As part of the “Our Italians” series, today we meet Massimiliano Bertino and Nino Greco, owners of Agorà Enoteca-Trattora. Agorà is located in a unique space in the town of Randazzo on the northern foot of Mount Etna. We’ve shared meals and wine with friends, clients and colleagues at Agorà and had the opportunity to speak to Massimiliano and Nino about their venture.
Casa Mia: Where did the idea for Agorà come from? How did you select the name and when did it open?
Massimiliano & Nino: The idea of Enoteca Agorà came about out of the blue almost as a joke, after a night out with friends (and 3 vodka tonics!!!). We opened on December 24, 2014. The name Agorà is the broad concept of the ancient Greek square in cities like Athens. The name is also connected to the history of the building which was built during the Middle Ages in what was the Greek quarter. We wanted to connect ourselves to the larger sense of the term as a place to come together for an exchange of ideas and culture.
CM: Who are the founders of Agorà?
M&N: There are two partners, me and Nino, and our chef, Giuseppe, who up until the restaurant opening had never worked in the restaurant business
CM: Could you describe your philosophy as it pertains to the dishes prepared and the restaurant itself?
M&N: Our philosophy is simple: TERRITORY, RANDAZZO TRADITIONS and SEASONALITY. These key concepts have been interpreted via the eyes of 3 young people.
CM: Which dishes would you recommend to a first time visitor?
M&N: The most traditional dish is the pork shank made from the Nebrodi black pig, a Slow Food Presidia breed but working with with seasonal produce especially from the vegetable gardens, I’d recommend a mixed appetizer plate. It changes weekly if not daily representing exactly who we are and what we do.
CM: Food without wine wouldn’t be complete in Sicily. How did you compose your wine list?
M&N: Creating our wine list was simple. We are in an area where wine is history. We are fortunate to have more than 100 vineyards on Mount Etna. So, we return to the same philosophy behind our dishes, territory and tradition. Today our wine list has more than 100 different wines from Etna from the most important and representative producers to the small and experimental wine makers. For craft beer drinkers we have a growing selection available.
CM: Not only are the food and wine selection spectacular but the location is unique. Will you tell us about the history of the tunnel?
M&N: The building is medieval dating back to the year 1300. At that time there was a tavern here as Randazzo was in a strategic location for passersby. There were droves of travelers. In what is the loggia – referred to by many as “the tunnel”, horses would rest overnight while inside the building there was an area that tended to the horses and to horse drawn carts. There was another area on the second floor where one could eat and get a good night’s sleep before continuing their journey the following day.
CM: Is there anything else that you’d like our readers to know about Agorà?
M&N: The foundation of our approach to hospitality and how we run Agorà was and still is: to create a place that we’d love to go to with our friends, wives and children.
Agorà is open everyday except Wednesday from 11:30am to 3:30pm and then from 7:30pm to 11:00pm.
For more information visit their Facebook page.
All photos by Sofie Delauw Photography except opening image.