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From Inkiostro, Salvatore Morello's indelible signature: the new avant-garde on stage in Parma

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina inkiostro

Salvatore Morello brings the mastery of another Nordic school to the Italian gastronomic scene, characterized by à la minute executions, extreme precision, mastery of acidity, and meticulous attention to detail, the true main character of the dish.

The chef and the restaurant

Having left his Calabria for Germany at just eighteen years old and happily German for 16 years (if it hadn't been for Covid), Salvatore Morello has emerged on the Italian gastronomic scene like an alien, somewhat akin to what Lorenzo Cogo had done years earlier, having been trained at the antipodes of our culinary coordinates, in Australia. Certainly more reserved, less aggressive, yet equally unsettling in his precious otherness, alien to the Marchesian monotheism as well as that of Escoffier, Adrià, and Redzepi.

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He has been officiating in Parma thanks to an enlightened ownership since September 2021, which instead of continuing on the already beaten path, exposing itself to certain decline after a genius like Terry Giacomello, has chosen to change radically. Because as the greats repeat, there are only two kinds of cuisine: good and bad. And Inkiostro has never been the latter.

Francesca Poli 2

Moreover, in these two abundant years, the positive response from the difficult Parma market has allowed for multiple advancements: a different serenity; the creation of a now stable brigade (around sous-chefs Andrea di Salvo and Antonio Brancati, with Bianca Marchesini in pastry), albeit very young (the average age is 24 years); continuous investments and improvements in the structure, partly due to the need to requalify the spaces due to the different styles. Soon the kitchen doors will change for better soundproofing, while behind them, the herb garden tended by a Dutch farmer grows, given the hydroponic towers.

salvatore morello chf 2
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There are eight chefs in the kicthen, numbers that finally allow for everything to be prepared in-house (except for stocks and more complex sauces). Vegetable cooking is done à la minute, and you can taste the difference. The style, strongly influenced by his years at Vendôme with Joachim Wissler, grafts Asian influences onto French bases: the dishes seem reassuring at first glance, such as a stuffed pasta, but the devil is in the details.

salvatore morello Luca Managlia 2024 02 09 12 10 55
@Luca Managlia

They generally consist of two or three ingredients, subjected to numerous elaborations to achieve a balance that dances on the palate. Without imposing too many limits, but resorting when necessary to the Spanish arsenal with some airs. The important thing is the play on the gustatory, thermal, and aromatic nuances, which are always of impeccable finesse. "I like it when a dish presents multiple cooking techniques and different components collaborate: that way the team becomes more cohesive and also more creative."

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Morello is a calm cook who knows where he wants to go. Regardless of the trends of the moment, he maintains a dialectical relationship with his origins and is, in fact, one of the few southern chefs who have escaped nostalgic calls. "Because of the path I've taken, I would feel out of place if I cooked differently. I love southern dishes, I like to eat them, and I use many Mediterranean ingredients, but the style here is different." He often starts with vegetables, the cell of the recipe, followed by a protein (and there is indeed a green menu that must be ordered the day before). Much of it comes from a farmer about thirty kilometers away, who cultivates what is requested. Hokkaido squash comes from Mantua, and flowers and mini exotic fruits from Savignano sul Rubicone. However, it is increasingly difficult to source Japanese ingredients due to the aftermath of Covid, so many preparations are made in-house.

salvatore morello Luca Managlia
@Luca Managlia

The Dishes

The menu changes every 8 weeks, when the tastings with the first harvests begin. So much so that the top vegetables inevitably slip off the menu. There are two tasting menus: Inkiostro and Equilibrio, with 8 and 6 courses respectively at €170 and €160, plus a menu of 16 dishes; the wine pairings, which are done by the imaginative Daniele Molinaro cost €90.

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Even more frequently, the appetizers change, to tantalize loyal customers: currently, raspberry meringue with fennel, tamarind, and beetroot, cannoli with tuna tartare and guacamole, dill mousse cone with blowtorched mustard caviar, tapioca and corn chips with Iberian pork shoulder carpaccio, shellfish sushi with avocado and daikon, celery and vinegar tacos. They impress with their visual precision and the all-Nordic attention to detail, worthy of Bocuse d'Or, but in the mouth, freshness explodes in an instant taste. The secret also lies in the homemade vinegars, made from yuzu, beetroot, black garlic, or chardonnay, matured for 14 months. The pairing is a cocktail.

inkiostro amuse bouche

The breads then arrive: grissini and small loaves with smoked butter; followed by crescenta and waffles. "I always like to start with marinated fish, for the sensation of raw sea, something that remains linked to my origins. But in this case, the idea is a more herbaceous ceviche." Then the Japanese yellowtail marinated in teriyaki with anchovy colatura, Gillardeau oysters, and Brussels sprouts served raw, for a taste tending towards herbal and bitter, yet with its own sweetness. The burnt part goes into powder on the fillet, then it is used in osmosis, as a peanut salad, in nitrogen granita, as "sud", extracted with oyster water, bonito flakes, salt, and sugar. All paired with a Riesling.

salvatore morello ricciola

The cod confit in miso crust, barbecued and finished with caramelized seaweed, is served with cauliflower and romanesco, river shrimp, chive oil, and an umami air obtained from dried scallops, soy, and seaweed. This dish is paired with a Meroi Friulano.

salvatore morello merluzzo confit in crosta di miso 6

The pasta playfully mimics Italianity: ravioli stuffed with local robiola served with raw and cooked kale, Kyoto onion red shrimp with their head emulsion, and a pesto of dried and fermented tomato with barley and borlotti beans, almost like red miso. A classic first dish to the eye, with different notes in the mouth.

salvatore morello ravioli di robiola

Then comes a surprising vegetarian dish, almost a metonymy for meat, which it evokes. "I have closed several menus with vegetables cooked in a powerful way. Artichokes in season cannot be missing in fine dining: grilled, they remind me of the ribs of a young animal. So two cooking methods, grilled and confit, glazed with classic Barigoule sauce with artichoke leaves, artichoke puree, garden cresses also powdered, and artichoke chips from various parts, candied and salted tomatoes; separately, the scraps are soaked to remove bitterness, then burned and left in osmosis in a vegetable artichoke-based broth." Pure lamb.

salvatore morello carciofo

The home dry-aged French duck, usually served whole for the entire table after long cooking, is accompanied by gyoza filled with thighs, turned and smoothed salsify almost like a winter asparagus, flavored with sake and glazed in duck sauce, plus fermented turnips for acidity and sake gel as nectar. In the glass, a Cabernet Franc from Patagonia.

salvatore morello anatra francese frollata

The pre-dessert is excellent, simulating a snowy hill: fresh pineapple tartare, red shiso ice cream, lemon juice, coriander oil, and Japanese yogurt foam.

salvatore morello pre dessert

The meal ends with the freshness of grapefruit: "It was Antonio Biafora who made me taste his fermented elderflower. I had them back here, I treated them differently, and I made a cremeux with the citrus slice, galangal, and red orange ice cream".

salvatore morello dessert pompelmo
salvatore morello piccola pasticceria



Via S. Leonardo, 124, 43123 Parma PR

Phone: 0521 776047


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