Very close to the borders of the beautiful Italian Como Lake in Cernobbio, is a small restaurant that is known to foodies all over the world. Chef Davide Caranchini created a unique cooking style, combining the best products from nature around the lake with modern cooking techniques he learned in renowned restaurants such as Noma. Nordic cuisine at its best, but then in the Southern part of Europe.
Location & Interior
Materia is situated in the center of Cernobbio, a small village on the west coast of the Como lake. Due to this great location and the fabulous sights on the Como Lake, the village of only seven thousand inhabitants is yearly visited by large amounts of tourists. Cernobbio is also home to many famous villas of which Villa d’Este, now used as a luxury hotel, might be the most famous one.
In big contrast with those luxury villas is the interior design of Materia. Davide and his team chose on purpose for a minimalistic interior, where all elements that are not necessary, are removed. Apart from some small bookshelves and a wine fridge, there is nothing that can pull the attention away from the amazing food of the chef. The restaurant is rather small and there are two rooms where guests can be seated. The walls are painted dark brown and the wooden furniture fits perfectly in. Materia looked exactly like this when it opened in 2016 and has not changed since then.
The Chef & the team
Davide was born in 1990 and already as a child, he had a passion for food. It was no surprise that he joined the hotel management institute in Como to embark on a professional career in the culinary world. Once he graduated, he immediately wanted to gain international experience. On that journey, he worked with Chef Michel Roux Jr. in Le Gavroche. This is the place where Caranchini learned the importance of order and discipline in a professional kitchen. It is also there that he elevated his skills to cook fine dining food. After Le Gavroche, he joined Apsleys in London, one of the restaurants of German Chef Heinz Beck. Here he was immersed in the world of patisserie. However, the biggest change in his life and culinary career came, when he joined Noma of René Redzepi in Copenhagen. Here his love for the Nordic cuisine started. Back in Como, the young chef opened restaurant Materia in 2016.
In his kitchen, he respects and honors the traditions of the region and prepares the best local products with contemporary cooking techniques. Caranchini was awarded a Michelin star before he even turned thirty years old. The whole team in Materia is very young. Ambra Sberna, the girlfriend of the chef, is in charge of the service team. The sommelier is Luca Sberna.
Caranchini is an adventurous chef, who does not shy away from pairing ingredients of which you would never expect that they work so well together. His food is never boring. Davide applies modern cooking techniques to turn the local products of the region around the Como lake into amazing dishes. Vegetables play a crucial role in most of his creations. These vegetables he is growing in his own greenhouse or he sources them from local suppliers. He is continuously looking for the best products and for that works closely together with farmers and fishermen from his neighborhood. You could call his cooking style Nordic cuisine but with products that originate from a Southern country. Seasonality is also very important. On our visit, a full menu of which almost each dish was containing game meat was being served, next to a menu with the signature dishes of the chef.
Some examples of dishes that we tried during our visit :
- Cured trout, bone marrow, lemon and seaweed
- Pasta in a non-tomato sauce
- Grilled salad with black truffle
- Hommage to Milan, with foam of saffron and bone marrow ice cream
The chef is drawing inspiration from the region surrounding his restaurant. He starts from the product and applies techniques to turn them into great dishes. Most of his plates look aligned with the interior of the restaurant : minimalist, and removed from all superfluous. This is also reflected in the name of the restaurant. Materia means for the chef that substance is needed. What adds no value, is removed. In the interior of his restaurant, but also in his food.
In Materia, it is possible to eat à la carte, but most guests enjoy one of the menu’s the restaurant is offering.
Example tasting menu:
Service & Wine
The service team is led by Ambra Sberna, the girlfriend of chef Caranchini. Sberna spent her childhood in her family restaurant. Before she started to lead the service team in Materia, she gained experience in fine dining restaurants in Como, London and Florence. Together with her young team, she stands for a smooth and professional service, with lots of attention for detail. The atmosphere she creates with the team is comfortable, friendly and at no time stiff. Guests feel at home and are treated that way by the team.
The wines are selected by sommelier Luca Sberna. Sberna studied economics but developed a passion for wine and eventually decided to follow courses to become a professional sommelier. His wine list consists mainly out of labels from small winemakers of which most are Italian.
One could wonder why so much buzz is made in the culinary industry about this small restaurant with one Michelin star on the borders of the Como Lake. Once you visit the place and eat Davide’s food, you understand where the buzz is coming from. Chef Caranchini turns the great local produce from the region around the lake into wonderful and unique dishes, which surprise plate after plate. For the large number of tourists that visit Cernobbio and the Como Lake, the beauty of the region is already convincing enough to visit. Those in the knowing about the great food of Materia, as you now, have an additional reason to go. Maybe the most important reason to go.
Our videos about this restaurant
VIA CINQUE GIORNATE 32, CERNOBBIO 22012, COMO