Monaco’s only Michelin-starred Italian chef Antonio Salvatore talks to Monaco Life about taking the Principality’s iconic restaurant Rampoldi to New York.
Antonio originates from Basilicata in Southern Italy. He enjoyed hanging out in his parents’ kitchen, enrolling in hotelier school in Potenza as a teenager and graduating in catering services. He worked in various local restaurants, and while still an adolescent he decided to travel the world to gain experience cooking alongside known chefs. He perfected the art of cooking, and learned how to run restaurants, becoming a seasoned chef, and at the same time learning several languages.
In 2016, Antonio became the head chef at the legendary Rampoldi in Monte-Carlo that had been in business since 1946. During summer 2020, he opened La Table d’Antonio Salvatore, an intimate gastronomic dining room just a flight of stairs below the main restaurant, that gained him a Michelin Star.
Since then, he has been working with the MC Hospitality Group (MCHG ) to expand their presence on both sides of the ocean, opening Casa Limone and refurbishing the Atlantic Grill in New York City.
Antonio hits the ground running, and the recent addition to his collection of restaurants is Rampoldi New York, set within Lincoln Square, a fine dining establishment blending French cuisine with the aromas of his beloved Italy.
Monaco Life was lucky to have secured an interview with Antonio Salvatore, a busy chef who is constantly on the go, commuting back and forth between Monaco and the USA.
It was almost inevitable that Antonio Salvatore would end up in a kitchen. His passion and inspiration for cooking is written in his DNA. “I come from a very large Italian family where the kitchen was the centre of our lives,” he says. “I grew up admiring my mother and my grandmother, and they continue to inspire me today.”
Living in Southern Italy he learned the importance of tradition and strong family values, and developed a taste for the local products and their specific aromas. “I love my country, its history, its culture, its poetic language. Italian cooking is an art and brings together all that is dear to me,” the chef tells Monaco Life.
Apart from excellence in cooking, to be a chef requires other qualities, including leadership, sensitivity, being well-travelled, but above all knowing how to manage a team while remaining humble, and to be perseverant and never, ever, give up.
He explains how he manages to run five restaurants in two different continents: “First, it is important to mention I could not do it without the help of the 200 people in my team. I have their trust and support, and in turn I keep motivating them to grow, become accountable, proactive, and passionate about their work and aware of the group mission. I travel continuously, so I am very organised leaving nothing to chance. I am strong willed, have a great fighting spirit, and a sense of sacrifice.”
Antonio was crowned with a Michelin star in 2021 for his gourmet restaurant La Table d’Antonio Salvatore, a luxurious environment serving refined Mediterranean cuisine, combining Italian and French dishes with a Monegasque style. This recognition revealed his creativity and the high level of his cuisine. Antonio says he is incredibly proud, because “being the only Italian starred chef in Monaco is to make history!”
In June 2021, Antonio and MCHG also opened Casa Limone in Midtown Manhattan, at the edge of the mythical Rockefeller Center. It is an authentic Southern Italian restaurant, with typical dishes such as pasta, pizza and more. He affirmed: “You feel transported to Sicily, maybe Sorrento.”
Late summer 2022, they brought back to life the Atlantic Grill on 65th street, in Lincoln Square, NY, your typical all-American restaurant with an international twist, serving fresh grilled fish, sushi and meat dishes.
But his opera prima up to this date was certainly bringing Rampoldi to the Big Apple, inaugurated on 28th September 2023. It is superbly located in the Upper West Side, 49W 64th street, in Manhattan, steps from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Antonio sounds fulfilled when telling Monaco Life: “It was our dream come true to make Rampoldi, that is the beating heart of the group, a Monaco ambassador, an international brand, a true institution, located in quintessential Manhattan. We serve the same Franco-Italian gourmet-style Monaco experience in the same atmosphere.”
So what are Antonio’s career goals now? “The plan for the next few years is above all to expand the MC Hospitality Group around the world and earn my second Michelin Star.”
Photos courtesy MC Catering Group