Amongst Italy’s most interesting culinary personalities, Isa Mazzocchi certainly takes her place on the list. Mazzocchi is the chef and owner of “La Palta” restaurant in Bilegno, a reality begun over 30 years ago. The Piacenza native was recently awarded the “Michelin Chef Donna 2021 by Veuve Clicquot” (Michelin award for 2021’s finest Female Chef sponsored by Veuve Clicquot).
Mazzocchi embodies the ideal balance between tradition and innovation, family and work, creativity and toeing the line.
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WHERE TO GO FOR A TASTE OF PIACENZA-AREA PARADISE
Upon sitting down at your table in Mazzocchi’s countryside inn restaurant, you can instantly feel the reassuring aura of calm settling down with you. The dining area reinforces the sensation of stability, with its clean, somber furnishings. The endless, grassy expanses of the Tidone Vally as seen from the dining room windows, along with the warm presence of Monica Mazzocchi and Roberto Gazzola, Isa’s sister and husband respectively, bring each guest to another dimension of comfort and ease.
The serene atmosphere we enjoy here is also thanks to the restaurant’s very essence. The name, La Palta, comes from the historic Piacenza nickname for a town’s general store, locally referred to as the Sali & Tabacchi shop. People would meet here as if at a local watering hole, to trade gossip and news. This specific locale was also where the Mazzocchi sisters’ parents had inaugurated their own casual dining spot.
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LA PALTA’S ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY
The La Palta restaurant therefore has always been a place devoted to conviviality and community. We can see these elements clearly expressed today, even if in a slightly different form thanks the technique and research that goes into each plate and dish Isa puts together. This dedication to looking towards culinary trends actually allows Isa to explore new gourmet horizons without abandoning her own roots.
ISA MAZZOCCHI’S CULINARY INSPIRATION IN HER VERY DNA
The Mazzocchi sisters began their culinary voyage together, in La Palta, where “Monica loved to serve customers, even as a little girl. Isa instead preferred to stay in the kitchen, learning the secrets of kneading a fresh pasta dough along with her mother, and shaping classic tortelli con la coda.”
Isa’s culinary passion stemmed from her childhood, but carried her onwards to collaborations with other exciting gourmet chefs, like Georges Cogny, Paolo Vai, Gianfranco Vissani, Mary Barale, and Gualtiero Marchesi. At 19 years of age, Isa ventured into her own restaurant territory, opening La Palta, which in 2011 was awarded a Michelin star in recognition of the service and culinary approach.
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MAZZOCCHI’S SIGNATURE STYLE
The focal point of Mazzocchi’s cooking remains a fundamental link with the region’s terroir, and local products and techniques. The harmonious dishes Mazzocchi presents tend to highlight the unusual features of the region, presenting a comforting cuisine focused on the balance of flavors rather than any contrasts. Thanks to this approach, Mazzocchi is able to explore realms beyond the borders of her native region in search of technical components.
Thanks to this philosophy, unforgettable dishes like "Raviolo in Six Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano” were created, as well as the recent "Seared Deer with Peanuts and Burdock with Wild Trebbia-Area Herbs,” or the “Millefoglie with Goose Foie Gras and Bananas.”
Classic flavors are reborn in new shapes and dimensions, enhanced and transformed very often by the fresh, wild aromatic herbs Isa collects each morning. Through a method of culinary alchemy, Isa is able to combine raw local ingredients provided by local farmers together with local aromatics, giving each dish a wider international scope.
Each dish reflects Isa’s passion for art, and presentations take on the form of edible painting that reflect the chef’s sensitivity towards art and painting. As such, we witness the balance Isa finds between taste, flavor, and sight.
ISA MAZZOCCHI LEAVES US ALWAYS EAGER FOR MORE TASTES AND SENSATIONS
What’s the end result of Isa’s cooking? A seamless blend of past and future, a timeless cuisine entirely at the service of the human soul. Eating with Isa is a regeneration of the spirit, leading the soul into the vibrant heart of Isa Mazzocchi’s culinary vision.
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