The interview of owner Gianluca Ponticorvo, who never stops working to achieve his goals
Taking on new challenges means never being satisfied with what you’ve achieved; it means pushing yourself as far as possible beyond your means, and thus having the opportunity to see your dreams and ambitions come true.
The story of Gianluca Ponticorvo, founder and proprietor of the restaurant “Il Boccone” in Anacapri, is a case in point. Ever since he was a young boy, Gianluca has been following in the footsteps of his uncle, a restaurateur, helping him in the service and management of his clientele; the many years of apprenticeship led him to open his own restaurant, together with a partner. But this was not a point of arrival for Gianluca, quite the contrary: in 2014 he decided to embark on a new adventure, following the famous advice of Mark Twain, who already in 1800 passionately encouraged his readers to open up to new experiences with these profound words: “Lift anchor, abandon safe harbors, catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Gianluca has not been afraid to sail uncharted seas, always taking with him on his travels the experiences he has accumulated and the valuable teachings of the people he has met along the way. That’s why we decided to listen to his story in this interview, which can be an inspiration for those who still today, despite the periods of uncertainty that we are experiencing, are not afraid to continue to get involved.
When and how was the adventure of “Il Boccone” born?
“The restaurant opened in 2014. For me it was like accepting a challenge, I wanted to turn over a new leaf, to feel new emotions and to reach other goals, and with “Il Boccone” I succeeded. Since the beginning we have tried to give a clear identity to the restaurant, offering fresh daily products, many of them at km 0, from a small family garden, as well as different cuts of meat, pasta and fresh local fish, and our excellent pizzas cooked in a wood oven. A place that, since the beginning, has sought the right balance between tradition, in products and preparation methods that have made the history of Mediterranean cuisine, and innovation, with an eye to new trends.
What is your personal story, and what is the path that brought you here?
“I started working very early in my uncle’s restaurant, alternating between school and work. For about 20 years I took care of a bit of everything, from the dining room to the management of the structure, always carving out some time to devote to the garden and the vineyard, with a deep love for nature handed down to me by my grandparents and my parents. At the same time I have had work experience abroad and in other structures of the island that have enriched my personal experience also linguistically speaking; in addition, emotional issues (my wife Romina is Italian-Argentinean) make me speak Spanish very well. After so many years, I managed to realize my dream of opening my own restaurant and the adventure of “Il Boccone” began.
What do you think are the strengths of your business today?
“The strengths of the menu are certainly the many 0 km products, always fresh daily. I don’t believe in offering customers frozen or deep-frozen food; I prefer to have a more limited offer but one that guarantees the certainty of fresh and genuine food. For this reason, the menu varies a lot according to the season, and the products also change from month to month.
Our main dishes are definitely the first courses, thanks to the homemade pasta, including ravioli and scialatielli. Pizza is also one of our strong points: for several years now it has been very appreciated by both islanders and tourists.
One of the most popular ones is Fantasia, with provola cheese, sausage, pistachios and grana cheese flakes, but also Mandorlata with yellow tomatoes, mozzarella, almond pesto and crispy bacon. The most classic pizzas are always successful, including our Caprile, with buffalo, fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Finally, in the summer, many choose the Mediterranea, with a provola, lemon and arugula base and grana cheese on the side”.
What staff do you use for the kitchen and service at “Il boccone”?
“My team is composed of people with great working experience, even international, as the Chef Salvatore Certo, very appreciated on the island and very capable in making the most of our products, and the Maitre Costanzo Spataro, always ready to welcome with kindness and professionalism our customers, who together with the other guys create a very close-knit team and always ready.”
Is your clientele mainly made up of islanders or tourists?
“Being a restaurant that remains open all year round, the percentage of local customers is certainly higher, but in recent years we have managed to have a deserved visibility with tourists, thanks to an important communication work done on our social networks. Moreover, we have many contacts with hotels and b&bs of the island that recommend our restaurant to their guests; finally, the many reviews left by our customers on the internet generate a positive word of mouth“.
What does your wine list offer?
“Our wine cellar is very appreciated by customers, both local and foreign. This is because, with our proposal that reaches more than 100 labels, we embrace all regions of Italy. From white wines to red wines, up to champagne and sparkling wine, what they all have in common is that they are good products to best accompany our dishes. The most popular ones are surely Italian wines, even coming from small realities”.
What awaits the restaurant’s customers in the upcoming summer?
“This beginning of 2022 has been quite positive compared to the previous year; we are already starting to see the first tourists as well. Talking between operators in the sector, a good summer is on the horizon and obviously we hope it will really be so.
Always paying attention to the regulations related to the containment of the pandemic in force at the moment, we will organize tasting evenings and concerts of small local bands, excellent opportunities to spend an evening of fun while eating good food”.
In conclusion, what does “Il boccone” represent for you and in what way do you think it can offer a meaningful culinary experience to those who will choose it?
“We are a family-owned restaurant and we take great care to pamper our customers from the moment they sit down at the table until they go home. This is an approach we follow indiscriminately with everyone, with tourists as well as local customers. Proposing local products, our intent is also to enhance the territory, rediscovering old flavors lost in time but at the same time creating innovative and trendy combinations. For example, we make liqueurs with local fruits, such as a delicious prickly pear liqueur with an original and surprising taste. And it is one of the many ways we have to offer those who choose us the security of eating genuine tasting the truest soul of our beautiful land.