Chef Gabriele Bagni has opened a new restaurant in Tuscany in the town of Arezzo. La Locanda del Convento showcases classic Tuscan cuisine with subtle Italian-American influences.
New York City has no shortage of talented chefs but there was something truly special about Gabriele Bagni. Several years ago, his Upper East Side restaurant, Leonardo Da Vinci Ristorante & Wine Bar, became an unofficial headquarters for me and my eclectic group of friends. Every person that I took there fell in love with Chef Bagni's exquisite Tuscan cuisine and his warm personality. For me, it was the perfect restaurant - it felt like home. And when it closed, I was heartbroken. Chef Bagni's food touched me in a strong emotional way - something I had not felt from a meal since my father, also a chef, had passed away.
But life is funny. At least seven years had passed since I had seen or heard from Chef Bagni and last summer I suddenly received a Facebook message from him.
It turns out that he had returned to Italy and he jokingly asked when I would visit Tuscany. Well, as fate would have it, I had already booked a trip to Rome and Tuscany and would be there in just a few weeks. To see Chef Bagni, happy in his homeland, and to taste his superb cooking again was a priceless gift. He hails from many generations of restaurant owners and is a true master of traditional and authentic Tuscan cuisine. Eating Chef Bagni's food, in the country of his birth, added an ineffable dimension to the experience.
image courtesy DiscoverTuscany.com
I was thrilled to recently hear from Chef Bagni that he has just embarked on a new culinary adventure - La Locanda del Convento. Located in the Tuscan town of Arezzo, about 60 kilometers from Florence and Siena, the restaurant is located in a 14th century convent and the grand opening is scheduled for April 5th. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner, and an American style brunch on Sundays that is inspired by Chef Bagni's time in the United States. Chef Bagni has described Arezzo as a charming town that visitors will enjoy for its historic churches, artwork, and antiques market.
I certainly plan on visiting Chef Bagni on my next trip to Tuscany and will unabashedly sample everything on La Locanda del Convento's menu! See you soon, Chef!