In 2012, the two friends Enrico Pochiero and Francesco Nardi founded the restaurant Chianalea in Zurich's Kreis 4. Both the cuisine and the interior design are intended to transport the restaurant's guests to Italy - to the beach, to the sea and into the kitchen of the Nonna.
On the wall hangs a shiny turquoise bonnet of a Fiat 500, fishing nets, an old life preserver, black and white pictures everywhere, and brown amphorae on the counter. In the restaurant Chianalea by Enrico Pochiero and his business partner Francesco Nardi, you keep discovering little details when you look at the interior. A pasta strainer and a cheese grater, for example, old sewing machines and Vespa helmets. Details that are reminiscent of Enrico's homeland and are intended to make the cuisine of the Chianalea clear: Italy. Calabria to be precise, the tip of the boot in the Italian south. This is where Enrico grew up, where he trained as a chef. And this is also where the picturesque fishing village of Chianalea exists, which gave its name to the restaurant at Brauerstrasse 87.
'Because my food was so appreciated, we decided to start our own restaurant in 2012.'
"Francesco Nardi, my business partner, often went on holiday to Calabria. We got to know each other and became good friends," says Enrico. In 1999, Enrico moved to Zurich for love and began organising small dinners for friends and acquaintances. "Because it went down so well, Francesco and I decided to start our own restaurant in 2012.
The idea: to bring simple and typical Calabrian dishes to Zurich.
For months, Enrico and Francesco, but also their partners, friends and relatives, lent a hand at the Chianalea. "We did practically everything ourselves: the floor, the walls, the counter, the kitchen," Enrico recalls. The idea was to bring simple and typical Calabrian dishes to Zurich. "My kitchen is nothing fancy. The food should be simple, reminiscent of the dishes at Nonna's or Mamma's and, above all, it should taste good," says Enrico.
So there are only a handful of menus every day. "Today, for example, we serve a marinated swordfish carpaccio or a salad with fresh rocket as a starter," Enrico knows. The first course is pasta with spicy aubergine and a pesto of dried tomatoes or a sauce with mussels and chickpeas. And for the main course, there is then a choice of a sea bass fillet and a veal escalope. "That's all. With such a small menu, I can guarantee that everything is fresh and, above all, seasonal. That's important to me." Besides, this way it really is like it used to be, like in Enrico's childhood, when his mother or grandmother would go to the market in the morning and cook whatever was fresh on the day.
The food comes out of the kitchen at Chianalea in huge pans and pots.
Moreover, the food at Chianalea does not usually come out of the kitchen on plates, but in huge pans and pots. "Just like in the old days, when the mother put everything on the table and everyone took what they wanted," Enrico recalls. This is not only authentic, he says, but also leads to people talking to each other more at the table again. A "pass-me-that" or a "do you still want a little" have become rare at the table. I want to revive that," Enrico explains his philosophy.
Among them are classics like Margherita or Prosciutto e Funghi, but also more unusual creations with broccoli and salsiccia.
It's a philosophy that often meets with astonished first glances in Zurich, but is then very much appreciated. "Here at Chianalea, everyone is equal," says Enrico. "It doesn't matter if you're wearing an expensive Gucci dress or a wrinkled H&M T-shirt: you sit down, you're friendly with each other and you enjoy your food together. Very simple." Besides the small menu, there is always pizza from the oven. "Especially the pizza with Nduja - a spicy Calabrian sausage that almost melts in the oven - is a real hit," says Enrico, pointing to the black chalkboard on which the different pizzas are listed. Among them are classics like Margherita or Prosciutto e Funghi, but also more unusual creations with broccoli, with salsiccia or with parmesan, rocket and potatoes.
Enrico has now lived in Zurich for over 20 years. "It's a city that gives you a lot, but it can also take a lot away from you," he says. Saying goodbye to his family was not easy. "My whole family still lives in Calabria, and I also miss the Italian way of life very much," he says. It was especially hard for Enrico when his father died of cancer shortly before Chianalea opened. "At that time, my business partner Francesco's mother also got cancer and didn't win the fight." That is why, he says, there is a very special place in the restaurant at Chianalea: a small, inconspicuous fountain. "Everyone is allowed to help themselves to water here free of charge. And whoever wants to can leave a small donation at the end of the evening, which we pass on to Cancer Research Switzerland."
'You're supposed to feel like you're at Nonna's.'
For Enrico and Francesco, it is important that Chianalea is a place where good conversations count more than social media posts, where people don't look at smartphones but at full plates. "Where you have a good time, meet good friends, have good conversations and eat good food," says Enrico. "We are a small restaurant, with room for a maximum of 30 guests. That makes the atmosphere here all the more familiar. You should feel like you're at Nonna's."