Roberto Costa’s impressive Italian steakhouse group Macellaio RC has just opened its sixth London restaurant in the heart of the West End. Costa has become known for injecting a sense of theatre into his restaurants, and his latest Shaftesbury Avenue offering is no different, featuring a giant charcoal barbecue grill as its centrepiece.
Macellaio (which means butcher) started life in Italy back in 2002 when Costa launched his first steak-focused restaurant in his native Liguria. Costa introduced the exciting brand to London in 2012 and has restaurants in Fitzrovia, South Kensington, Exmouth Market, Battersea and Southwark, as well as Shaftesbury Avenue.
We sat down with the passionate Italian restaurateur to find out more about the man behind the business.
What or who inspired you to become a restaurateur?
My mother and my grandmother with no doubt. In my childhood I was amazed every Sunday by my mum and my grandmother how they used to make food for us as if it was a feast every weekend. They were cooking sauces for 8/9 hours to have the perfect balance and, while waiting for the perfect sauce to be ready, I was staring at them while they were refilling the ravioli or getting the tagliatelle ready for the whole family. So many little details into one simple dish. Since then, I started to think about food, and this is probably why I am so obsessed about quality food and traditions.
What’s your signature dish at Macellaio RC?
I can easily say, pesto sauce. This is the most traditional and historical dish from Genova, the city where I was born. So simple to make but so specific in its ingredients. To have the perfect balance we use pine nuts from Pisa, garlic from Liguria, basil from Pra (in Genova), Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from Emilia and, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menus at Macellaio RC?
It depends on the restaurant, the ambience, the location, the city and the people. Everything must be connected and in balance, and the final idea comes from a combination of these.
Italian cuisine is a cuisine without ego and it’s all about products, not about recipes. This is why I keep trying to bring from Italy to London the most extraordinary ingredients to make my menus, in the simplest possible way, because simplicity makes the difference.
Do your personal preferences influence the menus at Macellaio RC at all?
Not at all. Sometimes I do not even put the things that I like most.
Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to showcasing on your menus?
Not really, because every season has fantastic ingredients to use. The interesting thing about food is to make different dishes according to the season.
What is your favourite ingredient?
What would you do if you weren’t a restaurateur?
I never really had a plan B. So, I have always stick to the plan. Being a restauranteur has always being my passion.
What is your favourite dish to cook at home?
An old Ligurian recipe. The rabbit in the Ligurian way. Rabbit with Taggiasca olives, extra virgin olive oil, peanuts, sage and Pigato wine.
When are you happiest?
Simple. When I see happy customers in my restaurants.
When you’re not in the restaurant where can you be found?
I’ve got three hobbies: Art, watches and wines. So, most of the time I am in my wine cellar at home if I am not in the restaurant.
What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?
As takeaway, a perfect pizza. As comfort food, pasta with pesto sauce.
Where is your favourite place to dine?
In Italy, in a traditional trattoria in the Ligurian countryside where they have my same philosophy; tradition, excellence in ingredients, fantastic wine, great location and heavenly service.