The Good Italian

PASSION talks to Nicolas Lazzaroni and finds out about his recipe of success as the executive chef of Settimo Cielo.

Nicolas Lazzaroni is not a new figure on Bali’s culinary scene. In fact, he has contributed to the progress of the island’s dining scene with his signature modern take on traditional cuisine. Be it Asian or Italian, as he expertly done for Settimo Cielo, his creation always offers an interesting experience, flavour, and presentation. 

The Sydneysider has called Bali home since 2011. He was in charge of the new menu of Bridges Bali and later, also led Uma Cucina at Uma by Como, Ubud. We finally get the time to catch up with this busy chef and ask him about his current occupation and how he thinks about the local Italian food scene.

Can you tell us about Settimo Cielo and what’s new this year?

We call it a rustic refined Italian restaurant. We take the rustic elements from traditional Italian dish and refine it, making it modern in term of presentation. The flavour of the dishes is wholesome and the setting is elegant without being too formal. This year, we want to collaborate with other chefs and become a venue that develops young talents and let them showcase their skills. There will be wine dinners and cocktail pairings. 

How does the restaurant differ from the other Italian restaurants in Bali?
We want to break the image of yet another casual Italian restaurant. Settimo Cielo is a little high-end and more sophisticated but it’s not a fine dining restaurant. It is something in-between, not the casual and common food but also not the super fancy elegant restaurant.

Did you grow up with Italian cuisine?
Well, my father is Italian and I was trained in an Italian restaurant. I didn’t grow up with Italian food but accidentally learned it and experimented with the bits and pieces by myself. On the contrary, I was so deprived of good Italian food back then in Australia, I taught myself to cook good Italian dishes otherwise I wouldn’t get anything nice!

How do you define and good Italian dish?
It needs a good level of authenticity and skill. You need to master a lot of details like for example, how to make a good fresh pasta. It’s not just a composition of eggs, water, and flour! There are details that a chef can just skip over, and it will still resemble the real thing but it will never have that same finesse. I realize that there are a lot of variations. The food from the north and the south is different. If you get three Italians on a table, they will argue about it all night long!

What is your favourite Italian dish and why?
Gnocchi. I love the flavour and the texture as well as its versatility. It is also a good showcase of the chef’s skill. It is one of those thing when someone can make it resembles a gnocchi quite easily, but to get the right texture and composition is another story.

How do you see the Italian food scene in Bali?
It’s getting better. For high-end Italian or authentic Italian restaurants, there are much more variety than 7 years ago when I first came here. However, I would love to see a new concept for Italian restaurant. We’ve done high-end, we’ve done traditional Italian, we’ve done the cheap and nasty, but there’s nothing that really new, bold, and fun with a good quality and impeccable service. I am looking forward to change that!