It is among the streets of the center of one of the oldest cities in Europe, cosmopolitan and chameleon-like, capable of keeping up with the times although wrapped in its decadent and bohemian atmosphere, that Alessandro Borghese elects the best Italian restaurant in the center of Lisbon (THE SPECIAL). Obtaining the coveted title is the Really in the Amoreiras neighborhood of the city. The venue, equipped with a romantic outdoor terrace and a classy internal room, is the kingdom of Isaac, Executive Chef of the restaurant, here’s what the winner told us about his experience on TV.
the interview with the winner
What does it feel like to be the best restaurant in the center of Lisbon?
Being recognized here as the best Italian restaurant is an honor, testifying to the excellence of our commitment to bringing authentic Italian cuisine beyond national borders.
The poet Pessoa said that “there are no flowers capable of comparing with the variety of colors that Lisbon takes on in the sunlight”: in what way is Lisbon unrivaled for you?
Lisbon for me is unsurpassed in its ability to capture the vibrant beauty of colors under the sunlight, an experience that transforms every corner of the city into a living tableau. Its unique combination of landscapes, architecture, multi-ethnic culture and youthful energy makes it an unrivaled place.
Of Ghanaian origin and Venetian by adoption, how did you decide to take the reins of Really and stop in Portugal?
My decision was motivated by a passion for travel, a love for gastronomy and the desire to create a unique culinary experience in such a welcoming and cosmopolitan context as Lisbon. I found in this context a perfect setting to combine the richness of my roots with the openness and diversity of Lisbon.
What do you miss about Italy?
I miss the Sunday dinners with the family in Italy, the warmth and sharing around a table, the laughter. The stories that accompany the dishes always create special and unique moments. I also miss my city, Castelfranco Veneto and that morning flavor of the croissant accompanied by orange juice.
The most popular dish among customers?
Creamed cod on a base of crunchy black polenta and cacio e pepe are the two most requested dishes by our customers. The former best embodies the meeting between the tradition of my Venetian region and the influence of the Portuguese culture linked to cod: a unique culinary fusion and reflects the diversity and harmony of the gastronomic influences between the two cultures. In the cacio e pepe, the combination of excellent ingredients, such as spaghettoni from Gragnano and pecorino romano, together with the touch of black pepper, expresses the beauty and excellence of a cuisine that celebrates authentic flavors in a refined and frills. Both dishes represent the luxury in the simplicity of Italian cuisine and embody the philosophy of our restaurant Truly.
Your childhood dish?
Pasta with tuna represents my childhood dish, prepared by my parents when I came home from school.
What have you learned (not just in the kitchen) while traveling around the world?
By traveling I have cultivated a profound humility in the face of cultural diversity, learning to adapt flexibly and integrate into new contexts. This experience enriched my personal background and taught me the importance of open-mindedness and respect in intercultural interactions.
Who would you like to have as an illustrious guest in your venue?
Denzel Washington, I was inspired by him as a role model. His integrity, professionalism and talent are a source of great inspiration, and it would be a privilege to share the culinary experience of our restaurant with him.
What menu would you dedicate to him?
Spaghetti with tomato sauce with a piece of bread on the side to make the Italian-style slipper, followed by a tiramisu from my homeland, Treviso as homage to Italian cuisine.
I would like to open a cooking academy in Ghana to stimulate and help the country’s young talents, offering them the skills necessary to become excellent chefs. I wish to convey not only the love for the culinary art, but also the respect and valorization of local products. I believe this can contribute not only to the individual growth of aspiring chefs, but also to the enrichment of gastronomic culture in the community. With passion and dedication, I hope to inspire a new generation of talented chefs and beyond from Ghana.