Alberto Bettini is the patron of Amerigo 1934, the only Michelin starred Italian restaurant to be credited for over 20 years within the best Osterias by Slow Food. Amerigo is located in Savigno, a quaint and peaceful town, just outside Bologna, filled with bakeries, groceries and butcher shops selling Emilian classics like tortellini, tagliatelle, Parmigiano and culatello. In its warm rooms on two floors—one frescoed by the Hollywood artist Gino Pellegrini—Alberto brings together flavors, elegance and rusticity featuring traditional Bolognese dishes and unique products: courtyard animals, wild and foraged vegetables, venison and game as well as super locals Funghi and truffles, available—black to white—almost all year-round.
Flagship tagliatelle al ragù tradizionale, tortellini prosciutto di mora, parmigiano bianca modenese and Orsi’s Martignone.
Alberto Bettini, patron of Amerigo 1934, summer outdoor setting.
Over the last decades, Amerigo 1934 has become a place of pilgrimage and inspiration for food writer Ruth Reichl, critic Vedat Milor, photographer Melanie Dunea, and iconic chefs like Nancy Silverton and Michael Tusk.
This is an extract from a short interview I had with Alberto Bettini in the last days.
Livio: Describe your activity as food artisan?
Alberto: I am not sure doing hospitality in the countryside like we do at Amerigo might be properly termed an artisan activity. Our business range from the research on the history of regional dishes to experimenting and creating new ones starting with local raw materials. We also scout food producers, guide them towards a profitable business, buy their produce, and help them sell to private individuals. Finally, we try to develop tourism in remote and uncrowded areas like our Valsamoggia valley in the hills outside Bologna.
L: What’s your client base like?
A: It would be more correct saying how our client base was. In all seriousness, half of our customers are locals, from Bologna and Modena, over one third are foreign travelers, and the remainder is from the rest of Italy.
L: When did you see things changing after the pandemic of Covid-19?
A: As of right now nothing has changed. We closed on the 8th of March with a full house, both lunch, and dinner. And then we have taken—or better we have been gifted with—the longest vacation in our life. Things will effectively change once we’ll reopen.
L: What has changed in your day-to-day activity?
A: In the first month I thought of doing things that I had never had time to do well before: reading, thinking, walking. Then in April, I spent a lot of time on the marketing aspects of our business, studying sustainable scenarios for my activities and the life of the staff working with us. Since the pandemic slowed down, we began with home deliveries to supplement employee income and produce some cash flow for the company’s account. From now onwards we will focus on the reopening, keeping the delivery line open for a little more time.
Working with Adriatic shellfish on a themed dinner during lockdown.
Delivery of prepped meals during Covid times.
L: How long can you stay in business in this situation?
A: I firmly believe that every business must adapt to historical, social, and commercial needs, so it is simply a matter of taking the right measures. Should the government support us, then good; if not we will necessarily reduce the staff to breakeven and be sustainable again. At the same time, we shall have developed new ideas to produce new lines of income within our expertise and competitive advantage.
L: What do you foresee in the future?
A: I don’t know. Certainly, I don’t expect like many like to say, a better or more conscious world. Whit unemployment and weak economy people and social behaviors don’t get any better but rather get worse.
L: What’s your wish for the years to come?
A: My one and only wish is to go back to live in freedom and in a fearless world.
L: What have you learned from this experience?
A: There is nothing certain or sure. I understand that the income statement of our companies is worth nothing if two months of a virus—not as aggressive and dangerous as COVID—are enough to bring down the world, the lifestyle, and the economy itself. On the contrary, the intangibles—historical, emotional, and social value—of a company are invaluable.
Tortellini in brodo… the ultimate foldable experience ;-)
Tubers, truffles, mushrooms… autumn in a plate!!!
L: Are you expecting help from the state?
A: Yes for sure, little help from a poor state and country with an uncontemporary social mindset. We will have to figure it out with ideas, tenacity and spirit of adaptation.
L: Finally please nominate or suggest a person that you would like to see us interview.
A: Federico Orsi, Orsi Vigneto San Vito
Belinda Cuniberti, La Zaira