an Italian restaurant like no other in Toulouse

In the kitchen of the new Italian restaurant Mantesino, which opened its doors more than a month ago in the center of Toulouse, Francesco Formica revisits the Neapolitan specialties that rocked his childhood.

The Italian restaurant Mantesino opened in Toulouse on June 20 © Mantesino

No pizza or classic pasta carbonara, the new restaurant Mantesinoopened since June 20 in the Saint-Aubin district of Toulouse, stands out from the many Italian brands present in the city.

Its leader and founder, Francesco Formica, wishes highlight “all the diversity of Italian cuisine”. For this, he draws inspiration from the traditional dishes of the region of Naples, his birthplace, which his parents left when he was two years old to settle in the Pink City. Even the name of the restaurant echoes its origins, “Mantesino” meaning “apron” in Neapolitan.

The Mantesino menu changes every week

The Mantesino map is not fixed. Francesco Formica renews it every week. On the menu: two starters, two main courses and two desserts for lunch, plus an additional choice on Thursdays and Fridays, for evening services. “I decided to limit the offer because we are a small sign of 28 covers, I am alone in the kitchen and only have one person serving”, explains the chef.

At noon this week, for example, the latter offers zucchini and ricotta balls (polpette) accompanied by a parmesan and mint cream, or even a bruschetta served with mozzarella and Parma ham, as an antipasto. In flat, linguine with octopus and Sicilian capers or fusilli with oyster mushroomsgarnished with caramelized onions and Piedmont hazelnuts.

To finish on a sweet note, the choice can be a ricotta cake or pannacotta with red fruits. “Customers like to try new recipes. They appreciate that my cuisine is different from what we are used to seeing in all Italian restaurants,” underlines Francesco Formica.

Mantesino italian restaurant Toulouse
Linguine with sea bream, confit garlic, lemon and baby spinach proposed two weeks ago on the menu of the Italian restaurant Mantesino © Mantesino

Local and seasonal products

If the menu changes every week, it’s also because the chef works only with seasonal products. He obtains “as much as possible” from local breeders and producers. “The meat comes from the Basque Country or Aveyron. I buy it from the butcher who is located 50 meters from the restaurant”, maintains Francesco Formica. He also obtains fish from the Criées Occitanes, a supplier present at the Toulouse MIN, whose products come from the Mediterranean. “Fruits and vegetables, too, come from the South West of France,” he adds.

For the rest, the chef brings in products from Italy. Like the mozzarella, Parma ham or the fresh pasta he uses to concoct his dishes.

“With a kitchen like that, you can open your restaurant”

With the opening of Mantesino, Francesco Formica takes his first steps in the world of restoration. Until the end of 2021, he was an engineer, “more for financial comfort than passion”, he admits. Because what he really likes is cooking. “I had been hesitating to get started for four years, then a friend encouraged me to sign up for the Objectif Top Chef program, broadcast on M6,” he says.

After getting the entry ticket to the contest of the hand of chef Philippe Etchebestthe Toulousain won the tests against other amateur cooks, until that of the weekly final, where he was eliminated.

However, during the filming of the show, the starred chef highly complimented his plates, going so far as to point out to him “that with a kitchen like that, I could open my restaurant”, recalls Francesco Formica. “I used to have people close to me encourage me to open my business, but here the advice came from a professional chef. Then I saw that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and create original dishes. It gave me the confidence I lacked to create Mantesino,” he concludes.

Practical information: Mantesino, 8 rue Maury, Toulouse.
Open for lunch from Monday to Friday, then in the evening on Thursdays and Fridays. Reservations on 05 31 54 13 29.

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