Posts from 2017-08-22

An Interview with Isola's General Manager, Mr. Marco Ferrante!

marco-ferrante

1.  If you had to choose, what would be your perfect Isola meal?

There will be so many choices but I certainly have my favorites!  My ideal appetizer would be either the Burrata or the Roasted Octopus.  Both are crazy good, but really belongs to 2 different worlds.  So, I would start my answer with only one perfect meal won’t be enough to satisfy my idea of “perfect”!

I’m a carb guy, so my favorite main would be 1 of 3 choices: the Spaghetti Isola with seafood in a garlic marinara sauce, a traditional Lasagna (just like my grandma used to make), or the Black Squid Ink Risotto which is a sauté of squid and shrimps.   People are afraid of the dark color but the taste is very delicate and pleases any seafood lover!

My favorite dessert is of course our Tiramisu.  Our chef incorporates Baileys in the mascarpone cream to give it an extra touch of richness.  The classics never disappoint me.  Or, if my dinner date is in the mood, we would share a Calzone alla Nutella, which is out crispy pizza crust filled generously with super rich Nutella and a scoop of vanilla gelato on the side.  It certainly deserves some belly-space to be left for it!   I have a saying: “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Nutella!”

 

2.     What is your favorite pizza?

Our pizza is so good… light, thin, and crispy. I have a serious problem with it…… I must have one every day!

I normally go for Carrettiera which has tuna and red onions, but I truly love each one of our pizzas.  The pizza roll with spicy salami and gorgonzola is amazing or I build my own with premium ham and Brie cheese.

I even discovered how important having a good “marinara” is for the flavor of the pizza!  Before discovering the outstanding quality of the “San Marzano” tomato sauce that we use at ISOLA, I never had pizza without cheese.  But, it’s delicious and simply served with tomato sauce, thinly sliced fresh garlic, basil and oregano.  It’s so light and delicious!

 

3.   Tell me your culinary journey from start to now..

Since I was a kid, I always wanted to be in the restaurant business.  It's the only thing that I always wanted to be...a chef!  I followed that dream, and pursues my 5 year study at the SAN PELLIGRINO Culinary Institute in Italy (right where they bottle the best sparkling water known worldwide!).  I worked for a few years in Italy at 5-star hotels, as well as 1 and 3 Michelin star restaurants; and then I decided that I wanted to travel abroad and see the world.

Destiny made me find a job opportunity that lasted 14 years and spanned over 3 of the very best Italian restaurants that St. Maarten has to offer; where beside providing these businesses with my knowledge and experience, I learned a lot of the management trade secrets.  I especially got to know the demands of the local and tourist clientele which is unique to St. Maarten.

Today I’m wrapping up all I’ve learned and I use it for Isola Ristorante and its guests to provide a truly Italian experience adapted to the St. Maarten market.

 

4.    Favorite pasta sauce?

Remember the classics that never disappoints?  Tomato and Basil, Bolognese, a simple garlic olive oil and hot pepper…I could mention at least 10 more depending on the mood, the rush, the occasion, or the company!

 

5.     What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

EVERYTHING!

Being a Chef before a restaurant manager tags you forever as an artist.  You can create a meal with what you have available and sometimes the results are impressively amazing.

Sometimes it’s not even about the ingredients, it’s the creation process that fulfills you.  My ingredients must be fresh and simple.  I believe in straightforward flavor and recipes with few elements to give the correct importance and balance to each one of them once it’s is presented.

I’m a strong believer that balance is the winner in the flavors, but also in the consistency of the meal.  You can serve me a pasta with the best sauce BUT if is not cooked properly, Al Dente, it’s simply ruined.

 

6.    What sets Isola apart from other restaurants?

Quality ingredients brought in independently, straight from the producers in Italy; ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes for our sauce, wines, cheeses, olive oils, cold cuts and the list goes on!

Fresh, locally caught fish and lobsters, and genuinely pleasant service provided by nice people that are there not only fulfilling your dining needs but making your experience amazing at every visit!

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