Food & Drink

My Last Meal: Pasta party— Italy


Gianni Riotta, editor-in-chief of business newspaper ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’, would invite all his loved ones to a Sicilian feast for his ‘last meal’.

Gianni RIotta, Gigi Mangia

“Let me tell you about something that’s very important when you are going to have dinner in Sicily. In Sicily, there is no perfect food. At any family meal everybody is eating and everybody seems happy. When the dish is almost empty there is a moment of silence. And then somebody says ‘peró!’ – ‘but!’ – there was a little too much garlic and too little parsley and the bottarga was too salty and the pasta was overcooked. In any Sicilian meal, perfection is never reached.

My last meal would be with people that I love; my family and my friends. Since…


One of Italy’s most respected journalists, Gianni Riotta has worked for most of the country’s biggest newspapers over a long and distinguished career. For more than 20 years he was based in the United States and has also reported extensively from Iraq. A survey by Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines in 2007 named him one of the world’s top 100 intellectuals. Now 56, he is editor-in-chief of Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s leading business paper. He was born in Palermo, less than 100 yards from Gigi Mangia.


Gigi Mangia on Palermo’s pedestrianised Via Principe di Belmonte opened in 1989 and quickly became established as one of Sicily’s finest restaurants. Via Belmonte, 104d
+ 39 91 587 651


To eat: Fake cassata with swordfish and prawns; arancina filled with risotto and seafood; pasta alla bottarga; gelo di mellone

To drink: Glass of Grillo Tasca d’Almerita with lunch, glass of Perpetuo Guccione with dessert

A temple of gluttony

The Mangia family has been setting high standards for Sicilian cuisine for more than six decades. Gigi Mangia’s father, Rino, established a small delicatessen in Palermo in 1943.

While most other food shops in the city were offering a small selection of local salamis and cheeses, Mangia’s shelves were stacked with olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world, a selection of truffles and escargots, as well as the finest prosciutto and parmesan from Italy. “It was the best store for food in Palermo,” says Gianni Riotta, who recalls being allowed to go to Mangia only on special occasions. “My father would say, ‘if you want the fanciest of the fancy, go to Mangia’. It was a temple of gluttony.”

Mangia senior also cooked food for his customers, a tradition which his son continued when he opened his own restaurant in 1989 on Via Principe di Belmonte, just around the corner from the delicatessen that finally closed its doors in 2007 after the city dramatically increased the rent.

More Italian food and drink dynasties:

1: Bertani Founded by two brothers in 1857. Famous for its red Amarone wine

2: Graziano Cacciali One of only 12 family-run producers of Culatello ham

3: Villa Zottopera The groves where the Rosso family harvest the olives for their oil date back 2,000 years


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