Friday, 30 May 2014

5 Questions - Silvio Ursini, CEO of Obikà Mozzarella Bar & Ristorante

When Nicola and myself visited London at the tail end of last year we stayed at The Rathbone Hotel in Fitzrovia, just off Charlotte Street. I had travelled on the early train and had hoped to have the day to myself in London before meeting Nicola when she arrived later in the evening. We were travelling on different trains because Nicola was unable to take our travel day as annual leave. As it turned out, this was the worst day to travel last year as heavy storms across the north of England cause page disruptions, resulting on Nicola arriving into Euston Station over four hours later than originally scheduled. It's fair to say that I was at my wits end.
As I anxiously waited, wondering if she would actually make it all the way to London, I wandered up and down Charlotte Street in search of dinner. For those that don't know, Charlotte Street is packed with restaurants and bars serving a huge range of food from across the globe. However, to my surprise, the week between Christmas and New year is a time when lots of the eating establishments take their annual leave.
One of the restaurant that were still open for business at Christmas time was Obikà, a traditional looking Italian trattoria. The restaurant was half full when I entered and rather than take up a table, I was able to sit at the bar with a beer and enjoy my supper of meats, cheese, pesto and bread.
It wasn't until after we came back home that I looked into the background of Obikà and realised that there was a story waiting to be told. You see, Obikà is the brainchild of Silvio Ursini, who is a Group Executive Vice President of Bulgari, in charge of the Bulgari Hotels and Resorts, who took a sabbatical and instead of relaxing he launched the first of his mozzarella bars in Rome. Since then, Obikà has grown and now has branches in the UK, Japan, Dubai and the USA. I made contact with Obikà through Twitter to see if they would be interested in having their story told across Gerry's Kitchen and with the help of Jane in their marketing department I was able to have the questions answered by the man at the top.

Here's Silvio's story;
How did you get started?
I started ten years ago in Rome with a very simple idea : the Mozzarella Bar. A place where you could taste different kinds of the freshest mozzarella di bufala together with the best products from all over Italy.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Choose your partners carefully.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
I would like to see 100 Obikà Mozzarella Bars around the world.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
It would be Burrata with crostini and Bottarga (dry Tuna roe), Amalfi lemon peel, sliced Tomato, and Basil.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
It would be my wife Desi, I think it would be a fun meal. We would share mozzarellas, pizzas, and ricotta cake, with a great bottle of Taurasi wine.

So impressed with my visit last year, I had plans to take Nicola to the Charlotte Street branch for a quick drink, time permitting. As it turned out, we were able to make two quick trips in between our hectic sightseeing days. On both occasions, we were well looked after and even although we were only in for drinks, on both occasions we were treated to samples of Italian meats and cheeses. As a result, Nicola is now a huge Buratta fan!
We hope to be back in London before the year is out and have decided that Obikà is one place that that we definitely want to visit for a proper evening meal. Although if Mr Ursini gets his way, maybe there will be a branch of Obikà opening closer to home in the months to come?

Keep up with Obikà on Facebook and Twitter.


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