A universal fable with a Portuguese soul

on Sep 1, 2012 in Automatic Pilot | No Comments

In 2010, on an impulse, four friends joined forces and decided to open a restaurant in a unique place. Two years later, Pedro e o Lobo (Peter and the Wolf) is one of the most interesting restaurants in Lisbon.

Diogo Noronha had only begun his internship at Thomas Keller’s famous New York restaurant Per Se half an hour earlier, and the first exchange with one of the chefs were terse words: “Move it!” Kitchen life in restaurants is not for the faint-hearted and, in New York, where he had recently finished his professional training, even more so. But like the Americans says, “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”, and Diogo survived, completing this stage of his apprenticeship in cooking (and in life). In fact, the only reason he didn’t stay was because of his work visa. After his internship, he moved to Barcelona with a list of restaurants where he wanted to work. He ended up at Moo, the restaurant of Hotel Omm. It was in this place, which was run by the Roca brothers, he met Nuno Bergonse, who had made his way to the Catalan capital after working in top restaurants in Lisbon. They worked together for a while and became friends. One New Year’s Eve in Barcelona, Luís and Patrícia Baptista, who were friends of Nuno’s, outlined an idea that they had been mulling over: opening a restaurant in Lisbon. Nuno spoke to Diogo, then they went looking for the right location. Actually, none of the four had any real experience in this area. Patrícia was a lawyer and Luís an architect. As for Bergonse and Noronha, despite having worked in various roles in the kitchen, they had never been chefs and even less partners in a business.

This story has no happy ending, because the adventure has only just begun, but two years later, Pedro e o Lobo (the name of the restaurant) is one of the most interesting eateries in the Portuguese capital. It is refined, but not formal; fashionable, but no fashion victim; it’s fine dining, but accessible. Bergonse and Noronha’s creations fit perfectly and, above all, they have real personality: they combine classic techniques with other more modern ones and they’re not afraid to take risks. Their previous experience abroad is patent in what they do, however, they add Portuguese identity, both in what they create and in their use of Portuguese produce, both the expensive and humble, but always top-quality. There is fish from the Azores, like parrotfish, black-bellied rosefish, and big-eyed tuna, Iberian pork (“porco preto”) from the Alentejo and organic vegetables from Quinta do Poial. “Attitude, the desire to take risks and persevere”, seems to be the recipe of this project, in the words of Diogo Noronha. All we need to do is to sit at the table and enjoy what’s served up.


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