300mila was born in Lecce from an idea of Davide De Matteis, who told us about himself at the table in the new “guise” of what, opened in 2006 as a Lounge Bar, is now a classy restaurant with many facets that welcomes its customers from breakfast in the morning to dinner.
In Lecce from the table to social integration
In January 2021 it changed headquarters and merged with the “Nazionale Ristorante”, another of Davide’s initiatives, which over the years has joined the 300mila Terrace and the 300mila Pizzeria in Otranto.
The evolution has not only brought about the new location, but also the enlargement of the premises up to the corner of the street with the showcase that illuminates the long bar counter behind which his remarkable collection of seltzer and cocktail shakers is exhibited.
The interiors tell a lot about Davide and his international experiences, offering gastronomy in a warm and refined atmosphere that is very attentive to the quality of raw materials and capable of firmly affirming both its belonging to the territory and its forays into other culinary cultures.
So Davide talked about himself, between the large windows overlooking the outdoor area and those on the walls where the bottles of wines and spirits are displayed.
Starting with his childhood and his training in the prestigious family pastry shop La Cotognata Leccese. His apprenticeship continued after graduation with an important name, that of Giorgio Orlandi, owner of Caffè Zanarini in Bologna, winner for Italy at the 1993 World Bartender Championship and an iconic figure in the mixology of the Emilian capital.
To him Davide owes the technique but also rigor and discipline. He told us that a test of skill was to keep the napkin placed on the counter spotless while the cocktail was being prepared. And he was good, so much so that he quickly became the director of one of the most trendy clubs in Bologna. To make the leap he lacked international experience and perfect knowledge of languages. But, in the meantime, the world-famous barman Tony Micelotta decides to land from the Savoy in London at the Grand Hotel Gardone on Lake Garda and Davide plans to join him and elect him as his second teacher.
Micelotta’s teachings enhance his skills and the elegance of gestures in the preparation of cocktails. Their perfect understanding would have led them to work together in London too, after the summer season on the lake, but the meeting with Munich where he had accompanied a friend for a job interview in a bar was accursed. In fact, Davide decides to stop there and start working at the luxurious Schumann’s Tagesbar, opened by the most famous bartender in Germany, of which he becomes director: a place where the whole “world that matters” passes but De Matteis changes again and opens Armani Caffè in Munich, before returning to Lecce and founding 300mila which, three times, in 2013, 2015 and 2018, was named the “Best Bar of the Year” in the Gambero Rosso Guide.
Do you think it ended here? Not at all! Davide also told us about his latest projects. The first is called Orecchiette à Porter, present in Milan, Rome and Bergamo, a format that brings the Salento gastronomic culture, including orecchiette, pucce and pasticciotti, around Italy. The second, to which he cares very much, is that of the Social Food Corporation, the gastronomic laboratory at 360 ° from sweet to savory born in 2019 in the former juvenile prison in Lecce, where end-of-sentence prisoners work, in agreement with the Ministry of Justice. A noble but also intelligent project that believes in inclusion and work as an opportunity for redemption. One of those resolutions that make the world look like a better place with a double advantage: the recidivism rate goes down and productivity goes up.
The laboratory project in Lecce starts from Davide De Matteis’ dream of returning to where it all began, when as a child he went to the pastry shop after school to learn how to make sweets. Today he has put hands on the dough to others using gastronomy as a tool to promote the integration and reintegration into work of the prisoners of the Borgo San Nicola Prison with the Ministry of Justice, which makes available over a thousand square meters in the former Lecce juvenile prison, with the intention of hiring twenty inmates.
The spaces, where three inmates currently work, have been redesigned and now house the Laboratory with the various production lines and latest generation equipment to meet the highest quality standards. The goal is to include six more next month by focusing on a short supply chain, respect for the territory, protection of the environment and health, ingredients mostly of biological origin and from the Apulian territory, traditional or ad hoc recipes. Responsible is Marco Silvestro, from Salento on his mother’s side with Neapolitan father and always passionate about cooking.
Today Social Food Corporation supplies the Orecchiette à porter shops and the 300mila gastronomic hub in Lecce, but the project is under development and will grow to complete the offer with the production of new products.
The pleasant chat continued while, reflected in the large illuminated windows, the fresh preparations of the young chef Stefano Carcagni paraded around the table.
Upon entry, we were pleasantly surprised by the harmony of the amberjack with mango juice, coriander, passion fruit and the strong taste of jalapeño pepper.
Then the chef gave us a preview of the exquisite and poetic Spring Egg cooked at low temperature on caciocavallo fondue and cream of broad beans and peas with Toritto almonds and puffed rice wafer, also ideal for vegetarians and for those who need a gluten free food.
We then very much appreciated a sushi foray with Felicity, one of Davide’s latest inventions, in which the sweetness of the shrimp is enhanced by the thrust of the very fresh note of basil and avocado, and Special in which black rice Venus and lettuce wrap a crunchy tail of shrimp.
A new addition by Stefano is also the risotto with cooked and raw prawns with blood orange, lemon and basil extract: we are sure everyone will love it and it will be one of the most popular dishes for next season!
We also enjoyed the octopus’s play of contrasts not only in color, served on pea puree and homemade pickled vegetables, confit tomatoes and mixed salad.
Before moving on to seasonal desserts, hot fried Parigine stuffed with custard and raisins, and the zeppole di San Giuseppe with yellow cream and sour cherries, the fresh note of strawberry ice cream. On Tuesday after Easter there will be twelve flavors that can be chosen at the counter of the 300mila. What to add? We will have to go back to Lecce to try them all!
Via 47 Reggimento Fanteria, 5 – Lecce
Info: +39 0832 307448 – www.300mila.it
Social Food Corporation
Via Monteroni, 157 (CDP Revolution) – Lecce