It took us a year and a half, to get Accursio Restaurant up and running, with the patience and dedication with which it is sometimes preferable to take more time, just to be sure of getting things right. We were looking for a place that immediately seemed perfect to accommodate the atmospheric spaces we had already imagined, as well as their functional aspect: we wanted this place to be the House of Accursio, and so it was.
In the early days of 2013, when it became clear that the right time had come for this project to start taking real shape, our friendship turned into an undertaking to be carried out together, which from the outset was an exciting challenge, at times considerably more arduous than expected, but always full of motivation and meaning. It all started with the search for a place potentially suited to fully express the identity we wanted to give it: we were looking for a city centre location, first and foremost to maintain the link to a cuisine that continually evokes history and tradition, and we wanted it to lend itself to becoming a welcoming, intimate and full of breath casket for it.
It took months before we were able to lift the shutter on the lower level of this building on Via Grimaldi, which would soon become our frenetic construction site. It could not be said that it was love at first sight, but certainly the charm of this place, already so strongly integrated in the ancient fabric of the city and so alive in the imagination of its inhabitants, promised to lend itself well to what we began to imagine from the very first moment and, within a short time, to realise: freeing it from the superimpositions that over the decades had ended up caging and darkening its original beauty, opening it up to the light by opening up new spaces inside, making it converse with the good living room of the Contea (Count) that surrounds it on all sides. To give it soul, at last.
Through the marvellous invention of a path of furnishings and colours that together were able to tell a story without the need of words. In this incessant drive for research and also experimentation, we enjoyed realising how similar the work of the architect and that of the chef are, if the approach is in both cases exclusive, artisan: knowing the producers, selecting the best materials one by one, perfecting combinations capable of restoring balance and elegance. Leaving behind a dense negotiation on the distribution of space (for a chef the kitchen is always too small!) we began to make them come alive: between a comfortable and well-organised work area, an almost hidden service area, a small antechamber to make the welcome private and to progressively familiarise oneself with the place, and then a completely clean, unfurnished room, we built the guest's journey with a small but continuous surprise effect capable of recalling the succession of emotions that the city arouses.
A 'timid restoration', one might say, a harmonious transformation between past and present, which made this place definitively a House when we put our pieces and colours inside. We thus made the room like a sort of secret garden, with the walls free to the eye like soft horizons of the imagination, but the earth solid, fertile, reassuring and generous: we went halfway across Sicily, knocking on old junk dealers’ doors to make a flower meadow with a patchwork of cementine stone tiles, and in the centre we put our trees; chairs and tables in walnut wood. We designed the chairs by hand, entrusted them to the expertise of an independent craftsman and then tried them out for days, to make sure when welcoming those who would come to seek an experience of well-being and enjoyment they were impeccably comfortable and at the same time enveloping and warm, through contact with a vigorous wood. We made the seats as blue as the sea, as green as the countryside, as red as the poppies: a glimpse of colour, none of which conquers but together recapture the harmonious contrasts of nature. We wanted the tablecloths in linen, again in search of material contact. We chose the lamps because they recalled the fishermen's lamps hanging on the boats and swaying in the evening wind.
Between the entrance in the Grimaldi alleyway, for which we have chosen one by one the paving stones of Modica and the green of the 18th-century Sicilian gates, and the view of Corso Umberto, where we cultivate a small aromatic vegetable garden, we have built this dwelling for us and for you: here the gastronomic tale finds its broader weave, in a shared atmosphere of stories and suggestions.