Inside Massimo Bottura’s new Ferrari restaurant Cavallino in Maranello
Ferrari’s legendary restaurant Cavallino has been reborn, reopening the doors to its newly reimagined venue opposite the entrance to the iconic Italian car manufacturer’s Maranello factory. The restaurant, headed by world-class, three-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura, brings new life to the historic location in Via Abetone Inferiore, the space redesigned in a collaboration between Bottura and architect India Mahdavi.
The trattoria, which is in itself an extension of the brand’s unrivalled commitment to passion and excellence, continues to preserve and celebrate the endless memories and successes that have been marked within these very same walls, evoking the origins of the company and the inimitable pioneering spirit of its founder Enzo Ferrari.
The legacy of The Cavallino dates back as far as 1942, the year in which Ferrari took over the land of the former Fondo Cavani, turning the farmhouse into a canteen, changing room and training centre for the workforce, before officially opening the space to the public as the Cavallino Restaurant in 1950.
Here, the founder used to meet with staff, clients and close friends for lunch in the private room where he loved to watch the Grand Prix; among them was Gioacchino Colombo, who designed the first Ferrari 125S Sport car in 1945. In the past, illustrious guests such as Prince Bernardo of Holland, Princess Liliana de Rèthy and three-time world champion Jackie Stewart, as well as all the drivers and engineers who have been part of Team Ferrari over the decades, have sat at these tables.
In 1987, Enzo Ferrari told Bernie Ecclestone and Jean-Marie Balestre while at the Cavallino that he would never have accepted the new rules that called for turbocharged engines to be phased out in favour of naturally aspirated engines; to which they replied, “Sir, you write the rules”.
The contemporary reinterpretation of this space brings back to the forefront the authentic simplicity of a cult destination that is part of the Maranello legend.
Bottura, born and raised in Modena, a great admirer of Ferraris and an ambassador of excellence in his field, describes the Cavallino as “a new vision and a new way of bringing Modenese cuisine to life”.
At the Cavallino, tradition is the focal point, and the history and identity of the territory are revisited in a contemporary style to bring out the best of the past in the flavours of the present and the future. “It’s good, healthy cooking, with a story behind every dish; it’s cooking you can’t say no to.”
So the Filetto alla Rossini becomes a Cotechino alla Rossini, crowned with a mineral truffle and a Modena black cherry sauce to sweeten the palate; the gnocco fritto is airy and crispy, served with a selection of Emilian cured meats; the bollito is cooked at a low temperature to preserve the organoleptic properties of the meat from the best artisans and farmers; and bread is made from traditional grains in naturally leavened loaves.
Even the classic tortellini, cooked in capon broth and served in a Parmigiano Reggiano cream, are even more tasty because they are specially prepared by the Tortellante training project that instructs young adults with autism in the art of making tortellini by hand, thanks to the rezdore – grandmothers from Modena – who pass on the tradition.
The Cavallino embraces a vision of hospitality to offer everyone the possibility to be part of the Ferrari universe, to breathe in the same atmosphere and the same ideals that have guided the founder and all those who have actively contributed to shaping the legend for almost 75 years. Similarly, it offers Bottura’s vision of Italian tradition seen in a contemporary rather than nostalgic perspective.
This is why, at the Cavallino, there will be a place for people who share a passion for Ferrari and for the Osteria Francescana: brand lovers, Ferrari customers and foodies, but also the local public.
Even the new concept of the Cavallino continues to preserve and celebrate the spirit and distinguishing characteristics of its territory of origin. The Modenese identity and a sense of belonging and friendliness will be felt in every room, every dish and every detail of an immersive project that embodies the precision and care displayed by the work of Ferrari, of the Osteria Francescana team and of Mahdavi’s studio, all set in comfortable and welcoming surroundings.
Modenese Chef Riccardo Forapani, who trained for 13 years at the Osteria Francescana, oversees the kitchen, conveying his strong and long-standing connection to the Emilian tradition and the quality of local ingredients along with his passion for further developing a timeless culinary offering. The dining room is under the direction of Luis Diaz, who boasts outstanding international experience and was awarded the title of best young Maître d’Italia in 2016, assisted by sommelier Silvia Campolucci.
On the edge of the site of the factory, the Gestione Sportiva racing department and the new flagship store in Maranello, Cavallino has been completely renovated and redesigned by Mahdavi and her studio, in order to revitalise its identity, design, interior architecture and garden, balancing comfort and taste to celebrate the delight of an Italian way of life.
In the old farmhouse building, with its new red façade, Mahdavi has played with the traditional decorative vocabulary of the Italian trattoria and all its architectural codes and furniture, inspired by the Ferrari world, by its spirit of conquest, its audacity and its joyful prestige.
From the entrance, the restaurant’s rooms are connected via a series of arches that carve the spaces with rhythm, giving energy to the perspectives, and that seem to guide visitors to their table with a friendly smile.
The floor is covered with traditional terracotta tiles, alternating between earth and ivory tiles in a chequerboard pattern, like a well-ironed tablecloth. Oak panelling on the walls where the tables lean and the bench backrests made of yellow leather with rounded and graphic shapes outline the rooms with delight. Also on the walls, rare celebratory collections of photographs, posters, souvenirs and memorabilia reveal the spirit of the place and the story behind Ferrari’s incredible industrial and sporting adventure.
The garden, redesigned with the help of Marco Bay, forms a patio like an open-air dining room – a haven of greenery in the shade of a pergola. Upstairs, a balcony borders two private lounges on a rooftop terrace. Here, guests can enjoy an open-air meal with a direct view on the main entrance to the factory at number 4 on Maranello’s most famous street.
On the ground floor, the Enzo Room, with its poplar wood panelling, also draws on this story of emotion and passion. The founder used to sit here, in front of the fireplace, watching the races. Mahdavi brings this intimate room back to life, through the creation of a private dining room breached by a large bay window, with movable wooden slats, opening onto a sunny driveway – as if Enzo Ferrari had just parked his car.
To restore the trattoria’s modernity and infuse it with a new identity, Mahdavi has revisited Ferrari’s heritage and visual vocabulary. Using digitisation and enlargement, the firm’s logo, the Prancing Horse, was pixelised to create a unique identity for the restaurant.
The pixelised Cavallino has been applied on many surfaces and materials – on perforated metal for the entrance gate, glass mosaic on the walls, on the restaurant’s wallpaper and even in the Burano lace that adorns the white net curtains on the windows, as in any self-respecting trattoria.
In addition to playing with the motif of Ferrari engines, which she arranged into small enfilades, Mahdavi has also designed a new leather seat exclusively for this location: somewhere between a chair and an armchair.
Undertaken with wit and communicative joy, the restaurant is revived and reopened as a joyful, optimistic and friendly response to a year full of separations, and is an invitation to share and spend time together at the table, thanks also to the collaboration with selected partners of excellence in the Made in Italy sectors of industry and manufacturing, which over the last year have worked assiduously with Mahdavi to create a series of furniture, objects and custom-made elements produced exclusively for Ferrari. “Cavallino celebrates the delights of an Italian way of life, with a certain sense of comfort and taste – it’s a new experience brought to the Italian trattoria.”
The editorial unit
Photos: Danilo Scarpati