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Down Rodeo Drive and perched atop the roof of Gucci’s Beverly Hills boutique is Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura. Opened in February 2020 after the success of its inaugural concept in Florence, Italy, the intimate restaurant offers sumptuous Italian-centric cuisine with a menu helmed by the three-Michelin-starred Chef Massimo Bottura.
With the summer sun still shining, Whitewall took a trip to the serene outdoor setting in Los Angeles to find Chef Mattia Agazzi in the hotspot's kitchen—a young yet ultra-talented cook who brings a take on cuisine and collaborative recipes influenced by local produce, his upbringing in Bergamo, and past training in cities like Paris, Sydney, Modena, and Florence. For years prior, he worked with acclaimed chefs around the globe to master heightened techniques and contemporary takes on classics, but it was working with Bottura directly that led to his culinary journey with Gucci.
Since his move to Los Angeles, Agazzi has made the undeniably chic eatery a fixture on Rodeo Drive with a waitlist worth nothing. His trained techniques, delectable dishes, and unique presentations reel in visitors and regulars alike, stunning them with scrumptious tortellini, bee-shaped butter for bread, and uni-adorned carbonara. The space shines for its design choices, too, including herringbone wood and Italian marble mosaic flooring, an outdoor bar made from an antique pulpit, and velvet banquettes with tassels and the brand's "GG" monogram tufted throughout.
After sampling an array of savory plates and meeting with his team, we spoke with Agazzi about how his approach to food is reliant on his experiences and surroundings, how he aided others amid the pandemic with food, and where he may be found when he's not in the kitchen.
WHITEWALL: You mentioned you've been interested in cooking since you were a child growing up in Bergamo. How did that lead you to some of the world's top restaurants?
MATTIA AGAZZI: After school, I started working at the three-Michelin-starred Da Vittorio, with Chef Enrico Cerea, where I stayed for four years. Then, I traveled around the world, gaining more experience. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée in Paris and Yellow Restaurant—a vegetarian restaurant in Sydney where I was introduced to fermentation and all the creative spectrum that vegetables offer—are two of the places I worked in.
Eventually, I returned to Italy, but I was about to leave again for another experience when I received an email from Osteria Francescana, where I sent my resume months before. I didn’t think twice. I just packed and drove to Modena, the day after that email. Working with Massimo Bottura was one of my biggest achievements. After a period at Osteria Francescana, he offered me the role of sous chef for Karime Lopez at Gucci Osteria Florence. And when plans were underway for the new opening in Beverly Hills, they proposed to me this incredible opportunity.
WW: What parts of your traditional upbringing in Italy do you bring to the menu in Los Angeles?
MA: I come from Bergamo, a town still heavily based on many traditions regarding food production, such as fishing, foraging, agriculture, and natural farming. For my dishes, I take inspiration from these practices. Also, I love animals, nature, and the mountains—to the point that my favorite hobby is rock climbing. Inevitably, when I was offered to come to Beverly Hills, I couldn't wait to bring all these traditions and passions to America with me.
I would say that the main sources of inspiration are my Italian roots and the new Californian surroundings. I am definitely influenced by the Italian tradition, but also by nature and the music I listen to. To give you an example, the dish Coming from the Hills - I Love Rock Climbing (local white trout, hazelnuts, and mushrooms) is inspired by my love of rock climbing. California is incredible for rock climbing with its stunning landscapes.
My Grandpa used to take me on fishing and foraging trips in the countryside and mountains near Bergamo. These memories and new experiences come together for dish development, so the menu is always very personal and unique. Talking about my origin, the region I come from in Italy, Lombardy, is the one that gave birth to the art of risotto. So, another interesting example to mention is Risotto Camouflaged As Pizza, a dish that brings together two very recognizable Italian flavors—pizza and risotto. I called it this because it tastes more like pizza than pizza itself, and because it is a reference to Massimo Bottura, who joked with me, "Come on Mattia! Get ready, quick! We’re going to Beverly Hills to open a pizzeria!" Obviously, keeping me in the dark, it was anything but a pizzeria! It turned out to be Gucci Osteria that we were going to open.
WW: Can you tell us about some of the unique techniques and ingredients you used in dishes?
MA: For our Uni Carbonara, we use cured cuttlefish. We treat the cuttlefish exactly like guanciale, curing it in salt and spices for about three weeks and then hang it to let it dry.
Another very interesting one is the technique we use to make our polenta chips. We cook the polenta as per tradition, for about one hour in the pot. Once ready, we blend it and then spread it on parchment paper. We let it dry overnight, and the next day we puff it. We serve the polenta chips together with a dish called Welcome Home, with taleggio cheese and a beef ragu. It's a dish that recalls Bergamo in different ways, but revisited.
WW: How do you and Massimo Bottura work together on the menu? What is that process like?
MA: Massimo is and has always been a great inspiration not only for myself, but for all Italian chefs. He doesn’t just communicate through his dishes, but through so many aspects of our lives. Massimo didn’t stop at the kitchen. He has been a mentor in so many areas—for example, the no waste and the green actions we can implement. He made me understand that it’s not just about “cooking." There is a message, an emotion, that goes from us to our guests. That’s a big responsibility, but also that’s where the art begins. For what regards the creative process at the restaurant Gucci Osteria Beverly Hills, we have our own identity. The ideas can come from everywhere, and it’s generally a teamwork, from the concept to the actual development.
WW: What is your favorite not-miss dish on the menu?
MA: There are two dishes that you can’t miss here. The first is ‘Coming from the Hills “I Love Rock Climbing”, which is local white trout, hazelnuts and mushrooms. The fish is incredible in Beverly Hills, the quality, the variety, and I have added an Asian touch to the preparation of this dish. And, as the title already reveals, it inherently talks of my style and my passions. The other one is ‘Risotto camouflaged as pizza’. It’s a signature dish, one of the most fun and interesting ones, if not only for the story behind it.
WW: How would you describe the atmosphere at the Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills?
MA: Intimate and cozy. We want guests to feel relaxed and enjoy their experience.
WW: How do you spend your time in L.A. outside of the kitchen?
MA: I love nature and, whenever possible, I try to get away from the city to immerse myself into it. I enjoy eating food of different cultures, discovering ever new flavours and combinations.
WW: The restaurant opened just before the pandemic force bouts of isolation. What was that period of time like for you?
MA: Like many, I think the biggest challenge was to find our feet again, from where we left off, and get into the flow. However, we have to acknowledge that this time for us turned out to be a different way to strengthen our team, our foundations. While the traditional restaurant industry in L.A. was locked down, we managed to stay connected and continued working for a different cause.
In collaboration with Hollywood Food Coalition, we served about 10,000 meals to the people in need during the lockdown. We did this all together, with Vanessa (our sous chef), Tamara (our pastry chef) and Christian (our restaurant manager), sharing our passion with people who do not always have the possibility even to choose what to eat. That has fortified us not only as a team, but our souls, too.
WW: How did the pandemic impact your idea of food? Or the importance of it?
MA: As we had to close our doors more than once, every time we got back was like a brand new start. It felt like opening the restaurant anew, three times in one year. But every time, we brought in fresh ideas and a positive approach. For what regards the service, we organized a to-go menu that could be enjoyed at home, featuring dishes like tortellini and potato pie. We studied the best options to be prepared as takeaways, without losing quality, and, of course, the preparation included the use of only eco-friendly packaging.
This period also turned out to be a different way to strengthen our team, our foundations. We managed to stay connected and continued working for a different cause. In collaboration with Hollywood Food Coalition, we served about 10,000 meals to the people in need during the lockdown. We did this all together, sharing our passion with people who do not always have the possibility even to choose what to eat. That has strengthened us not only as a team but our souls too. We are happy to be still involved somehow in this project.
WW: What are you working on next?
MA: New dishes; the new menu. I am constantly inspired by the community, the places I visit, my passions. I’m in a continuous creative state!