato sauce), Coda alla Vaccinara (ox-tail roman style), Carbonara and Amatriciana sauces for pastas basically made with “guanciale” (unsmoked pig’s cheeks bacon) that Rome is famous for, among many other dishes including Pizza con Salsiccia e Broccoletti (pizza with sprout broccoli and sausages).
The roman “trattoria” is a unique place where the delight of Italian “art of enjoying food and wine and being together” has no comparison anywhere else. The pleasure of eating and drinking together with friends becomes a way of life. And there are also some modern expression of “trattoria”, in which a synergy with the past is recreated but also taken to an higher profile at the same time.
Adalberto Battaglia awarded the equivalent of two Rosettes by prestigious Gambero Rosso Restaurants Guide in Italy with the successful restaurant Locanda in the Pigneto some time ago.
While in London, at a recent pop up in Clerkenwell called Quinto/Quarto, he introduced a menu of modern Roman dishes including his innovative interpretation of slow cooked oxtail with cocoa beans. Being so close to Smithfield Market, the menu was influenced by availability of all the high quality produce in season.
As we know, the London culinary scene has recently seen a trend of restaurants offering “odd bits” as bellies, cheeks, brisket, hocks, marrow, necks, shanks and tongues and so forth, as part of their menus.
British Master Chef Fregus Henderson quoted about that in the following way:
“Once you knock an animal on the head it is only polite to eat the whole animal”
It looks like a mission to Adalberto Battaglia and several other chefs at present days, to restore the respect for the whole animal, developing a taste for the lesser known parts.
Not forgetting that the “nose to tail eating” can refer to seafood too. And Adalberto Battaglia innate passion for the sea and its products, is a never ending love that keep offering him intuitions for the creation of new signed dishes, always specials and of any kind.
Adha‘s earlier career
Adalberto Battaglia (who used also the pseudonym Adha Bataya when working in London some years ago), before he was 30, was already chef of a renowned restaurant in Southern Tenerife, Montana de Tindaya – in Los Cristianos. His restaurant started out as a vegetarian restaurant. It was an experimental food laboratory where his inspirations and creativity were able reach great heights. This restaurant became celebrated for the pasta dishes and the pizzas made with whole grains, and his especially sophisticated meat substitutes like his home made tofu and seitan.
In 2001, he started working for the Alphabet Group as Executive Chef and performed every night at the beautifully designed Amber in the heart of Soho in the West End of London. His reception was phenomenal from both the public and critics such as Fay Maschler from the Evening Standard in October 2001.
He also worked with Eamonn Fullalove (who is been Jamie Oliver’s Head Chef for several years) during some of the Amber early days, and at other top restaurants in London such as the Marco Pierre White Group’s Quo Vadis in Dean Street (Soho), Alloro and Rosmarino, when belonging to the prestigious A to Z Restaurant Group where chefs of the calibre of Giorgio Locatelli e. g. also started his career . He worked with the pioneer of the high end Italian restaurants in the UK Franco Taruschio too, when he was consulting for different restaurants; and more recently with legendary double-starred Chef Stefano Cavallini at 5Pollen Street in Mayfair.