Just in her twenties, Chef Stella Shi has trod determinedly on a gastronomic road less traveled by others. Born and raised in Italy to Chinese parents who originated in Shanghai with a formal education that took her to a much different route, her love for cooking overpowered her planned path to her law school education. Thus, the sudden trampoline to culinary studies.
Her destination: Alma Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana in Colorno, Italy, one of the best culinary schools in the country guided by the late Gualtiero Marchese.
After formalizing her basic and higher culinary studies in Alma, the professional training in the kitchens of restaurants took her to another part of Italy at La Locanda di Poero and La Peca di Lonigo. London came next at Le Gavroche of Michel Roux then Hongkong for modern Chinese cuisine.With the exemplary culinary formation in Alma, the collective professional experience in both sides of the globe and the two cultures she knows perfectly well, Stella’s starting point at Cu_cina was already one step ahead.
Her gastronomic approach uses primarily Italian and French methodology with input of Chinese elements.
Her dishes are intriguing windows in getting to know two completely diverse worlds in one setting. Although the western side has more influence in her innovative plates, the oriental incorporation balances the package of comprehensive uniqueness.
Her style of subtle introduction of oriental attributes are friendly to the western palates.
Take for example the Bottoni, zucchine alla scapece or soused zucchini (fried first then preserved in vinegar-based liquid) gelatin of mint and vinegar and friggitello or the Katsudon of Veal served with water spinach and caper sauce. Both dishes have elements of both cuisines and they have the right equilibrium to be appreciated.
Cu_cina was opened by Stella in January 2018.
While she commands the kitchen with other chefs from Alma, her sister Simona Shi manages the needs of their clients in the dining area. Minimal and modern with 15 round tables that accommodate 53, what catches the attention is the completely open kitchen at the end of the restaurant which is divided with a glass wall to separate it from the dining room. The mood it creates is a silent interaction with the activities in the kitchen, witnessing how the dishes are prepared and observing the fast rhythm that the chefs follow. The prices are reasonable with an option to have a tasting menu of five courses at €60. The appetizers are between €13 to €17, the first plates of pasta and risotto are between €15 to €24, the main courses of meat and fish averaging at €26 and the desserts at €10 to €14. For more updated prices and information, go to their Facebook page.
Salita del Grillo, 6B
00184 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 45615220
Open on Tuesdays to Saturdays for dinner and Sundays for lunch and dinner
Closed on Mondays