Interior

Keep Calm and Eat Pasta

May 25, 2015 |

At the PIANO B Restaurant and Wine Bar
with Gianantonio Candiani

 

People walk into PIANO B and feel, immediately, and believe that they are in Italy. The Italian design elements are critical but with a Nepali essence

 

How did your vision for PIANO B evolve and take shape?

I have a Pastapur stall at the 1905 and the Yellow House. This started two years ago. People began requesting me to open a restaurant - it was not my dream job but rather a passion. It came naturally for me to plan and open an Italian restaurant. I created this enterprise to serve the public. There is a dearth, in Kathmandu, of proper, handmade, follow-through cuisine. I sometimes feel that the food here has lost its soul. People also regularly tell me what to do. I tend not to listen because, for example, masala in ravioli is an absolute no-no. You must accept my rule in my house and in my kitchen!

My guiding purpose is to serve high quality Italian food with the cheapest possible wine on offer. I mean cheap not in terms of quality but rather in terms of price. I built the space from scratch with a single thought in mind - for people to gather around together with a glass of wine and delicious tapas. Conversations and interactions must flow here. And if there is something cooking in the kitchen, then it is time to eat too. It is diffi cult to maintain the menu because we change it every day which is a key theme around which Piano B was created.

Please describe some essential features of the cuisine and design that define PIANO B.

People walk into PIANO B and feel, immediately, and believe that they are in Italy! The Italian design elements are critical but with a Nepali essence. The restaurant design forges together essential principles starting with the table, the bar, the storage and the minimalist foundation that allows a dynamism among them. The décor is quintessential to the Wine Bar cause - the trend in Italy now is to create and offer simplicity in wine bar designs. Our tablemats are postmodern too, made of lokta and a simple but enduring message: “keep calm and eat pasta.” The furniture is second hand and repurposed. Both my bar and kitchen are authentic. You want to eat, basically! The pasta, lasagne and the meat dishes are continuously shuffled giving the menu and the restaurant a dynamic and an interactive feel.

The restaurant design forges together essential principles starting with the table, the bar, the storage and the minimalist foundation that allows a dynamism among them

The décor is quintessential to the Wine Bar at Piano B as the trend now in Italy is to create and offer simplicity in wine bar designs.

In spatial terms, which aspects for Italian culture do you consider important for PIANO B?

Genuineness. Attention to ingredients and detail are very important. Italian food varies from town to town and region to region. Sometimes one can fi nd a Michelin Star restaurant right next to a cheap wine bar. The geographical distance from Italy here brings me to the basics. I need to keep the menu simple and not drown the food with garlic and cream. I want to bring to Lalitpur the basic goodness of Italian cuisine. Essentially, Italian cuisine is a healthy plate of pasta with a glass of wine. The space must reflect and augment this through and with the authentic character of the furniture and the interiors.

It is amazing to see that many Nepali people speak Italian. And people are keen to see me behind the bar. I know what is fresh because I have to be in the kitchen. My philosophy for the kitchen staff is: forget everything and follow me. For example, the tomato pasta is pasta and tomato without extra decorations. The rules too are simple – and, in essence, the restaurant reflects and repurposes this norm.

How do you view the growing restaurant and café culture in Kathmandu?

From my perspective, I can see curiosity and interest among young Nepali people in the new developments happening every day. Dating couples want to experience something new and interesting on the fi rst date. I like to walk them through the dish I am making for them. It is important to build and maintain trust. Ravioli is momo. Meat ragout is made from kima. Italian cuisine uses the same ingredients as Nepali cuisine in an entirely different way and in different mixtures. Seventy-fi ve percent of the customers at PIANO B are Nepali. A lot of Nepali customers are surprised to see me serving the food.

Candiani believes in building and maintaining trust with his customers. The chef-andowner likes to walk customers through the dish he is making for them and serve it as well.

Are there any similarities and meeting points between the Italian and Nepali food movements?

In Nepal, food is usually served at the end of an event. We play Italian Jazz on the radio. I purposely advise the chef to cook bistarai, bistarai. The interiors, in particular, facilitate the gathering and a slowness that we all need in our food styles. I wait to see the place fi lled with laughter, chats and wine. I chose this space especially with the tables outside in mind. The social dynamic is crucial for PIANO B. Piano means bistarai and B stands for plan B. We invite everyone to come here and enjoy the food, atmosphere and a slice of Italian living.

 

 


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