Italian restaurant on the Russian market: the difficulties of doing business
Of course, during the opening and development of the restaurant, some plans had to be adjusted in accordance with Russian realities.
How to open a real Italian restaurant in Moscow. Vincenzo Trani about the Spago Restaurant.
Vincenzo Trani is the president of the GRUPPO SISI holding, the president of the Mikro Kapital sarl fund and the president of the leasing company Mikro Leasing. Expanding his field of activity in the Russian market, Senor Trani opened the Spago restaurant, and then the Spago bar in the very center of Moscow. The restaurant quickly gained a reputation as one of the best Italian restaurants in Moscow. Especially for BusinessTimes, Mr. Trani explained why not every Italian restaurant is Italian, what is the difference between the Russian and Italian approach to restaurant business and why it is so important where the products for business lunches come from.
About the restaurant SPAGO they write that it is “one of the best examples of Italian cuisine in Moscow.” When did you decide to open a restaurant in Moscow, was the task originally set up to open a high-class restaurant?
When I had the opportunity to engage in the restaurant business, along with my other projects, I realized that, first of all, I would make the restaurant “for myself”. I have been living in Russia for a long time and I have many friends and partners, both Russian and foreign. First of all, I wanted to make a restaurant in which I myself would like to bring my business partners, friends, acquaintances, so that it would be cozy and comfortable; and secondly, I wanted to recreate a peculiar corner of Italy in Moscow to show my guests what a real Italian restaurant is. To create authentic dishes, it was initially decided to arrange the delivery of products from Italy, the development of this concept led to the design of the restaurant, and further development. Spago is a restaurant designed for connoisseurs of true Italy, it is really a high-class restaurant. But I want to draw attention to the fact that high class does not mean pathos. High class in my understanding is elegance, unique style and quality in everything.
How was the restaurant concept developed?
The concept of “Spago” can be formulated as follows: Italy in all its manifestations. First of all, this is the menu. Traditional Italian dishes are much more and more interesting than pizza and pasta familiar to all Russians. These are wines collected from the most famous and most interesting corners of Italy. And of course, this is the interior. The interior of Russian Italian restaurants is very different from Italian restaurants in Italy. In Italy, you rarely see, for example, sofas instead of chairs for guests, but in Russia this is very common. Attention to such details, in my opinion, manages to create a special atmosphere of the restaurant. I must say that many of my Italian partners have already appreciated Spago. We often hold various events for Italians in Moscow. For example, on September 10, as part of the Year of Italy in Russia, the works of the Italian artist Antonello da Messina, an iconic figure in the art of the Early Renaissance, will be brought to Moscow, to the Tretyakov Gallery. Spago, together with the Italian Embassy, will host a gala dinner in honor of this event. We also regularly hold exhibitions dedicated to various aspects of life and the art of Italy. I consider this my small contribution to the popularization of Italian culture in Russia.
How did you compose the menu and the wine list? The main nuances.
When compiling the menu, special attention was paid not only to Italian dishes popular in Russia, the emphasis was on Neapolitan and Sicilian cuisine. And wine, of course, should go perfectly with dishes. We selected the best wines from various regions of Italy, but it is easy to guess that, for example, Sicilian wine is perfect for a Sicilian dish. And to complete the dinner, in this case, it is best Sicilian dessert!
When and why did you decide to open a bar nearby? Was this in the original design?
Italian cuisine is initially democratic. By the way, the well-known pizza in difficult times was almost the only available and at the same time tasty food for residents of Italy. Yes, we initially wanted to make a more democratic version of Spago. This is how the “Spago” bar appeared – a small institution decorated in a modern, I would say, futuristic style, with the same authentic Italian cuisine as in the restaurant. You can go to this bar in the morning for a cup of coffee, in the afternoon for lunch, and in the evening to sit with friends, listen to music and dance. I think it’s right to upgrade the same successful concept to different audiences.
In Russia, there is already a wide network of Italian restaurants. How should your restaurant be different from the existing Academies and Mother’s Pastes?
First of all, Spago is distinguished by the fact that the restaurant is completely Italian. Both the owner and the cook are Italians, and this gives some advantage. It can be difficult for an Italian chef in Russia to convince his foreign (for example, Russian) leadership to follow one or another philosophy of Italian cuisine.