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Luigi Sartini

Luigi Sartini

Luigi was able to fulfil his dream after meeting Maria Righi, who was the fourth generation in her family to own the Pianello Palace, in the centre of the city. She’d been running it as a restaurant since 1965, but wanted to bring it into the modern day and showcase San Marino’s local cuisine. Luigi took over the kitchen in 1990, and Ristorante Righi soon began to become known for its unique, top quality food.

‘My philosophy is simple; to cook local cuisine with a great respect for produce and seasonality,’ says Luigi. ‘I try to create simple plates which look clean and are balanced in flavour and texture.’ His signature dishes all represent San Marino’s food and drink (he even has a menu which only uses ingredients produced within the city) and has become incredibly popular with both visitors and locals – particularly the state’s politicians who regularly eat at the restaurant after meetings.

In 2008, Luigi won his first Michelin star, which he puts down to his hard work and dedication at Ristorante Righi over the years. This shone the culinary spotlight on San Marino, and made Luigi the region’s most prominent chef.

Nowadays, Luigi loves nothing more than coming up with new dishes for his menus. ‘I come up with new dishes in two ways,’ he says. ‘I re-elaborate traditional dishes, which requires good technical skills and the very best ingredients, or I work with my instincts, insights and perceptions when working with an ingredient or travelling, turning it into a completed dish.’

Three things you should know

Luigi is happy to use ingredients from all over Italy, but prefers using produce from San Marino, Marche and Emilia-Romagna. One thing his kitchen is never without, however, is the local olive oil.

Two of Luigi's favourite dishes at Ristorante Righi are his meat lasagne and cheese fondue, which uses local varieties only found in San Marino.

Luigi plans to publish a cookbook celebrating the cuisine of San Marino in the near future, looking at the food of the past, how it has evolved and the next step for the region's culinary scene.