Intro by Gabriele Stabile
Text by Roberta Virgilio
Video by Ari Takahashi
When Mazzo and Roberta Virgilio first gave me a hint of a new joint effort I was immediately curious. I had seen chefs turning closet sized restaurants to fried chicken shacks before but after all this is Italy and in the kitchen we do it better. The crumb mix Francesca, Marco and Roberta came up with has the power of conjuring up memories of lost childhood and the excitement of modern day refreshment. Food, sometimes, can be reassuring and comforting and relevant and exciting at the same time. This is one of those times. If you make it to Legs ( please open one downtown, or an ape truck, I can drive! ) you’ll probably go for the fried chicken sandwiches ( featuring dark meat ), but also the wings and the fries ( old fellas they pick themselves ) are equally satisfying. Great beers and all in all, solid summertime hang.
Roberta @ Legs
Legs, as often happens, has its birth from nightly chats at a counter between friends, friends belonging to the world of food, to the world of beer, but also – luckily – able to be completely transversal to different sectors, worlds and passions. It seeds in a relationship with the guys of Mazzo, Francesca and Marco, built up in the last two years to a friendship, made of evenings in Via delle Rose 54 imagining worlds and ways of contaminating and nourishing the sphere of cooking with other interests and paths.
So while Francesca and Marco outlined the idea of the tour and of Mazzo Invaders, we talked about what could happen of Via delle Rose 54, how many transformations it could undergo and how it could become the scene of other and different catering realities. We imagined ghost restaurants, deliveries but also the opportunity to say goodbye to the space that had hosted the lucky 6 years of Mazzo and its life. Then one day they talked to me about the idea-meeting Mazzo&Artisan, good beer and crispy fried chicken, and, given my experience, it was completely natural to turn ideas and images into numbers, procedures and methods that could be realized even without their hands.
That’s how the possibility of translating this new Mazzo&Artisan combo into Legs was born. Since the definition of the idea I played the role of Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar offering a different point of view from that of both, planning operationally and numerically the sustainability of the format.
It was very interesting to take a dish that is a symbol of Mazzo and the Italian spirit , which belongs to their cuisine and has always been made according to the highest quality criteria, and making possible for it to be reproduced in almost total fidelity without compromising its replicability and standardization, over time and with the idea of opening it in different stores and therefore locations.
So, in addition to having studied with them a business plan that could make them imagine what life they could expect in Via delle Rose 54, I had the opportunity to express the two main souls of my training and my life choices: food product engineering and the procedure definition
I also had the pleasure of helping Francesca and Marco with my presence in Rome, while they took off and landed with the first stages of Mazzo Invaders. Respect and mutual trust did the rest.
Afternoons of overdosing on fried chickens and marinated cabbage were the scenarios of the discussions, if you can call them so, on what techniques and tricks could make life easier for Legs. And so we arrived to the choice of boned thighs, the famous and juicy brown meat, tastier and with a more interesting texture compared to the breast (among other things already in the process of being included in the offer for other uses, as well as the skin – because the philosophy of nose-to-tail-eating remains fundamental – to name one of the places of the heart that I share with Francesca and Marco). We selected suppliers of potatoes that could give us old potatoes which have the right moisture content and perform best in frying.
We studied what we shared as one of the elements that most of all bore the identity of Mazzo and the Italian identity of Legs: bread for the coating. It has been produced by hand for years by Marco to obtain a coarse grain but perfectly balanced with its finest components, the breadcrumbs used to coat Mazzo’s fried chicken was also included as a souvenir in the tote bag of gifts of the 5th anniversary of Mazzo, seasoned with the historic onion powder that gives it a spicy note. How to make it in quantity and in a more agile way was one of our first concerns and then the epiphany in a memory: as a child my mother made me use the meat grinder to make breadcrumbs at home. And so, between amarcord and tradition, the trick was done
Standards, procedures, replicability, many words that often move away from the concept of quality, freshness and fun. Not for me; in fact I imagine and see a path in the opposite direction in these same words. I aim to apply these concepts to projects aimed at sharing and quality, without forgetting fun and economy, sustainability in all its forms.
Video by Ari Takahashi who, after a recent visit at Legs, came with me for a centocelle shoyu ramen. More on that soon, hopefully.
Via delle Rose, 54
00171 Roma (RM)
Tel: +39 06 6496 2847