The Gateway City isn’t lacking in Italian restaurants, but Sergio Chierego is confident that there is room for at least one more.
As chef de cuisine of Casa Don Alfonso at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis – which is scheduled to open in March 2021 – he brings international experience to renowned Italian restaurateur Mario Iaccarino’s first American venture. Chierego grew up in Sardinia, Italy, and has worked all over the world, from Germany to the U.K. to the Caribbean.
Most recently, he was chef de cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton’s restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. With his combined experience and tenacious personality, Chierego is poised to add a unique point of view to St. Louis’ storied Italian dining scene.
How have your travels influenced your cooking style? I’ve worked with a lot of people of different nationalities and backgrounds. That’s the part I enjoyed the most – being able to work with people from all over the world – and that’s what really motivates me every day. Flavor-wise, [my cooking] is based on my mom and dad and, of course, the Italian culture. My mom cooked from scratch every day. She used fresh, seasonal ingredients – never frozen. For us, Italian flavors are natural; it’s something you learn at the dinner table. Traveling and working in kitchens in Germany, the U.K. and Antigua and Barbuda, I was able to expand my recipe book, if you will. And then I got the opportunity to work in a wine shop [before] I moved to Riyadh for The Ritz-Carlton.
How do you plan to put your own touches on Iaccarino’s concept and menu? I’m quite happy that the Iaccarino family adopted me for this project. I feel honored to be part of this journey. I’m going to embrace [Mario’s] menu and vision and slowly introduce my own. The pandemic is playing a part, however; we will not show our full potential from the beginning. Step by step, we will introduce more to our story.
How will Casa Don Alfonso fit into St. Louis’ Italian dining landscape? I appreciate the fact that the Italian community [here] is strong and active. What Casa Don Alfonso will provide is a very authentic flavor based on organic ingredients and daily preparation. For example, our kitchen has only one freezer, so we cannot mass produce anything. Our team will work every day with the freshest, highest quality products – it shows our respect for the ingredients. I’m so excited [about this restaurant] that I had to cross the ocean to be here. I really believe that St. Louis and the Italian community deserve this representation of Italian cuisine. We’re here to establish new flavors with old traditions.
Casa Don Alfonso, 100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, Missouri, 314.863.6300, casadonalfonsostlouis.com