Versilia boasts a new author’s table: the Park of Villa Gray and Nicola Gronchi, a star chef.
by Stefania Buscaglia
Pier Paolo Pasolini loved to recount the natural sceneries of Versilia as “crazy”, both for the morphological connotation and for the nuances that characterize the geography of the mountainous tract close to its coast. A physical “madness” that, one wonders, has ever poured on the history of this area of north-western Tuscany with a strong tourist vocation, that carries within it the legendary images of a now mythical, light-hearted Italy and to us dear for its vaguely nostalgic and rarefied atmospheres.
A tourist vocation that finds in the food and in the restaurant one of the central elements through which to conquer and make the tourist fall in love: it is not by chance that over the years the addresses of refined and authored cuisine of the area have been more, six Michelin Star restaurants in Versilia.
A very respectable number that, nevertheless, does not seem to slow down or satisfy the protagonists of the local Haute Cuisine, in continuous gastronomic and planning ferment.
The most tangible and current example can be traced back to Nicola Gronchi, a young chef from Carrara who, following numerous experiences (including the one next to Iside De Cesare at Parolina, the next to the Pilone in Alba and, above all, the most recently at the starred Bistrot in Forte dei Marmi) he chooses to marry a new project born thanks to the initiative of the Larini family, already manager of the 4-star Villa Gray Boutique Hotel in Forte dei Marmi (famous for its splendid beach of properties) chooses to complete the offer linked to excellent hospitality, by inserting a gourmet restaurant inside the structure capable of enriching the offer of the place, distinguishing itself through a luxury kitchen, but at the same time sincere and direct, capable of making the most of excellences of the territory.
A project that develops around the personality and professionalism of Gronchi, a chef capable of achieving maximum results in dishes in which the boldness and the desire to deal with subjects that are not always easy or conventional are placed at the center of the gastronomic design.
A design in which lightness and taste live in a pleasant harmony that is expressed in dishes that would deserve the journey such as Risotto alla rapa con rafano, ricci di mare e sgombro marinat, a first that does not accept compromises and breaks delay immediately, showing an approach to the identity and sensuously aggressive cuisine: a carnaroli with a perfect cream and the exemplary balance of every single ingredient. A wrapping, creamy and exciting dish that would be enough to build the identikit of a chef that we want to photograph like this.
The same daring for the Triglia allo scoglio that, having abandoned the classic comfort-zone typical of its preparations, can be accompanied by maruzzelle (or sea snails), curry sauce, stortini beans and sorrel leaves. The result? A “pleasure bomb” in which surprise and contentment are concentrated in a single emotion capable of satisfying the five senses.
A cuisine that favors proximity and in which the Tyrrhenian Sea becomes the fundamental protagonist, just like the Tuscan hinterland from which both the products and some of the important inspirations come. A restaurant set in a highly suggestive environment: a garden (or a park, to be precise!) with a colonial atmosphere in which the rich vegetation embraces the few tables positioned in the splendid outdoor area enriched by the warmth of wood and fabrics. The same welcoming and refined nature of the interiors and exteriors of the Hotel Villa Gray that, enriching its proposal with the “stellar” cuisine of Chef Nicola Gronchi, gives new luster to Forte dei Marmi and the entire Versilian coast.
Photo credits © Lucio Elio