If they are not practicing their tackles or scrums in the rugby playing field, they are busy cooking and serving their clients with their fine dishes and wines. Rugby mates and co-proprietors Alberto Martelli, Manfredi Custureri and Tommaso Venuti, assume their respective roles, maitre d’ and sommelier, restaurant manager and chef, at their newly opened restaurant, Almatò.
Almatò, an acronym that represents their names, is a refined 28-seat restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere in the area of Prati in Rome. The minimal style with a linear design of wood and metal in neutral tones of gray and black and blue highlights was designed by Chef Venuti who took architectural studies at the university. The environment is consistent with the kitchen, respecting the canons of sharpness and straightforwardness. With the toned down setting and a good play of lighting, the spotlight is reserved on the dishes served on the table.
In the kitchen is Tommaso Venuti, who at such a young age has already put up a respectable curriculum. A graduate of Alma International School of Italian Cuisine, one of Italy’s best culinary school located in Colorno, he subsequently worked in the kitchen of two Michelin-starred Villa Crespi Relais & Chateaux of Antonino Cannavacciuolo which was then followed by a year in one Michelin-starred Marcus Restaurant in London of Marcus Wareing. Back in Rome, he joined the court of chefs of Heinz Beck of three Michelin-starred La Pergola for four years.
Alberto Martelli instead takes on the role of coordinating the dining room and the wine cellar. Having been raised in a family of restaurateurs of four generations in Rome, he has always loved wandering around the tables and meeting the diners at his family’s restaurant. Manfredi Custureri manages the restaurant. A graduate of Economics at LUISS in Rome, he combines his talent, knowledge in management with his love for good food which directed his path in managing the restaurant.
Venuti’s kitchen has a linear trait which concentrates on tastes and characterized by precision. The raw ingredients are kept to a minimum with the aim of being recognizable in the palate despite the complexities of their preparation. Fundamentally, there is absolute respect for the seasonality and quality of the raw materials.
“In my view,” explains Tommaso Venuti, “all dishes must be, in their entirety, legible and usable to the widest possible audience. My dishes always start from a traditional basis and evolve according to my personal research work. The ultimate goal is in any case to extract the maximum of taste, thinking primarily of customer satisfaction. I owe a lot to chef Heinz Beck: in the four years I spent in La Pergola I can say that I learned the profession of cook, understood not only as a culinary philosophy but also as the management of a kitchen and a restaurant .”
“The interest in food,” underline Manfredi Custureri and Alberto Martelli, “has always been something central for all of us. After accumulating the right experience, we understood that the time had come to give life to our dream, that is, a place of our own. In Almatò everyone brought his own contribution according to his skills and tastes (the latter always fairly similar). The restaurant has its own well-defined identity, a place with a refined and friendly atmosphere, suitable for multiple occasions and where anyone can feel comfortable. “
The menu carries five proposals for each course that range from the land to the sea. Appetizers (€14 to €18) include Scampi, Radicchio and Roots which perfectly epitomizes the kitchen that the chef wants to represent highlighting the fresh raw materials and their quality. The flavors of each component are well distinguishable. The First Courses of Pasta and Risotto are priced between €14 to €2. A must try is the Ravioli di Coda (ravioli filled with Roman oxtail stew, bitter herbs and mirepoix sauce) which is perfectly balanced in flavors and consistency. The Main Courses of Fish and Meat are between €23 to €26. An interesting dish, the Duck, Purple Potatoes, Scallions and Lavender, highlights the persistent delicacy that the lavender gives to the whole dish apart from the tenderness of the meat. The Desserts (€10), created by Venuti as well represents contemporary and lightened versions of some classic desserts. The wine list carries 80 Italian and international labels of small and prominent producers.
In addition to the à la carte proposals, there are two Tasting Menus available which are Tasting at €50 for 5 courses and Experience at €70 for 7 courses. For lunch (Mondays to Fridays), a lighter formula of Lunch Tasting (€30) of 3 courses is available which is designed for a quick lunch break and can be guaranteed with a fast service of 30 minutes.