DININGIntroducing Al Mare restaurant at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah

Al Mare’s Head Chef Marco Calenzo shares what you can expect when dining at the Mediterranean restaurant

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Inspired by his Italian upbringing and Al Mare’s name – which means ‘at the sea,’ in Italian – Marco is behind the restaurant’s light Mediterranean dishes which merge the culinary delights of the French Riviera with regional delicacies from northern Italy. Sip a glass of wine or an artisanal cocktail as you dine near Al Mare’s convivial kitchen, private dining room or al fresco patio in summer. Here, Marco tells us more about the restaurant.

 

How did you first fall in love with food?

Food has been a big part of my life since childhood. My mother came from a family of farmers and my father was a sailor, so from a young age, I was involved in fishing and rearing animals – things that I now recognise as simple pleasures that were the springboard to my career.

I believe my strongest quality as a chef is my memory for food. Nuanced flavours and tiny details remain engraved in my mind even years later.

Plating by chef at Al Mare

 

How did you become a chef?

Oddly enough, my professional journey only began when I decided to follow my best friend to catering school. We had studied together since nursery and so the decision was driven by companionship rather than a love for cooking.

My passion developed while I was there, and the more the years went by, the more my passion grew. Ironically, my friend ended up pursuing a different career.

 

What can diners expect from Al Mare's menu?

Al Mare is an elevated portrait of traditional Italian dining. It takes guests on a journey across Italy through exceptional ingredients and reflects many aspects of Italian culture. I hope Italian guests will identify with our menu, while at the same time finding something new and unique.

Our signature favourite dishes, including our Pan seared lamb in herb crust & Sicilian vegetable caponata, are available all year round while the a la carte menu will rotate to compliment each season.

 

What’s your favourite dish on Al Mare’s menu?

Our risotto with saffron and liquorice. I particularly love the art of risotto, it requires meticulous execution to reach the perfect balance of acidity, creaminess and flavour. We cook our risotto in Al Mare with a modern technique to ensure the perfect dish.

Risotto Allo Zafferano

 

Where have you sourced the ingredients for Al Mare?

Much of the archetypal Italian produce such as salami, cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar is imported directly from Italy. For other ingredients, we use local produce of the highest quality. We make use of a handful of small producers that are not widely accessible through regular markets, ensuring every component of each dish is outstanding.

 

What kind of drinks does Al Mare serve?

A cornerstone of the Italian lifestyle, the aperitivo is a beloved cultural panacea, and our bar team has curated a refined selection. Al Mare’s dishes are offered alongside a carefully curated wine list and artisanal cocktails, including time-honoured classics with a Mediterranean twist.

 

How did spending more time at home during the pandemic affect your cooking?

I have been working non stop since the first lockdown, and have not enjoyed a holiday since 2019. Nonetheless, the pandemic gave me time to reflect. I learnt about the best way to use our time and reinvent the way we look at things, and this has certainly filtered down into how we work in the kitchen.

 

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in cooking?

I often joke to the younger generation that there are better jobs for their future, because culinary jobs usually do not deliver instant gratification. In this industry, patience and hard work are of the essence but the reward of doing something you love and the pleasure of creating art in the form of food daily makes it worthwhile.

 

Nestled in one of London’s most stylish neighbourhoods, Knightsbridge, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is perfectly placed for you to explore the capital’s boutiques, Royal Parks and theatre. For updates, follow us on @almarelondon and tag #AlMareLondon and #TheCarltonTower on Facebook and Instagram.