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Flavour Profile: Antonio Cozzolino, head chef of Banca di Roma, opening in Glasgow this March

This Italian shares his love of chocolate, tomatoes and South American food

Published: February 20, 2023

What’s your favourite ingredient?

It will come as no shock that I’m going for olive oil. It is a really versatile ingredient that can be used for everything from appetisers to desserts. Although for me the best way to enjoy it is drizzled on some fresh bread.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

I love anything sweet, especially chocolate. I can never say no.

Tell us about your first food memory?

Tomatoes. My parents have a farm where they grow them. I remember that every Sunday when my brothers and I got up, there was a Neapolitan ragu cooking on the stove and the smell of tomato sauce filled the room. Also in the summer, our snack was bread with freshly picked tomatoes, simple but delicious.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli, or cafe?

Unfortunately, at the moment I haven’t had the opportunity to eat in many Scottish restaurants as I have been busy preparing for the opening of Banca di Roma. I plan to visit as many as I can once we are up and running. I do like Doppio Malto in Glasgow for its playful atmosphere, craft beer and fresh pasta.

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What would be your last supper?

A huge plate of pasta. It may be a cliché but I can never have enough pasta, especially if you make it fresh at home.

Starter or pudding?

Like I said, I absolutely love dessert so pudding every time.

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Do you have any food hates?

I don’t have a particular ingredient in mind, though I am not a fan of chewy textures.

What starters, main, and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

I would start with a classic Italian appetiser that would consist of a selection of cold cuts, carpaccio, cheeses, and mixed fried food. I’m from the Campania region of Italy, where sharing food is a must, so I would want my guests to get involved. Then I would serve a range of barbecued seafood like molluscs and shellfish. I grew up by the sea and, when it comes to absolutely fresh seafood, Scotland has it in abundance. I would finish with a lemon dessert (delizie al limone) to clean the palate.

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I’d invite my family for sure, as well as chef Francesco Mazzei to whom I owe my professional growth. I would also invite the Italian chef Niko Romito, as I think he would be very interesting. I like the way he captures the essence of the ingredients and bringing them to their full potential.

What’s your favourite geographical foodie destination?

I’d like to discover more about South American cuisine, as it’s simple, essential but very colourful. It represents different layers of culinary traditions but in a unique and lively way. It is also rich in aromas, spices, and uses a range of top class techniques, I would love to learn more.

31 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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