Davide Scabin: Innovative Italian Cuisine

Sublime simplicity takes a turn at fine Italian dining

Why would you go to a restaurant of the famed chef, Davide Scabin? First of all, here’s a man who thinks deeply about food, about tradition, about…eggs. In 2005 I ate in his restaurant Combal.Zero in Rivoli, outside of Turin, with members of the press before the winter Olympics. I saw him later at the citrus festival in Rodi Garganico. Each time I became more impressed with The Chef Who Thinks Deeply About Food And How We Partake of It. That’s him below, talking to us in his kitchen at Combal.Zero.

davide scabin 2005

Combal.zero in Rivoli closed in 2020. Today Davide’s ideas float around inside the Grand Hotel Sitea in Torino, at the Ristorante Carignano di Torino. There is one many-course meal served every evening at the restaurant, and if I can float a rather large loan I was thinking of seeing what Mr. Scabin is up to these days. But more after I give you the impression I had of Combal.Zero:

Imagine a restaurant in the wing of a 13th century medieval castle offering fine views of Turin and the valley below. Before you are implements you might expect to see in any fine restaurant: knife, fork, spoon, water and wine glasses, and some breadsticks stacked like cordwood. All signs point in the direction of a typical fine dining experience. But it only takes few courses at Combal.Zero to get disoriented.

Discard Your Preconceptions of Great Food All Who Enter Combal.Zero

Eventually you’ll be requested to discard those familiar eating implements in favor of an X-acto knife, a mallet, some colorful plastic spoons, or even your fingers. You’ll also want to discard any preconceived notion of Italian food while you’re at it; no long worms of pasta slathered in tomato sauce will speckle your white shirt as you attempt to twirl them. And, despite your mother’s admonitions, at Combal.Zero you are encouraged to play with your food. After all, chef Davide Scabin has. Known for his re-engineering of familiar foods to create new sensations, Mr Scabin’s first words to us after we’d finished our meal were, “Did you play well?”

The Food at Combal.Zero

Combal.Zero serves creative food firmly grounded in Piemontese tradition. The kitchen sends out playful, witty, and artfully re-engineered dishes of local origin. (“Zuppizza” is a liquid pizza reconstructed from the bottom up, featuring mozzarella soup supporting a dollop of tomato and miniature basil leaves, with a scatter of toasted bread chips floating over everything—served with beer, of course.)

Between each carefully-timed course a crescendo of foodie-babble rises in anticipation of the next. Attentive silences punctuate the performance to be sure—as occurs the moment you raise your mallet to crack open your “fossil” course in order to discover the savory mix of fish, black truffle and white beans embalmed inside the clay tomb that’s been set in front of you on a bed of fragrant wood chips.

fossil dish combal.zero
Fossil, a course on the Creative menu at Combal.Zero

Combal.Zero – It’s not just about messing with your food creatively

But food at Combal.Zero isn’t entirely about re-engineering the food itself. Foods you might have eaten 50 years ago at a small Piemontese hole-in-the-wall are reassembled into a “Piola kit.” Six traditional “courses” are packed into small glass jars fitted neatly into a cardboard box along with a vial of Barbera and a deck of playing cards, a “kit” for building remembrance of things past. How much more traditional can you get?

Piolakit, bringing back memories of the Piemonte piola.

Well, there is, of course, the primal, which comes in the form of the celebrated cyberegg. You’re instructed to pierce its double plastic wrap “shell” with your trusty xacto knife and squeeze the primal ooze into your mouth as soon as possible—or even quicker if you happen to value the tie you’re probably wearing. An explosion of surprising culinary magnitude then occurs inside your mouth, unannounced by any previous confirmations of smell, familiar form, or texture. Surprise—a dwindling sensation in the mind-numbing Information Age—comes in heaping doses at Combal.Zero.

cyberegg combal.zero
The famed cyberegg at Combal.zero

And those are just three of the 16 courses we were served.

At the end of the meal he revealed what was he thinking about at the time, and I scribbled into my notebook:

The next innovation of Davide Scabin? I put my euros on “shower food”. You know how when you need a shower, after perhaps jogging, and you’re hungry so you’re bound to reach for something simple and salty—a handful of chips perhaps? Then, when you’ve showered, you feel ready for something more formal, more complex and earthy? Well, that transformation is what Davide Scabin is thinking about at the moment. Which means…next time you go to Combal.zero, you might think about bringing a shower cap. Call first. You don’t want to be embarrassed.

Davide Scabin Currently

But let’s think about the current situation. What is Davide Scabin thinking about now? How is it presented?

Here’s the menu at Ristorante Carignano di Torino.

If you’re going to eat there, perhaps you should stay at the Grand Hotel Sitea.

More About the Chef and his famous egg

How much did you miss fine dining, after the more “easy” and informal experience with Scabin QB at Central Market? “Simple is the hardest thing to do, they are different lines, you can express yourself in a different way-this is the philosophy that will transfer to Carignano Pop coming from QB. Having dishes like pasta and potatoes on the menu but done well is the best, simplicity is the heritage of Italian taste and we risk losing it. You can’t draw a parallel between fine dining and Italian cuisine, because in the absolute poverty of what could be the raw material, there is the expression of an insane local technique: we are one of the few kitchens that can make masterpieces like pasta al pomodoro in 10 minutes,” Scabin explains. “The idea is to be able to take a seemingly obvious dish maybe to a different level-this is the philosophy that has always been part of me. If you think of the Cyber egg, there is nothing in it outside of a classicism, based on the ingredients that make it up.” — Il ritorno di Davide Scabin: è il nuovo chef del Ristorante Carignano a Torino

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Scabin and the genesis of the Cyber egg

Happy fine dining in Italy.

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Davide Scabin: Innovative Italian Cuisine originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Aug 06, 2023 © .

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