Cervo, Food Guide



Last week, we proudly unveiled our pop-up restaurant, La Piscina. The name itself promises a unique experience: a single table, 20 selected seats – all set in the decommissioned pool of the former Sunstar Hotel, right next to the Wiestibrücke bus stop in Zermatt. It's not just about the location; it's about the exceptional cuisine crafted by our head chef, Gaia Bongiorno.

Gaia, a native Sicilian, has perfected the art of cooking, presenting it under the label "home-made Italian-style cuisine." Her understanding of authentic Italian cuisine is simple yet impressive: it's about real, unadulterated flavors, just as you would find in the kitchens of Italy, without compromises or foreign adaptations.

As Gaia explains, Italian cuisine is rich in influences, ranging from the warm southern regions to the cooler climates of the north. While there are regional specialties, they are enjoyed throughout Italy. Her goal is to paint a comprehensive picture of Italian cuisine beyond the globally renowned pasta dishes.

Originally a hip-hop dancer, Gaia discovered her love for cooking twelve years ago at the age of 24. "I'm naturally a shy person. Dancing and cooking are ways for me to express myself, to show emotions," she says. And it starts early in the day: her thoughts revolve around dishes and new creations from the moment she wakes up.

The significance of cooking to Gaia is evident in an anecdote featuring a large, green Sicilian onion. Thanks to distributor Guido Botticelli, Sicilian products can now be imported to the mountain village of Zermatt. "The first time I held a Cipolla di Giarratana in Zermatt, I almost cried. It was more than an onion; it was a piece of home that I could now incorporate into a dish in my second home, Zermatt."

In La Piscina, Gaia blends her two homes into a unique culinary experience. She creates contrasts between the sea and the mountains, as seen in her creative twist on the traditional Tortelloni con le sarde (with sardines). Instead of Mediterranean pine nuts, she uses local chestnuts and serves the tortelloni in warming beef broth to give the summery recipe a touch of winter.

However, Gaia emphasizes, "The product is the protagonist." All her traditional recipes evolve from the quality of the ingredients. Her credo is clear: "The less you touch the product, the better."

Asked about what she appreciates in her work for CERVO, Gaia raves about the spontaneous and easy-going nature of Daniel Lauber, who trusts her and allows creative freedom. "Having someone recognize my talent means a lot. It's like standing in front of a blank canvas and having the opportunity to unfold artistically."

Cooking for a small group, gathered around a single table, exchanging and getting to know each other, reminds Gaia of her homeland. Since this summer, she also runs her own restaurant there in her garden – with just one table for 10 guests. For Gaia, this is the perfect opportunity to connect with people personally and share her love for culinary arts.

La Piscina is not just a pop-up restaurant; it's a journey through Gaia's passion for authentic Italian cuisine, where the product always takes center stage.

Our pop-up is open until February 4, 2024, from Thursday to Sunday*. At La Piscina, there is one service available. Guests are invited to arrive between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM." The menu without drinks is priced at CHF 98, and with water and wine pairing (1 glass of bubbles, 1 glass of white wine, 1 glass of red wine), it costs CHF 128.

*Closed from December 21 to 31, 2023.

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