The Faces Behind The House of Peroni – Francesco Mazzei, Aoife Noonan, Michael Ryan and Federico Riezzo
Take shot of Dublin’s freshest culinary talent, a splash of expertly sourced ingredients and a generous measure of Italian style and flair, shake to combine and serve. This heady cocktail is the order of the day as House of Peroni returns to Dublin for a second residency, overlooking the city from the rooftop of 1 Dame Lane.
Under the direction of Sartoria London’s renowned Italian chef, House of Peroni Master of Taste Francesco Mazzei, Luna’s Executive Pastry Chef Aoife Noonan and Dublin Pizza Company’s Michael Ryan traveled to Italy to immerse themselves in the culture and flavours of the country. Returning to Dublin, the talented duo bring with them a shared love of the Italian ethos of sourcing and utilising only the finest produce – the very principle underpinning The House of Peroni.
Together with Peroni’s Global Ambassador and Master Mixologist Federico Riezzo, the talented trio will create an authentic taste of Italy, or Gusto D’Italia, putting on a flavour display of epic proportions.
The House of Peroni will be open to the public from May 25th to June 4th 2017, so we caught up with Aoife, Michael and Federico for a sneak taste of what guests can expect from one of the most delicious events of the summer.
Sartoria is a full on Italian experience and that is what Peroni is about.
How will the food at House of Peroni ‘evoke Italian pastimes and special moments?’
I have designed and specially picked this menu as this is food which Italian people eat when having drinks. It’s what you share with some friends whilst catching up or with your family in the evening whilst enjoying an aperitivo. What inspired me is actually this, the Italian aperitivo time and how special and unique it is.
What does Gusto D’Italia mean to you?
Being Peroni’s Master of Taste to me means being able to match food with Peroni’s flavour and Gusto D’Italia is a fully immersion to the Italian soul and spirit, which of course involves food and drink.
You travel all over the world with Peroni, what are you most excited about bringing the House of Peroni to Dublin?
I love Dublin and it is obviously a top beer destination. I think it also has a similar lifestyle to Italy and I really like its people.
What has impressed you about Ireland’s interpretation of Italian cuisine – in Luna and Dublin Pizza Company?
I still haven’t had the chance to get to know Luna – I have only read their menu which is very interesting and Dublin Pizza Company really wowed me. Those guys know how to make a good pizza.
Tell us about the signature dishes you are bringing to House of Peroni such as Biscotto di Melanzane?
I have some of the dishes a twist to make them more chichetti style, so they can be eaten with hands. For example aubergine parmigiana can be a bit boring but becoming a Biscotto di Melanzane which is actually served in a wonderful Calabrian bread this makes it an experience and something really easy going and chilled to eat whilst enjoying a cold Peroni.
Conviviality and sharing are the cornerstones of an Italian dinner table. Our pasticinni at The House of Peroni is all about sharing and enjoyment.
Luna is one of Ireland’s premier Italian restaurants, what do you love most about crafting Italian desserts, as opposed to for example French Patisserie?
Coming from a background in French patisserie, it has been an incredible learning curve in the art of Italian desserts over the past year in Luna. I feel Italian desserts give me more room to explore and experiment with traditional Italian ingredients such as citrus, nuts and coffee. Having discovered the Italian culture of pasticinni (small pastry bites) on my visit to Rome, I am excited to present some of these creations at The House of Peroni.
Tell us about the collection of Pasticinni we can expect at House of Peroni, like your famous Luna Rocher?
The idea for the Luna Rocher stemmed from wanting to provide a nostalgic experience. We all have fond memories of the Ferrero Rocher pyramid and this was something I wanted to bring to Luna’s desert trolley. I wanted to make a version of Ferrero Rocher into a complete dessert so I took the elements and made it my own.
The Luna Rocher is a liquid Frangelico ball encased in a milk chocolate and hazelnut rocher, finely coated in a dark chocolate and crushed hazelnut coating.
The Luna Rocher will feature on my menu at The House of Peroni alongside classic Italian pasticinni dishes inspired by my recent trip such as cannoli, summer fruit tart and ricotta, strawberry and balsamic gelato.
What is your favourite Italian ingredient to work with?
I love working with mascarpone and ricotta. They are both traditional Italian ingredients but so versatile – they can be sweet or they can be savoury. I am also loving working with basil – it’s not always associated with sweet dishes but it can really elevate strawberry or lemon-based desserts.
How has working with Francesco developed your appreciation of the Italian style of cooking?
It has been an honor for me to get the opportunity to work with Francesco Mazzei on The House of Peroni. He is so knowledgeable – he always has little nuggets of information to teach me about traditional Italian food and culture. For example, he told me that in Italy, he remembers his dad would bring home the pasticinni on a Sunday for the whole family to enjoy.
Pasticinni is nostalgic for him and he is so passionate about it that it has given me a whole new perspective on the tradition behind it – his passion is infectious. He has taught me to appreciate simple but good quality ingredients and to treat them with respect.
What makes Peroni the perfect match for you?
I think I have a very similar set of values to Peroni Nastro Azzurro, which makes this a perfect match. When it comes to the beer, Peroni are all about the highest quality ingredients, attention to detail and craftsmanship in their brewing – which are values I very much share in my career as a chef.
In terms of the House of Peroni, I love what Peroni have done to showcase Italy and Gusto d’Italia. I don’t think any other brands are bringing experiences like The House of Peroni to Dublin, working with like-minded local chefs like myself to bring a little piece of Italy to Dublin.
On the streets of Naples, Pizza is king. At The House of Peroni, we’re going to celebrate that passion with a pizza menu inspired by Naples and enacted through Irish produce.
Where does your affinity with quality Italian cuisine come from?
The simplicity of Italian cuisine allows quality produce to speak for itself. It is easy to fall in love with Italian food when it is made in such a way. I always believed a great pizza needs a great beer.
What did you learn about authentic Italian cooking from your trip to Italy and what tips did you pick up?
When I arrived in Naples, everywhere I looked I saw local produce of the highest quality. By using the ingredients around you, you get to the heart of Italian food. Tomatoes from San Marzano in the hills of Naples, buffalo mozzarella made fresh that day, and first press olive oil grown from the olive groves on the outskirts of Naples.
Seeing all of this inspired me to search for the best of local Irish produce and build my menu for Dublin Pizza Company on this premise. The pizziolas attention to detail and respect for their produce was great to see.
What are the organic ingredients that make your pizza a cut above the rest?
Where possible, we always use Irish produce, using Italian style production techniques. Our cow’s mozzarella comes from Toonsbridge Dairy and our buffallo mozzarella comes from Macroom Dairy, from buffaloes brought directly from Italy to West Cork!
Our salami and charcuterie is cured exclusively for us by On the Wild Side in Kerry and a rolling selection of charcuterie and cheeses is sourced from Gubeen Farmhouse in Schull. We also grow our own herbs in our polytunnel on our plot in Stoneybatter.
What is the most exciting part of participating in House of Peroni?
The House of Peroni has given me the opportunity to collaborate with my suppliers to create a pizza menu exclusively for the event. It was great to show Francesco Mazzei that in Dublin we can create a world class pizza that wouldn’t be out of place on the streets of Naples. I am excited to showcase the menu at The House of Peroni.
What makes Peroni a perfect match for Dublin Pizza Company?
I have always seen Peroni as a great Italian brand. Before I opened up Dublin Pizza Company, when we were first testing the oven, it was early summer of 2016 and every Friday after the day of playing around with menus and working with the oven, we’d invite friends around to the shop to enjoy the pizza and have a few Peroni’s.
This was one of the highlights for me of opening my first Pizzeria – Dublin Pizza Company prides itself on using premium, locally sourced ingredients, as is the case with Peroni. So I guess it is a perfect match – I always believed that great pizza needs great beer and a cold bottle of Peroni Nastro Azzurro in the sunshine after a hard day’s pizza making is hard to beat!
The classic Italian Negroni is seeing a surge in popularity here in Ireland, and what can we expect from House of Peroni infusion The Pegroni?
The Negroni, just like Peroni Nastro Azzurro, is a classic Italian drink that is perfect for Aperitivo. My take on it is very simple, yet also balanced and fun. The Pegroni is a classic Negroni, with the addition of Peroni and orange and saffron ice cubes to give a very interesting dynamic to the drink, as the flavour will constantly change as the cubes melt.
As a mixologist, what is it about Peroni that draws you to creating beer-infused cocktails?
I really feel that Peroni Nastro Azzurro is one of the best beers to create beer cocktails with, as it is very balanced and refreshing, with just a light feel of hop and the perfect bitterness – an essential component in most cocktails. Peroni’s versatility is also a great advantage when designing beer cocktails.
What Irish ingredients are you looking forward to using to create Gusto D’Italia?
I really love Irish elderflower cordial and Irish apple juice is incredible! I will use them together with Irish strawberries and raspberries, and other fruit, to create a fruit stock that will flavour a shareable infusion called Peroni Terrazza.
Gusto d’Italia aims to evoke Italian pastimes and memories – What memories do the infusions evoke for you?
Peroni Parma is a memory of the simplest dessert that my mum used to make during the hot Italian summers – a combination of delicious melon, mint leaves and a little squeeze of melon. The Terrazza is inspired from when my dad used to add fresh fruit and sparkling lemonade to his Peroni back home.
How much of your role at Dublin’s House of Peroni will involve entertaining and engaging with guests with your skills?
Being a global ambassador for Peroni requires more than just creating great drinks. The real skill of a bartender/ mixologist is as much about engaging with guest, as what goes in the glass. We Italians, just like the Irish, love a good chat, a laugh, telling a story and being convivial around the table or the bar. It’s in our nature; it’s in our style.
For more information on The House of Peroni click here.
The House of Peroni’s restaurant is taking a limited number of early dinner bookings for sittings at 6pm or 6.30pm each evening and brunch bookings at 12.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.
To book a table, get in early and contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins to the restaurant will also be accommodated as much as possible, on a first come first served basis.
There is also a series of ticketed masterclasses in the Art of Pizza, Pasta, Aperitivo and Dolci. Tickets are selling fast and can be snapped up here.