MARANELLO, Italy (Reuters) - Food by triple Michelin starred chef Massimo Bottura will be served next to Ferrari engines when the car company relaunches the restaurant in Maranello where founder Enzo Ferrari once dined with friends and Formula 1 stars.
Il Cavallino will open again on Tuesday, across from Ferrari's headquarters at the heart of a region known around the world for fast cars and slow food.
The restaurant, closed in 2019 by previous owners, is now a cornerstone of Ferrari's new brand enhancement strategy, aimed at offering affluent customers and new clients more than just supercars.
A new women's and men's clothing collection, designed by Ferrari's creative director and former Armani designer Rocco Iannone and launched on Sunday, is also part of this new strategy.
"It looks good, it looks beautiful," Bottura said of the restaurant.
"I am looking at the past in a critical way, not in a nostalgic one, to bring the best of the past into the future, to renew tradition, exactly as Ferrari does every day," he told Reuters.
The Cavallino, designed by Iranian-French architect India Mahdavi, features Formula One memorabilia, Ferrari engines and racing car components displayed as art pieces. The firm's Prancing Horse, or Cavallino Rampante, badge is prominent.
The Cavallino is not the first restaurant Bottura has launched in collaboration with a luxury brand. In 2018 he opened the Osteria in Florence with Gucci. The duo repeated the venture last year in Beverly Hills.
He wants to offer a mixture of the past and the future, the traditional and the out-of-this-world.
"I am thinking about my grandmother, brought from the moon after two years, and then let into the kitchen of the Cavallino," Bottura said.
Known to cherish tradition with a modern twist, he will offer gourmet dishes featuring local ingredients.
"You cannot touch the tortellini," Bottura said. "You can touch the way you present them."
Bottura aims to give the restaurant "a lot of signature dishes" such as a creme caramel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and very old balsamic vinegar, another Modena ingredient.
"So very traditional in the flavour, very contemporary in the presentation," he said.
With more affordable prices than haute-cuisine restaurants, the Cavallino aims to welcome not just super-rich Ferrari owners but also Ferrari fans and food lovers. "It's the essence of a restaurant, we have to take care of people, of travellers, people who want to spend some time in a restaurant and enjoy," Bottura said.
"I think Enzo Ferrari would come, sit here and would eat tortellini as a historic compromise, not with chicken broth, not with cream, but with Parmigiano Reggiano sauce," he said.
Meanwhile, preparing for Tuesday's launch, a waiter armed with a tape measure is making sure the tablecloths drop down exactly the right number of centimetres.
(Editing by Giles Elgood)