Imagine if you lived half your life doing the thing you loved more than anything in the world and you are barely 30 years old. Well that’s the story of famed mixologist, Matteo Pizzolini, owner of Antico Caffe Torinese in Trieste, Italy.
Matteo, great to talk to you how long have you owned Antico Caffe?
It’s been 5 years now.
And how old are you, because you look pretty young?
Just 32 years old.
Wow. Ok, let’s go back to your teenage years then where it began.
I was 16 years old when I started working in a small café on the beach. After a lot of other bars and restaurants I did a four-year stint at the famed 5-star hotel in Venice Hotel Cipriani
Tell me what you learned from your experience at the Hotel Cipriani
I really learned about cocktails, but more than that, I learned about service and maintaining the highest standards. It was the most important experience that allowed me to get where I am today. I owe so much of my career to Walter Bolzonella, who was the head bartender at the Hotel Cipriani
Was it always a dream to own your own bar?
From the beginning It was the dream come true. Something that is yours where you can create your own standards of excellence.
Your bar has a pretty famous history, right?
Yes, it is just over 100 years old. It originally started as a pharmacy in 1921 and then grew to become a famous bar. Even during WWII, the bar never closed.
How difficult was it to open your bar?
It was an incredible challenge. It was difficult to obtain financing from banks. The prior owner was arrested so the reputation of the bar had suffered. It took me a good year to restore the reputation of the bar to its old one and after that first year, I could begin to make other improvements throughout. For example, I began opening it later until midnight and until 1 or 2 on the weekends and now it is the best bar in Trieste.
Do you have any desire to open another bar?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but it is very difficult to manage my bar, which is open all day and do not want to stretch myself at the expense of the quality I have established.
How do you engage with your customers?
Well, it has to be an experience for each guest and that means you have to talk with the guest and see what they want to drink and experience. I hope that when every customer comes into my bar, they see a warm, inviting bar, with music in the background that makes you want to have a drink and then a second.
Do you have a favorite liquor you enjoy using?
I like to use Gin in a lot of my cocktails, but I like to use everything, including some local liqueurs that you can find here. But I do not like to make cocktails with too many ingredients. I want a cocktail simple but elevated.
Ok, my favorite question, what are you making for me?
Well first we have a conversation about what you like of course, but for Nick’s cocktail let’s do a quality vodka with a local liqueur from Trieste, a simple syrup and turmeric, shaken.
Well, you had me at vodka. Ok, any final words
I really love to help younger bartenders grow, to teach them and explain the importance of service.
Everyone take a trip to Trieste right now and visit the Antico Torre Torinese and watch a rising star in the world of mixology.