Massimo Morandi e Riccardo Cappelli
You add the colours
Massimo and Riccardo created the Cartabianca restaurants. For them, always focusing on the customer is not just a saying, but a true corporate philosophy: it is the customer who has the paper, the palette and the imagination.
A colourful story written on a sheet of white paper. Or rather, a carte blanche. Riccardo, the chef, and Massimo, the real estate agent. “Riccardo and I met through my work,” Massimo explains, “I sold him the house where he now lives in Campi Bisenzio.” A fortunate and dazzling encounter that awakened dreams, ideas and projects. “My idea was to diversify the investments that came from real estate while he wanted to test himself with a new adventure.” And so today the two successfully run six restaurants in Tuscany: Calenzano, Novoli in front of the courthouse, via Panciatichi in Firenze Nova, Prato in via Valentini, Osmannoro, and the intimate restaurant in San Mauro a Signa inside the Misericordia.
Riccardo was a chef from the ‘90s to the early 2000s. “In 2001, I was focused on pastries, managing two shops in Florence’s historic centre. It was an experience that increased my understanding of the business world. But I never lost the urge to wear my apron. I first met Massimo when I was out of work and I immediately understood that it would be a great opportunity.”
Where does the name Cartabianca (Carte Blanche) come from? “In our opinion,” Riccardo says, “certain expressions work very well because they immediately stick in your mind. In addition to that, we wanted a name that would suggest content. The customer is at the centre and white is the perfect background for any colour you want. You have carte blanche in your requests. Hence the baptism and naming of the premises, which has translated into a completely recognisable style.”
“At that point we needed a partner, a professional who would design a suitable concept and would translate our dreams into reality by creating, in addition to premises that were extremely functional, also premises that would transmit important feelings to our future customers. We looked around to assess the most important national companies in the sector, including design studios. After several interviews and visits, we focused on Aba Arredamenti, an historical company with an infinite number of high-level references in our region. It was a choice dictated primarily by their innovative and fascinating project, which was followed by a concept personally designed by Massimo Giaccherini, with whom we have established a wonderful rapport for an all-inclusive collaboration. We were then won over by the extremely high-quality Aba production, with the customisation of all the furnishings, including the refrigeration, which are very important elements for the optimisation of work and employees in all our restaurants – an approach to production that is absolutely uncommon to the other companies we visited.”
Massimo explains that for the past 7 years, since the first restaurant was opened, a formula has been created that, from the ingredients to the hiring of staff, tries to respect a very specific idea of being a restaurant. Sfogliatelle, cakes, mignons, shortbreads, sandwiches, salads, and first courses. All of these products, made by hand, have the same importance and care at Cartabianca. The cuisine respects the tradition and culture of food, while combining them with the contemporary. The day begins with breakfast, an essential moment to have the right energy. It continues with lunch that can be quick or more formal and then ends with the inevitable ritual of the aperitif, the best way to treat yourself to a pleasant and relaxing break. Winning formulas with tangible results. “We have received, from the Italian Republic, a certificate as best pastry shop with an innovative approach. And Massimo Giaccherini of Aba provided a decisive contribution to that.”
“Cartabianca (Carte Blanche)? In our opinion certain expressions work very well because they immediately stick in your mind."
“We started looking around in 2005,” Riccardo recalls, “when we began the project. I used to go around to visit many Florentine locales and when I asked who had furnished the rooms which were models for me, the name Aba always came out. So, in the first locale in Calenzano, in the demanding faculty of fashion and design, we availed ourselves of their help for the first time. It wasn’t a simple challenge but they managed to make the most of our start-up.”
“The request was for a place that could amaze,” explains Massimo without turning around much. “It was a place inside a university design centre. Massimo Giaccherini immediately understood our expectations. One morning by a professor made us smile by commenting that a splendid spaceship had landed inside the university. And even now, despite the fact that 7 years have passed, the restaurant still has modern and up-to-date lines.”
The choice was for white, linear, elegant windows to bring out the food. “We have literally framed the food,” says Riccardo. “We don’t have one reference product. But we presume to have all of them! We love the simplicity of ancient flavours that we adapt to changes. The challenge is to give customers “carte blanche,” to understand their tastes and needs and to try to satisfy them. With passion and respect.”
› Cartabianca 1 | Calenzano (FI)
› Cartabianca 2 | Firenze
› Cartabianca 3 | Firenze
› Cartabianca 4 | Prato
› Cartabianca 5 | Osmannoro (FI)
› Cartabianca 6 | San Mauro a Signa (FI)