There’s a secret culinary hub taking root in southern Italy’s Calabria region. Nestled at the foothills of the Aspromonte mountains, in an 18th-century country estate surrounded by olive groves is Michelin-starred restaurant Qafiz – and its new, sophisticated sibling Aspro Cocktail Bar.
Qafiz and Aspro are the brainchild of award-winning chef Nino Rossi and creative director Rossella Audino, and take over two of the estate’s former farmhouses, including the brick-vaulted former stables.
Creative director Rossella Audino crafted the duo’s interiors celebrating their rustic brickwork and decking them out in muted tones to emphasize the architectural bones of the spaces.
Inspired by Gaetano Sciolari’s iconic designs, two oversized hanging pendant lights crown the bar, which takes stage at Aspro, while midcentury armchairs are upholstered in original ‘60s fabrics.
In contrast, Qafiz’s atmosphere pays homage to the region’s pastoral heritage and chef Nino Rossi’s cuisine. His contemporary take on traditional, local flavours has raised him to prominence.
Set inside the estate’s former olive oil mill, Qafiz features crossing brick vaults and metal hooks used to move the earthenwares for the oil. To coincide with the opening of Aspro, Audino took the change to refresh the restaurant’s interiors during lockdown, adding leafy, airy touches to the Calabria restaurant.
‘I felt the need to bring the surrounding landscape inside by using green shades and traditional countryside objects’, she says.
Audino and Rossi have ambitious plans for the rest of the estate too – next, they will convert part of the villa into a small boutique hotel, with four bedrooms and one suite overlooking the Aspromonte mountains.
Audino has already started imagining the interiors, which she teases will be inspired by Villa Rossi’s historic marmette di graniglia (marble grit) flooring, dating from the early 1900s.