3-Michelin-Starred Reale Reopens with a New Vegetable-Focused Menu

28 Mar 2022
4 min read

Led by acclaimed chef Niko Romito, 3-Michelin-starred Reale at Casadonna in the province of L’Aquila reopened its doors last week, and with it, unveiled a new tasting menu focused on vegetables. A culmination of the chef’s journey into his research on the vegetable world, these dishes will be on offer throughout the spring season, flanked by an à la carte menu made of great classics and never-before-seen dishes.

The choice to reopen Reale with a tasting menu dedicated to vegetables comes as the result of a creative process born 20 years ago. Through continuous research and experimentation, Niko Romito has now been able to successfully satiate his desire to ennoble simple, natural ingredients through creativity and intuition.

“This year more than ever, I realized that vegetable dishes are those in which our creativity is expressed in a way that is as powerful as absolutely spontaneous, and this is the origin of the new vegetable proposal; a table of colours, tastes and flavours, which have gustatory hues that other ingredients lack. The keystone is preparation, because the creative process that guides the transformation of the ingredient, enhancing its gustatory strength, preserving its intrinsic purity and intervening on the structure and its nuances, paradoxically becomes more important than the ingredient itself. The creative exercise is stimulated by the obligation that the raw material itself imposes to follow rules, to submit to constraints which, in vegetables, are very rigid but if respected and interpreted, can lead to another dimension,” says Niko Romito.

A well-prepared dish is a dish that satisfies those who eat it, and a carrot or a cauliflower can, too, embody the same dignity of a great meat or fish course. Reale’s new tasting menu highlights this idea and has been conceived from a deep dive into the plant-based world. All in all, these dishes aim to give back the complexity and completeness that the humble vegetable deserves but that is not always perceived, especially in common belief.

Gastronomic literature itself has never really acknowledged vegetables as tasty or gourmet foods, but rather underlined their role in a healthy and balanced diet. The team at Reale believes that honouring the cultural heritage of natural ingredients is long overdue in modern society and that those who have the knowledge and know-how, should educate others to overcome the preconceived notion that vegetables are secondary to meat.

Today more than ever, the responsibility of a chef is to guide and not just surprise, thus opening a window onto a new horizon, speaking a language that respects the needs of a world that is changing and leaving an important message, especially to a younger public that is challenged to face the changes that all of us are already experiencing. This is precisely what Romito hopes to achieve with his new menu, as outlined below:


Green peas ice cream
Red onions, Vermouth and pink pepper
Broccoli leaf and anise
Celeriac, hazelnut and cardamom
Roasted Savoy Cabbage
Fresh ravioli filled with almond in a spicy mushroom infusion
Beans and Swiss chard
Linguine with red peppers
Roasted endive with potatoes and rosemary
Radicchio and peanuts
Gratinée cauliflower



Trout, bay leaves and almond
Eel, lemon, roasted garlic and chilli pepper
Roasted squid, pink grapefruit and black olives
Grilled lamb ribs and potatoes
Chicken salad and lettuce
Onion reduction, parmigiano buttons and toasted saffron
Sheep ricotta cheese ravioli and water
Fettuccelle with red prawns and pink pepper
Fusilli with chicken, rosemary, and green pepper powder
Pigeon and pistachio
Smoked beef tenderloin and potatoes
Cold duck and smoked duck water
Sea bass, lettuce and capers
Licorice granita, white vinegar and white chocolate
Meringue, raspberry and caramel


Niko Romito has been managing restaurant Reale since 2000 with Cristiana, who has provided a solid fraternal and entrepreneurial understanding that has marked every important partnership to date. A self-taught cook, deeply linked to his Abruzzo, Niko has achieved great success in the last decades – most notably, he won 3 Michelin stars for Reale in 2013, which he has maintained since. The restaurant has also received 5 hats from the restaurant guide L ‘Espresso, 3 forks and the Best Restaurant in Italy award from Gambero Rosso and taken 29th place in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 list.

Reale’s journey began in Rivisondoli, in the former family pastry shop, which became a trattoria, and in 2011 he moved Reale to “Casadonna”, a former 16th-century monastery in Castel di Sangro which the duo recovered and repaired to its past and current glory. Through unceasing research and with a strong entrepreneurial approach, Romito follows the path of essentiality, balance and taste in his cuisine. In a short time, he was able to create an incisive and personal gastronomic language and a complex system in which haute cuisine, collective catering formats, higher education and products for domestic consumption coexist.

Over the years, he expanded his offerings across the globe, and today, the chef’s Niko Romito Group now consists of a handful of successful businesses including Reale*** restaurant in Castel di Sangro; Accademia Niko Romito, a professional cooking school based in Casadonna; SPAZIO NIKO ROMITO, a concept inaugurated in 2013, present today in Milan as SPAZIO Ristorante, in Rome in the bar and kitchen version and in Rivisondoli as a lab restaurant for the students of the academy; the LABORATORIO NIKO ROMITO, the headquarters of the research and development of new products and gastronomic projects for pastry and bakery; ALT Stazione del Gusto, a catering concept for travellers in Castel di Sangro, situated on Statale 17 and in Montesilvano inside a service station as well as a partnership with Bvlgari Hotel & Resorts, a collaboration that sees Niko Romito curate the offer of restaurants in Beijing (1 Michelin star), Shanghai (1 Michelin star), Dubai, Milan and Paris.