Antonello Colonna Chef
The Roman countryside as a precious grammar with which to invent newer and newer syntaxes. An original language, but inspired by tradition. A cuisine of harmony and earth, of geometry and the modern world.
Antonello Colonna: “anarchist in the kitchen”
Cook, entrepreneur, collector, restaurateur, hotelier, philosopher, poet, inventor, revolutionary, “anarchist in the kitchen”—those are only a few of the epithets used by journalists, food critics, friends, or simply aficionados of the Chef’s cuisine. The truth is that Antonello Colonna, starred chef of international fame, resists all attempts to classify him. Rigid labels, boundaries, and rules were not made for Colonna. Ever since he installed the famous red door in Labico, he has always acted under the impulse of an anarchic will, an entropic force able to sweep away what existed before and seemed apparently already perfect. But what for others is perfect, for Antonello Colonna is perfectible. Only those who know a world very well can decide to raze and rebuild it.
Fanatic for art and architecture, Roman in spirit and in origin, he made his bond with his territory into his strength and the relationship with the client the basis of his hospitality. And the client is never just that, but always much more.
“Our cuisine takes pride in its country roots, in the wisdom of peasant cooking and the produce of market gardens and farmhouses, transformed as if by anarchic and revolutionary magic into simple gourmet luxury. Antonello Colonna creates a new original language for foodies based on the culinary traditions of the Roman countryside, inspired by ancient fruits of the earth, combined in a new geometric and modern balance”
The Red Door
The restaurant was founded in 1874 in Labico (pronounced La-BEE-co), a town not far from Rome. “Trattoria Andrea Colonna”, as it was called, was family-run, and from the very beginning it distinguished itself for the quality and abundance of its home-style cooking. It became a place for travellers to stop and stay, eat, and change horses for the last time before reaching Rome.
In 1985, the Chef took the reins of the family business and oversaw a gastronomic revolution that rapidly won over the most refined palates of the most exigent Roman gourmets. The bright red door he installed at the entrance soon became the emblem of the restaurant, which changed its name and much besides. At “Antonello Colonna”—the new name—a new regime was put in place. The policy was to preserve the traditional dishes and their flavours while “revisiting”, or adapting, them for the refined tastes and habits of our own day.
The recipe worked: the restaurant soon became one of the best in Italy, and the red door became the symbol of a traditional or home-style cooking that owed much of its success to the simplicity and rapidity of its preparation.
In 2007 Antonello Colonna accepted the invitation of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome to take his own restaurant and philosophy of hospitality to the space designed by the architect Paolo Desideri in the roof garden of the building.
Thus the red door came to enjoy one of the most splendid views in all of Rome, and the opening of Open Colonna marked the beginning of a major new adventure into which the Chef poured his boundless competitive passion and revolutionary vision of the concept of hospitality.
Open soon reached the top tier in more ways than one. It became Rome’s principal locus of culture and the best food and wine and the first example of a “maison gourmet” (to borrow a term from fashion) as well as the first contemporary event space in a setting dating to the late 1800s.
April 2012 – In the heart of the Roman hills, immersed in the natural park of Labico, the Antonello Colonna Resort & Spa opened its doors. Twelve exclusive rooms with garden, vegetable garden, chef-patron Colonna’s gourmet restaurant, thermal pool, and wellness centre. The Valle Fredda estate is an event space and temporary gallery, but also a working farm, with animals and cheese-making.
May 2015 – The stylized red door became an essential component of the new Colonna brand and symbol of a world in continuous evolution, in whose origins, art, culture, good food, experimentation, and hospitality mingle.