Behind a chain of restaurants dedicated to the tradition of pasta there is the mind of a young visionary economist, Alberto Cartasegn a. Thanks to his studies in Economics and great strength of mind, only two years with his partner Filippo Mottolese, he launched Miscusi: the first Italian restaurant brand totally dedicated to pasta with already several restaurants throughout northern Italy. The traditional dish, symbol of Italian excellence, becomes the center of a new philosophy of catering, which puts the customer’s well-being and happiness first. The traditional hospitality of the Bel Paese, here is enriched with new entertaining interpretations. The project as a whole is conceived as a real research center and ideas on Made in Italy products, thanks also to the imminent opening of the “Farm”, an unprecedented space for experimentation and training.
Where does Miscusi come from?
Speaking of pasta 3 years ago was also counterintuitive for investors, but I managed to find the first fund that believed in the project thanks to my previous job. The subject of pasta was not at all obvious, especially in Italy where there is a wide choice of this product. It was competitive to decide to leave from here where at every corner there is a place that normally offers a product of this type, of medium-good quality at a good price. The idea started from a German franchise of Italian restaurants, which offers a rather poor product without Italian raw materials, but being able to exploit our heritage and culinary tradition. So we opened the first “Miscusi” which was good for lunch but it was hard for dinner. After a few months we opened the second in the Central Station area and in the last year we opened three more in Milan, four in Bergamo and one in Turin.
You’re not alone in this adventure?
I had this idea of Miscusi for some time and I met Filippo Mottolese who was following a similar path, so we decided to work together. Then there are our financing partners who supported the project.
It may be commonplace, but we Italians are good at intuitions and less in business, do you think that is true?
In Italy it seems that family-run companies are the only approach to media entrepreneurship, a formula that hardly allows the entry of external partners. The inability to open up mentally makes it almost impossible to foresee an organizational complexity that goes beyond the classic 100% or 50% +1, while there are many other possible formulas. There is no culture of doing business, in fact investors in Italy are few and not very institutional. There is not that idea of thinking big, there is a mental and cultural closure. The truth is that Italy compared to London, Tel Aviv, London, is a country where people live well even without the “billion-dollar-company”. 93% of the restaurants here are family-run and there are very few chains.
I think it’s a problem of ambition. I took inspiration from Starbucks, thinking how an all-Italian rite like coffee thanks to an international company has become a concept exported all over the world, which now, in the end, also arrives in Italy.
What is your training?
I obtained my bachelor’s degree in economics in Bicocca, and then – thanks to a loan I managed to finish my studies at Bocconi University, so I finished in the United States. I had my first work experience in Berlin, where I worked in a large company, before returning to Milan.
Why the idea of returning to Milan for a project on food dedicated to pasta?
I wanted to create a concept that could speak to everyone: pasta is happiness, sharing, spontaneity.
The idea from which we started was to give the right value to this Italian product so popular all over the world.
Why precisely this name “Miscusi”?
When I was studying in the State, my American friends made fun of me with this title and one day I understood why: in an episode of the ‘Griffins’ the protagonist goes shopping in an Italian grocery store and turns to the shopkeeper in this world, pretending to speak our language like that. It seemed to me a perfect expression to make that concept of the Italian stereotype that makes catering abroad and that I wanted somehow to change. Then, it was easy to remember.
How did your winning formula come about, was there a chef or a consultant?
Without any chef or consultant, we have experimented ourselves for months and months making tastings at home with hundreds of friends and relatives: we have collected lots of notes and ideas. The basic idea is very simple condiments and ingredients, but of excellent quality. We planted our tomatoes in Sicily to make our own sauce, as well as our pesto which is always seasonal and if we are out of season it is cut down to maintain its aromas and quality. We worked on classic pasta recipes, with additions of ingredients that are part of our tradition, such as buffalo, goat ricotta.
What is your best seller?
Definitely the three-colored pacchero with tomato sauce, burrata and Bronte pistachio cream. The idea behind our menu is always the same: classic Italian dishes revisited with special additions that make them special and fun, without distorting their origin.
Your next project is a special sort of “farm” …
It is a large barn still to be restored in a 1500-hectare park between Milan and Pavia, owned by the Neorural company of the Natta family, famous for the only Italian nobel prize for chemistry. About 25 years ago the family bought this large piece of land to reconstruct the original rural environment, replanting woods, rice fields, wet meadows: now there are 3 universities in the area that study this ecosystem, because it seems to have returned as it was a thousand years ago .
In this incredible context of sustainable agriculture we want to create a Miscusi more agritourism where experimenting and training. We will work on the concepts of agrifood and agritech: we also try to educate our customers on quality and awareness.
Can we say that Miscusi is sustainable?
Sustainability is intrinsic in the model and in the product. FAO has declared that the Mediterranean diet is the most sustainable agri-food system in the world: a type of diet that leads to dialogue with others and gives psychophysical well-being.
12 – We talk about talent, what could be yours?
More than ‘talent’, so much dedication and perseverance are needed, talent is lost and found. The idea of imagining something and then succeeding in bringing it forward, going through great difficulties, always with a “drive” approach. I still believe that the real secret is to do something you like.
13 – Instead, in the specifics of Miscusi’s adventure what is the “goal” to reach?
For me they are two elements that are very easy to understand, but difficult to practice. My focus goes first to the guys who work with us and then to our customers: my goal is to make them both happy. The main lever is the product that conveys the value of sharing and joy. We are trying to create places where the climate is happy and people always want to come.
14 – What do you think about the importance of social media also in the field of food?
It’s nothing new, it’s a medium, like TV was a few years ago. A true story to tell, everyone is interested: it is the content that is the fundamental aspect that makes the difference.