|Mr. Raimondo Sabella, owner of Lo Skipper|
by Ilaria Gelichi
We decided to dedicate a new column to the idea of beauty and the sense of ethic in a sector where nobody would think to find this kind of values: restaurants in Florence. We will search for special places where tradition is still alive and strong, but without giving up originality and sometimes innovation.
We could not open this column in a better way than with Lo Skipper, situated in Via degli Alfani 78/r, in the heart of the historical center of Florence. We met Mr. Raimondo Sabella, owner and main chef at Lo Skipper, who very kindly accepted to answer to our questions.
- Since when does Lo Skipper exist in Florence?
Lo Skipper was born 17 years ago on the ashes of a sailing club, but I have been working in the restaurant sector for 40 years. In Florence the most part of restaurants and trattorias offer regional (Tuscan) cuisine or pizza, but I decided to swim against the tide and offer another kind of cuisine: typical dishes from other regions and from abroad.
|Appetizer: Cornetti di mare (tuna rolls filled with goat cheese and shrimps)|
- Who is the chef and where does he come from?
The chef is me, and my daughter – who is cook too – helps me in the kitchen; she is specialized in pastry making. I live in Florence since 50 years but I was born in Sicily, and I brought with me the love for the sea and sailing – that’s why I created a restaurant with a marine atmosphere. For some time I worked with Gualtiero Marchesi, (great Italian chef, famous all over the world, founder of the “new Italian cuisine” – ed.) but I also traveled all over the world to learn more about foreign cuisine - achieving the qualification of international chef.
- What kind of cuisine we can find at Lo Skipper?
We mainly offer seafood, but also international cuisine. The basis are traditional Sicilian dishes, with specialties from other regions and international dishes. Anyway, not only tradition: some recipes are revised to bring originality, others are our creations. Our menu changes each month: at the moment we offer Turkish, Moroccan and Greek specialties (for example, the couscous both Sicilian and Moroccan style), beside traditional Sicilian dishes such as spaghetti with breadcrumbs and pasta alla Norma (with tomato, eggplant and ricotta cheese), but also specialties from Piemonte and Puglia.
We are proud to say that each ingredient is selected and comes directly from the home region or country of the recipe. We prepare the dish at the moment, nothing is precooked; sauces are made at the moment with pasta and the same is for main courses with fish or meat. So if you’ll have to wait a little for your dish, that’s the reason!
|First course: Caserecce with mussels, eggplant, tomatoes, olives and cheese|
Lo Skipper has 45 seats and our opening time is 12-3 PM for lunch and 8 PM – 12 AM for dinner. At dinner we accept customers only with reservation, and not later than 9 PM. For lunch, we mainly have university professors, professionals of the area and shopkeepers who come here for their lunch break. In effect at lunch the restaurant turns itself in a trattoria of the past, where you can eat a quality lunch at a good price. So normally we have Italians, loyal customer who have been coming here for years and tourists in little part.
- Which is the average price for a dish at Lo Skipper?
The price for appetizers and first courses (pasta, risotto, etc.) goes between 7 and 13 Euro; for main courses with fish or meat between 15 and 17 Euro. I want to specify that – unlike other restaurants – at Lo Skipper you won’t pay for cover charge, bread and coffee, because you are our guests. Moreover, first courses include drinks (water and wine) and some main courses include both a side dish and drinks (water and wine). With every dessert (except ice creams) comes a typical wine or liquor paired with it, of course included in the price.
|Dessert: famous Sicilian cannolo with a glass of Malvasia|
Beside the loyal customers, during the last years I have noticed that the number of young people has increased. More young people prefer now restaurants to pizzerias or fast-foods; there is much more attention to quality than to price. They now search for more quality and appreciate eating well but they have to be educated to wine (they drink much more Coke, Fanta, etc. than wine) – and here you can find only water and wine, not Coke! I graduated as sommelier and our wine list is “ragionata”: this means that for each wine technical features and suggestions are given about how to pair it with dishes.
- What does it mean to own a restaurant, specifically in Florence?
It is not easy to own a restaurant in Florence. You need to rise from the ranks and create yourself a loyal clientele: Florentines are quite fussy and very attached to tradition. To achieve good results you need great professionalism, respect for the customer and an excellent value for money. I prefer to offer a restaurant with less decorations but a higher quality of the food. And also, you have to keep yourself up to date.
- Which are your plans for the future?
Lo Skipper - Club Nautico
Via Alfani, 78/r
50122 Florence - Italy
Tel. (+39) 055 28 40 19
Fax (+39) 055 238 12 32
CLOSED ON SUNDAYS AND SATURDAY MORNINGS