Once upon a time, there was a prince at the wheel of a colorful pasta food truck. Alongside him, there was a chef who operated a pasta machine, that cranked out delicious golden noodle in the most amazing shapes…
This is not the incipit of a fairytale, set in an undefined geographical place and a remote past, but rather a true fact that is currently happening across the streets of Los Angeles.
The fairytale ingredients are all present, including a quote – displayed on the food truck’s side - from the dreamlike master of Italian cinema par excellence, Federico Fellini: “Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta.”
Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy – longstanding Italian TV personality with royal blood - has recently ventured to put in motion the first Italian gourmet food truck that blends the elements of colorful street art with the freshness of handmade pasta. His brainchild - that is named after his regal title, “Prince of Venice” – is rapidly sweeping across the streets of L.A.
Alongside him, Emanuele has a first-class talent, Milan-born Chef Mirko Paderno, who cut his teeth in the L.A. food scene as Executive Chef of Primi Italian restaurant, first, and Co-Executive of Valentino, then (under the same ownership of legendary restaurateur, Piero Selvaggio).
I wonder if Fellini - whose father, Urbano, apprenticed as baker at the historical Pantanella pasta factory in Rome – at the sight of this mobile kitchen with the vibe of a time that is long gone, would have embarked on another nostalgic Amarcord.
Another of the maestro’s masterpieces, La Strada, sparks me the idea: what if - alongside portions of delicious, smoking-hot pasta cranked out from “Prince of Venice” – street performers would entertain the audience with a series of astonishing feats?
Perhaps, that’s a step too far. The undisputed quality and freshness of the food, its well-finished presentation, as well as its affordability, shall do the job of drawing a crowd of hungry customers.
At the inauguration on July 6, I had the chance to talk with the prince and the chef, as well as tasting some of their delicious pasta dishes.
If you want to have a taste of “La Dolce Vita”, follow the L.A. itinerary and calendar of the “Prince of Venice” food truck on its official website: www.princeofvenicefoodtruck.com, or through its social media.
Here is the initial remark by our Consul General of Italy, Antonio Verde, who also attended to the inauguration:
“Bringing premium Italian kitchen across the streets of L.A. is certainly a very commendable initiative, which combines tradition, taste and dynamism (none other than our country’s distinctive traits).
The Prince of Venice, by offering a well-refined selection of authentic food products, acts as a bearer of positive values, in which the Italian character really stands out, and through which the same distinctive mark may become even more recognizable.
I wish total success to this brand-new endeavor that makes our ‘Made in Italy’ roar by the streets of Los Angeles.”
Well said, Consul! L’Italo-Americano endorses the best wishes to this initiative.
And now, here is the brief exchange I had with Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy.
How did you come up with the concept of the “Prince of Venice” gourmet food truck?
Six months ago, I was invited to a big event here in Los Angeles. I was struck by the variety of food trucks around the city. They are perfect examples of street art “on four wheels.”
I realized that there were no Italian “pasta trucks.” Of course, one of the obvious reasons is that pasta takes at least ten minutes to cook. You can’t really grab a plate of spaghetti on the go.
Or can you? I’ve decided to make fresh pasta on board, through a pasta machine. All our products are organic and the ones, that are not imported from Italy, come from farms in the greater Los Angeles area.
I designed the interior and exterior of my truck, with the aim of offering the equivalent of a three star restaurant “on wheels.”
I’m very happy to keep promoting Italy, as I’ve been doing throughout my life. In this case, one of Italy’s most prestigious assets, its food specialties.
My concern was also to offer premium food at an affordable price range. Just to give you an example, I’m going to serve a portion of black truffle fettuccine, that would cost you thirty dollars in an Italian restaurant, for 16 USD.
Tell us more about the “Bureau Veritas Certifi-cation,” which you grant to premium Italian products all over the world.
The label “Made in Italy” has been losing its distinctive value. It’s not synonym with “excellence” any longer, because the necessary requirements in order to get that certification are not strict enough.
My brand, “Certificazione Eccellenza”, guarantees that at least 60 % of each industrial/design product has to be made in Italy. Whereas, 100 % of the food must be produced in Italy, in order to obtain the certification.
My main aim is to safeguard and endorse Italian companies, which work hard to keep their business in Italy.
You’re also very active in the charity sector. Please, elaborate on that.
We have two charities. One of them is a cultural foundation, “Fondazione Principe di Venezia,” to support the artists, also through a program of international cooperation.
The second one, “Ordini Dinastici di Casa Savoia,” helps people in need throughout our country, but also in the US.
In fact, its North American branch, “American Foundation of Savoy Orders,” provides grants to health centers and hospitals worldwide, gives financial aid to charities that support homeless children (one for all, Boys’ Towns of Italy, Inc.), as well as offering scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in the Humanities and Fine Arts, or International Studies.
And here is the culinary comment from Chef Mirko Paderno.
Are you carrying along your specialties (“Modern Italian food with regional touches”) to the Prince of Venice food truck?
The idea behind the food truck is to offer authentic and traditional Italian food. I don’t want to call it “regional,” cause there is no preference of an Italian region over the other.
Our is an actual restaurant “on wheels,” which drives around the high-end areas of L.A., following a changing schedule on a weekly basis.
We offer a real Italian culinary tour, with specialties ranging from Northern Italy, like pasta with pesto sauce, as well as from Central Italy, such as Spaghetti Carbonara and Conchiglie Amatriciana, and from the South, as with our Spaghetti Melanzane (aka “alla Norma,” from Sicily).
Our big asset is the freshness of our products. Some of them, such as flour, olive oil, truffle are imported from Italy, while the veggies are locally farmed in L.A.’s surroundings.
We haven’t overlooked anything. Even the smallest details, like the presentation of the food and the elaborated packaging, are carefully looked after.