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Terra, The Green Star Earned By Two Italians In Copenhagen: When Sustainability Becomes Reality.

Bianca Tecchiati
copertina Terra Copanaghen

Two Roman fine dining masters, both in the kitchen and in life, made their sustainable dream come true in Copenhagen. Tèrra soars high among lively storytelling in the dining room and a kitchen genuinely focused on waste management.

Photo by Lorenzo Noccioli

Portraits by Alberto Blasetti

The restaurant

Immersiveness defines the new look of Tèrra in Copenhagen, freshly restyled. For the interiors, the owners, chef Valerio Serino and Lucia De Luca, Restaurant Manager, partners in life and work, have thought of the most stylish way to make the customer feel enveloped.

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Like in a theater, where the stage is the only one with diffused light, here the open kitchen takes up the prominent space, central and bright. Slightly underground and even more enhanced by the surrounding spaces, with walls and furnishings in shades of dark gray, minimalistic and extremely refined, the lighting is just softly subdued.

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Where Lucia's pearl necklace shines and her ever-present smile while she gracefully moves among the tables to spread her expertise on ingredients, wines, and food culture, with a narrative style that should be the foundation of waiter manuals, which unfortunately do not exist.

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The music selection is carefully curated and smoothly transitions between avant-garde and classics; the playlist is curated by the hosts, just like the interior decor. This is because Lucia, a Roman born in 1987, has a background in design, culminating in a master's degree in Copenhagen in 2011, which, combined with her passion for food and wine, she later applied to the restaurant industry. A year after her arrival in the Danish capital, her partner Valerio, also from Rome and a year older, joined her, leaving his job at an airline to work in the kitchen of Kanalen and later at Amass.

valerio serino

The year 2014 sees the realization of their initial gastronomic vision with the launch of Il__mattarello, bar and laboratory for fresh, organic, handcrafted pasta, included among the sixty stalls in the bustling Torvehallerne covered market. According to many local chefs and critics turned loyal customers, it's the place to find a next-level carbonara that can rival those in Rome. In 2017, on Ryesgade, once known for its antique shops, the doors of the Tèrra restaurant opened.

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A project where the complete utilization of ingredients and recovery serve as the engine of Chef Serino's creativity. Over 95% of raw materials are used, and ethical principles extend to relationships with employees and producers. Therefore, after four years, though only two in actual operation due to the pandemic, the green Michelin star arrives. For the same reasons, they are also part of the Tempi di Recupero association, which promotes a conscious worldview through a network of chefs, winemakers, and gelato makers who are fully aware of the need to avoid waste.

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This, in essence, is the foundation of the culinary culture of bygone homemakers, which can morph into effective inspiration training and a powerful creativity booster. For Serino, it's undoubtedly a massive ingredient research effort, starting from purchases from local biodynamic agriculture to fishing and preservation methods, all culminating in a joyful celebration of taste on the plate. Not to mention the aspect of raising awareness among people on the issue.

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The dishes

The menu narrates a journey starting along the Danish coast, continuing through the woods to inland areas to meet local producers. With a captivating beverage pairing. "To warm the soul," says Lucia as she serves a lobster broth with tomato powder, to start with a Japanese culture tradition. 

terra copenaghen valerio serino brodo astice

In the tartlet, the lobster claw is covered with a "green curry" obtained from stems and various unused parts of vegetables and aromatic herbs.

terra copenaghen valerio serino green curry

Inspired by the concept of "fishing power," the herring is first marinated in vinegar and then pickled, placed on a meringue and rounded off with acidic peaks by a shallot puree. 

terra copenaghen valerio serino aringa

Unlike in Italy, eel in Denmark does not suffer from the drama of extinction, which is why Tèrra has chosen it for a tantalizing skewer, paired with red turnip, both glazed with a homemade teriyaki sauce.

terra copenaghen valerio serino anguilla

While the glass welcomes Domaine Karanika Extra Cuvée de Réserve 2016, with hints of brioche, natural yeast, but also buttery cheese, on the palate, freshly baked bread arrives, and in the long finish, the spicy lemon.

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Delicious is the bite-sized daikon radish with horseradish oil, topped with mustard seeds. The first unconventional piece of the pairing puzzle is Elmsfeuer Rabarber Brut, a Danish rhubarb sparkling wine, whose pulp ferments in steel, with notes ranging from rhubarb to green apple. A company that applies classic winemaking methods to berries and fruits from various farms.

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Served in a huge and visually striking mussel shell is the smoked mussel cream, in which a lobster tail is immersed in shabu shabu, shiitake mushrooms, and oystercatcher, rose petals gathered and preserved, served both as petals and oil. Paired with homemade sage and lemon juice.

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The only base ingredient, the potato, is first boiled, then oxidized and served with potato foam with hay milk and horseradish, whose leaves are used to flavor an oil. For a bitter taste with acidic nuances, oscillating between licorice and gentian.

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Starting from the tail and moving towards the head, one perceives the flavor crescendo of deep-sea shrimp marinated in salt, served with dill koshu, Mexican oregano leaf grown in the tiny garden inside the restaurant.

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From a farm just outside Copenhagen come the cherry tomatoes, cooked confit with green strawberry umeboshi, elderberry capers, habanada peppers, from the habanero family, lobster claws, basil, dill, with the connection of a graceful acidity provided by the mirabelle plum gazpacho.

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Also complementing the dish in terms of color is the Riva Arsiglia Menti, 2017, a Garganega orange wine with very citrusy sweet notes and soft tannins.

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The celeriac taco, Chef’s signature dish, is surprising, alternating layers of fried celery root with marinated raw layers, completed with a sage emulsion. It starts with an acidity that ends with sweet notes.

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These meet with the woody, almost smoky notes of the Clos Larrouyat Météore 2021, a lively Gros Manseng with a savory hint in the finish.

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As expected, pasta is inevitable and comes in the form of passatelli, but made from chestnut flour and kombu seaweed, immersed in a broth made from what remains of the eel, to which bergamot oil and spicy bergamot koshu are added. Best enjoyed with a good amount of broth to balance sweetness and bitterness.

terra copenaghen valerio serino passatelli 1

A kukicha green tea with thyme and bergamot recalls the citrus of the previous dish and prepares for the next flavors. The Norwegian halibut is salted and left to rest overnight in the refrigerator, then cooked very slowly on the skin side to become crispy and impart umami and savoriness. Internally, it will have a part with medium cooking and one completely raw, to achieve three different textures. With the less noble parts of the fish, reduced and emulsified with homemade elderberry oil, the accompanying sauce is prepared. Alongside lacto-fermented mirabelle plums; a pickled rose petal, a plum preserved in oil worked as if it were a sun-dried tomato, and a slightly acidified radish.

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Shiitake mushrooms are paired with Danish forest lion's mane, worked by the chef as if it were charcuterie, but with firmer textures. They are wrapped in chestnut milk, with bay leaf oil and coriander capers. The elegance of Christian Tschida's Pinot Noir Birdscape 2020, could be defined, as desired, as a light red or a richly scented rosé with hints of undergrowth, gentle tannins, with final acidity and savoriness that will emphasize the herbal notes of the next dish.

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A matured old dairy cow put back to pasture to feed exclusively on grass reminiscent of wagyu marbling. It's aged for nine days, glazed with black garlic sauce and hazelnut butter, and lightly smoked. Accompanying it on the plate is a tart and tannic aronia berry, caramelized Japanese quince like a Cremona mustard; wild apples with mustard seeds; Japanese shishito chili grown in Denmark lightly charred; essence of the meat fat.

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For the lemon sorbet, lemon peel is also used and verbena oil is added, the almond crumble it sits on is made from almond milk from the summer menu.

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To sweeten the mirabelle plum juice collected by Valerio and Lucia, a melissa syrup is used. In the dessert, the plum is used in its entirety, with a sort of fruit kernel-flavored crème caramel at the base, to which a sauce obtained by reducing the fruit without sugar is added; puffed rice, dried flowers from the garden.

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The small pastry selection brilliantly embodies the concept of zero waste, with a pumpkin seed crunch; a cold brownie made from coffee grounds and chocolate; aged and oxidized white chocolate to the consistency of toffee; a bittersweet lemon pulp treat, processed after being squeezed and peeled. Like homemade vermouths made by fortifying wine that isn't served and remains in the bottles, adding syrups, such as fig leaf and muscat-based ones, for a floral and aromatic result; one based on white wines and rosemary, more balsamic and digestive. For a slightly stronger alcoholic finish, there's nothing left but to taste the Gin Tèrra with an almost peaty mood.

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Ryesgade 65, 2100 København Ø, Denmark

Phone: +45 28 59 64 17


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