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Locanda del Falco: How a Young Chef Creates "Futuristic Cuisine" in An Ancient Village

Andrea Petrini
copertina locanda del falco rivalta

The rare alchemy of an inn that has always had its feet on the ground and its head in the clouds: in the village of Rivalta, a young chef with significant experience welcomes the international audience with flashes of creativity and respect for pure ingredients.

The story 

To each their own family. Pietro Carlo Pezzati – a trilingual young man with an impressive CV, not even thirty yet – has acquired an exceptional one. One that welcomed him with open arms. Welcome to the Locanda del Falco of Sabrina and Pucci Piazza. And now, a bit his own too, as he reigns over the stoves.

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A rare gem he is, and rare pearls they are: two sisters, close-knit like few, at the helm of the family ship launched in 1975 against seas and mountains, still barely located by most radars. Better that way, niche stuff, word of mouth remains. For the curious sensitive to genuine work on the territory and its traditions. 

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Where Pietro, back home after two decades spent wandering the world from Australia to Paris, contributes since November 2021 his humble stone to the generational turnover of an inn essentially a workshop of dreams, ideas, and activities.

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The menu follows the rhythm of the seasons, echoing the expression of the moment. The array of dishes, with all the products from the Val di Trebbia and beyond, explores the popular heritage of Piacenza, sometimes literally – the anolini in broth, the divine pisarei – but always with a touch of inventiveness, a slightly playful transgression.

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Pietro Carlo Pezzati Carciofo mammola croccante e mandarino5

There is always a first time. When you land by chance, thanks to fortunate fate (praise go to Isa Mazzocchi and her Palta, who urged us to storm the village of Rivalta one summer evening), in a place of which, ignorant as you are, you know little or nothing. And immediately you are struck in the heart by the energy, the timeless atmosphere pulsating with the present, the dishes designed to be eaten first and then contemplated. Full of energy, overflowing with inspirations, inflections, and digressions that always stay true to the main direction: that of taste, balance, freshness.

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So, as with recommended or borrowed books, records, or films, from the start, the yearning was to return there in the company of (or hastily send) people above any suspicion. Chilean-American chef Victoria Blamey. Japanese journalist Melinda Joe. Writer Nicholas Gill, globe-trotting Hong Konger Vanessa Yeung. Or the CEO of the German record label City Slang, Christof Ellinghaus. To truly understand, all together or separately, the rare alchemy of an inn of which Pietro Carlo Pezzati is the driving force. But it would make little sense without the complicity of a team that is not just cohesive.

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Call it "Factory" in the style of Andy Warhol or "Family" as Massimo Bottura uses when talking about Francescana. We would rather say "Community." That of the alternative microsocieties of the past where individual creativity, needs, and desires were made available to each other. The force lies in unity, while creativity thrives collectively. Everything is exposed, in the face of the suppressed.

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The matter clearly goes beyond the shop, more real than nature, a warm welcome awaits on the left side of the entrance door with its array of cured meats, dairy products, cabbages, pumpkins, dried and fresh legumes, wines, oils, preserves, and condiments. Also, adjoning to the counter, many shelves overflowing with pickles and fermentations complement an anthology of the best produced by the local agriculture of the young generation. It would take titles as long as those of Christopher Nolan's films to extensively cite the mass of front-line supporters in reasoned sourcing.

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The word to the lady of the house, Sabrina Piazzi: “The Falco Inn has changed so much since, almost half a century ago, my parents, high-quality Piacenza butchers, caught off guard by the supermarket boom and the lightning desertion of their customers, decided to convert to restaurateurs. Since then, we have always served traditional cuisine in step with the times, not stuck in the rearview mirror.

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When our previous chef, Tomohide Nakayama, after a decade in the kitchen, returned to Japan, I was fortunate to meet Pietro one evening for dinner with his peers. I discovered that he was a native of Boggio, nearby, and also a chef in France, first at Bertrand Grébaut's Septime and then in his inn in the Perche countryside. I definitely courted him, but isn't it time to return to your native region? At first, he hesitated, as he had almost escaped from here as a teenager to seek his fortune far from home. Then, fortunately, he reconsidered. In November '21, when he finally unpacked his bags at the Falco, a new chapter opened for all of us.”

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@Evan Sung
People of Falco Marco B Sabrina La cantina Il sorriso Il gesto La condivisione 2
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The dishes

Far from a Jacobin revolution, the break is rather in the vital continuity of an inn that has always had its feet on the ground but, fortunately, its head in the clouds. The strength of the dream never stashed in the drawer, the cumbersome ego yes. Pietro Carlo Pezzati's imagination tends towards the collective, wanders without borders between the near and the far, the legacies of travels and insights into the next present, the much vegetable and the flat applied to the animal.

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In spring, the Piacenza Asparagus Pie – green and purple – pairs harmoniously with white fermented ones from Bassano along with fresh goat cheese, Lodi’s raspadura, and Zaatar spices of purely Lebanese inspiration. The Tacos here at Falco are worldly, equally Italian and Mexican, with burrata, designed with Ligurian shrimp but also black garlic and kombu seaweed puree for a gently iodized boost. Japan, much like ancient China, is never far away. In the Chawanmushi, of course, flan with bisque, marsala eggs, aromatic herbs, shrimp oil, lemon, and Umeboshi Jap plum.

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In a paradoxical twist, Italy shines brightly with the resounding success of two masterpieces that have claimed all the accolades in 2023. A matter of nuances, of subcutaneous dialogues: between the alliaria and wild garlic with dried capers in the wild hop and strawberry honey risotto, herbaceous and lively like a Gyokuro Kansai infatuated with Matcha tea.

Pietro Carlo Pezzati DDD risotto mela cotogna e rosa di mantova

And even more, if it were really possible, in a backhand of Umami, a hit of optimism, vitality in a velvet glove to wake up even the dead, aptly titled "Umami tu Mami." A lunar dish, of stellar simplicity, with little to add and even less to remove, philologically close to the mythical "Spaghettoni al lievito di birra" by the Camanini brothers. Thus, Pietro Carlo Pezzati's interpretation of Felicetti Monograno: Kamut Spaghetti in their most quintessential fragrance but harmonized with the evergreen overwhelming freshness of chives and trout eggs. With its miraculous fermented wheat sauce, acidity and sweetness in unison transforming bucolic salinity into an enveloping umami with long, infinite humorous refractions. A masterpiece of infinitely diffused iodine is said to be able to represent Italy more than many at the upcoming Esperanto culinary Olympics.

Pietro Carlo Pezzati cipolla caramellata 2
Pietro Carlo Pezzati Carciofo mammola croccante e mandarino6

Because one thing is certain at Falco: here, a learned and dialectal language is spoken, refined because it listens to many subcultures, and always, always understandable by most. Not reserved for a single caste, a single social category. There is no trace of standardized palate, not even a shadow of common Tik-Tok Generation quirks. The legacy of fine dining regenerates instead into a fun dining that is by no means ecumenical.

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The Falco community knows where it's heading: embarking on a culinary journey towards a personal, some might say authorial, cuisine while remaining free from rigid identity constraints. With a vocation for self-determination and the battle for free choice. We are in an outpost, increasingly rare in these times, where the à la carte menu still prevails over the armed assault of the tasting menu.

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"The à la carte is the norm for us. If a customer doesn't feel like racking their brains and asks for a menu, Pietro Carlo, of course, makes one for them. But tailored," clarifies Sabrina Pucci, thus addressing the young chef - who promptly intervenes: "We have a clientele that has always faithfully followed us. And many others, truly of all generations, including numerous young people, who come to us through word of mouth for a great experience. Without exaggerating, we never even think about abolishing the à la carte; of course not. I would like, however, that, little by little, with the trust now established, guests increasingly ask us for Carte Blanche, depending on their desires, hunger. And the time they are willing to put at our disposal."

Pietro Carlo Pezzati

As for the Piacenza-style Omakase, only the future will tell. Pietro Carlo Pezzati has a whole life ahead of him. In just two years and three months at the helm of Falco, he daily traces the perimeter of his expressive habitat without any missteps. Last October, invited for the first time to a culinary congress, on the Dublin podium of Food on the Edge (https://foodontheedge.ie/speaker/pietro-carlo-pezzati/), he surprised the audience quite a bit by taking a counterintuitive approach. While many delighted in hiding behind self-promotional videos, live-explained cookbooks, and enthusiastic speeches, Pietro Carlo Pezzati presented "Landing," a video created in collaboration with the artist Michele Sambin.

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Material images – sky, clouds, water, sand – and phrases, ephemeral and fleeting, traced with a twig, on the shoreline of a beach lapped by waves. Like words, writing also takes flight. The ebb and flow of the waves flood everything, instantly wash away, erase the fleeting traces while off-screen a strident saxophone rises towards the sky. The traces disappear before our eyes. Words, aphorisms, the chef's name last only a few seconds. Washed, lifted by themselves, they return to the open sea, carried away by the water's ebb. With its movement, the water erases any mnemonic trace. Never has a poetic action been more beautiful, at least since the times when Franco IV and Franco I traced singing "I wrote 'I love you' in the sand." Memory slides away, dazzled by the fading light. But the actions and intentions remain.

220930 LocandaFalco 5566


Locanda del Falco

Castello di Rivalta 4- 29010 Gazzola (PC)

Closed: Monday & Tuesday

Phone: +39 0523 1820269 / +39 0523 978101 / mob. +39 327 6654555



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