When Simone Nardoni moved Essenza to the seaside town of Terracina from Pontinia in 2019, he started to accumulate feathers in his cap. Not long after the relocation, he became a part of the JRE-Jeunes Restaurateurs, a prestigious association of chefs of fine dining restaurants around the globe that safeguard their territory with the highest level of quality. A year later, in December 2020, a very important accolade was bestowed to him: he received a Michelin star. Recognition from major Italian guides arrived as well, L’Espresso giving him two caps and Gambero Rosso with two forks.
Born in 1987 in a town in Latina, Simone realized his love for cooking from the women of the family, his mother and grandmother. The aromas of home cooking is perhaps one of the most beautiful and influential way that a child can have. Indeed his studies were immediately geared towards the path of becoming a chef and his significant training experiences took him from Latina with Chef Gianluigi Alla to Mugartiz in Spain with Chef Andoni Aduriz, a restaurant considered as one of the best in the world. More experiential learning followed suit in Norway and Alto Adige until he came back to his roots, his home and in 2011, he gathered the courage to open his own restaurant in Pontinia.
At the kitchen, Simone reinvents a cuisine that is a concurrence of old tradition, territory and modern approach. He redefines the dishes to a refurbished version while the genuine flavors reminiscent of the old recipe prevail. In spite of the contemporary aspect of his dishes, one thing that’s vital to him is recapturing the tastes and perfumes of his childhood in the kitchen. Shy by nature, cooking permits him to express what special qualities he has, in the most remarkable way. He has a line of thought that hard work is rewarded by achievements and when he does attain them, the first one who is surprised is always himself. Humble in nature that gets across his cooking where delicate flavors integrate in unwavering firmness. The philosophy of zero waste is one of the most fundamental features of his kitchen. He lessens the waste by recovering what he can and he tries to be creative with them, resulting in surprising tasty flavors.
Essenza is just a stone’s throw away from the beach of the seaside town of Terracina giving a glimpse of the Temple of Jupiter Anxur sitting on Monte Giove. Stone, metal and wood in neutral warm colors comprise the look of the stylish restaurant. The main feature of the place is a whole wall dedicated to wines, shining the spotlight on the supporting protagonist of the restaurant. With continuous research, the wine list ranges from chosen small producers in Italy, France, Germany and Spain, giving the total of the collection to around 650 labels which is being handled by their sommelier Mara Severin. A gourmet cuisine deserves the complement of excellent wines to take out their best characteristics. Boosting Simone on the other side of the restaurant is his wife, Ilary Mandadari, who directs the dining room.
While seafood is the main element of the kitchen, meat is also offered in the menu. There’s a free choice of dishes in whatever order you want to take them. Guests are invited to step out of the box and not follow the traditional scheme of appetizers, first courses of pasta and risotto, and second courses. The gastronomic experience proceeds according to how you want it. A la carte entries are between €26 for the pasta, to €35 on the average and the desserts at €15. Dishes with particular ingredients like Japanese and Australian Wagyu are around €60 to €75, spaghetti with caviar at €50 while the tasting menu is around €120.
Via Cavour, 38
04019 Terracina (LT), Italy
Tel: +39 0773 369762
Open daily for lunch and dinner except Wednesdays