Last year Botania Relais & Spa encountered a season full of novelties, starting with the opening of Ischia’s first vegetarian restaurant, “Il Mirto”, which since then has aimed rightly high, chasing the first star. Led by the new Executive Chef Tommaso Luongo, this marvellous venue blends aesthetics and flavour for an amazing gourmet experience.
Looking for a location to host his wedding, the young chef was addressed straight to Botania. Then the meeting with a visionary entrepreneur like Luigi Polito was crucial in his decision to join the family: a shared idea of the gastronomic offer and the sustainable approach to hospitality, but above all the great opportunity to enhance and sublimate with his recipes the green soul of the adult-only 5-stars resort.
The excellent and promising chef came back to his native island, after having travelled the world with two important stops in the kitchen of Alex Atala’s D.O.M. and Albert Adria’s Hoja Santa, without forgetting the experience at Il Devero with Enrico Bartolini, the most starred chef in Italy. He also had the pleasure of participating in events in collaboration with other chefs in Japan, Singapore, Dubai, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and various Italian cities.
His cuisine speaks about his origins: the simplicity of tastes and the genuineness of the products, incorporating elements and techniques he has learnt during his first-class experiences. He strongly believes in the island’s resources and aims to make the most out of them. For him cooking is instinct, and here at the resort he is stimulated by what nature offers every day. The best ideas come to the chef’s creative mind while he walks through the 400sqm of vegetable garden, completed by other three hectares of land located on the property: potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes and lemons – just to mention some produce – are transformed into multicoloured dishes, delighting the palates with a unique experience in the vegetable world.
Franchino looks after the in-house vegetable garden overlooking the sea, rich in apricots, plums, peaches, grapes, herbs that grow wild such as purslane and edible flowers. In the morning, he usually brings the chef a basket of fresh tomatoes, zucchini flowers, aubergines or any other harvest of the day. The success of a dish depends on the key role played by the ingredients with their strong taste, which must be recognizable, never spoilt by cooking techniques and, above all, must tell the story of the territory. Although the exotic suggestions in his cuisine are many, the chef restores the Mediterranean flavours of his native green island in heavenly proposals. He certainly knows that in the past Neapolitan cuisine was vegetarian six days a week. And therefore, vegetarianism only needs to be rediscovered, perhaps revised and proposed again in extraordinary combinations.
Il Mirto is open to anyone who wants to enjoy a lunch or dinner in a truly appealing and welcoming environment, composed of a bright dining room and a charming terrace. It offers two degustation menus, one vegan (Olos O Kipos) and one vegetarian (Hortus Deorum), both of 8 courses, inspired by the tradition reinterpretated in a modern vision and based on fresh ingredients with simple cooking techniques. Alternative menus of 4 or 6 courses are also available, always with separated wine pairing. Choices that do not leave guests weighed down, but satisfied and not at all hungry, as some people might mistakenly think when they face a vegetable offering.
The idea of a vegetarian restaurant on the island of Ischia, which emphasizes raw materials and seasonal garden produce, is greatly innovative. The search for quality, the attention to detail, from the preparation of the ingredients to the presentation of the single courses is evident: the skilful hand of the chef, the attentive and professional service, the elegant setting in beautiful, well-kept gardens with a peaceful atmosphere and the elegance of the ambience all make the difference. Il Mirto represents an experience to be lived slowly, appreciating beauty that goes hand in hand with taste until the last bite.
Photo credit: Botania Relais & Spa
As a professional English, German and French to Italian translator and interpreter certified by ANITI, DVÜD and SFT and with over 16 years of experience, Ileana Cari helps premium businesses create exclusive experiences for their target clients through a localized, unique, finely-tuned message. Her translations are a bridge between two cultures, aiming to communicate the value of a brand with the right inspiring words and therefore contribute to its success. She is specialized in luxury market segments, like beauty, fashion, hospitality and wellness.