All in all, Amsterdam is a pretty relaxed city. You're more likely to spend your Saturday afternoons at a brown cafe than posted up somewhere glitzy sipping expensive cocktails. But just because we're laid back doesn't mean we can't do quality. The team at Toscanini proves it. We sat down with the mastermind behind it all, Maud Moody, to find out where she likes to eat, the things that make Toscanini so special & what it's like to own an Amsterdam institution. Keep reading to find out more.
gloobles: Hi Maud! Thank you for sitting down with us and giving us a window into your world. Toscanini is really a stalwart of the dining scene here in Amsterdam. What was the idea behind it?
Maud: I started Toscanini 35 years ago. At that time, there were only a few quite expensive, formal Italian restaurants - & a lot of pizzerias. We wanted to open an informal place, with great food cooked from scratch.
gloobles: 35 years! That's a lifetime! How did you & chef Leonardo meet?
Maud: Leonardo came walking through the door almost 30 years ago, looking for a student job. He was studying to be an engineer. He started working in the kitchen, & he’s never left. In 2000 he became co-owner.
gloobles: It's funny how our own ideas for ourselves end up morphing & shifting into something totally different. Clearly food is a big part of your life now, but have you always been into it?
Maud: Yes, once I started living on my own, I was cooking a lot. My mother was a very good cook, so I picked up a lot from her. As for Leonardo, he learned to cook from his Italian father.
gloobles: Ahhhh it makes sense! You both had cooking in your blood. Besides its long history, what do you think sets Toscanini apart from other places in Amsterdam?
Maud: What makes Toscanini stand out is a combination of different factors - the big open kitchen where you can see the chefs working is one of them, the friendly & knowledgeable serving staff is another, the space with the high ceilings & roof lights, the white tablecloths &, of course, the food. Simple but made from the best & freshest ingredients. Toscanini’s cuisine is best described as classic Italian with our own twist.
- gloobles: The food really can't be ignored. Of course, we love everything about Toscanini, but the food is what keeps us coming back. The Deli is a newer addition for you. What inspired you guys to open?
- Maud: We wanted to open a place where people could buy the same ingredients that we cook with in the restaurant so that they could cook at home. And we have coffee, focaccia & pastries. The focaccia & pastries are prepared downstairs in the Deli.
- gloobles: Even with the same ingredients, we could never live up to Leonardo's wizardry! What do you think about the food scene in Amsterdam on the whole?
- Maud: It’s amazing how much has changed over the past 15 years or so! When we started, so little was available in terms of ingredients. There are so many good restaurants now, & it seems more are opening on a weekly basis. We hope that they all come out alive of the current Covid-19 crisis.
gloobles: We hope so too! Speaking of, where do you like to eat in Amsterdam if you're not dining at Toscanini or the Deli?
- Maud: We have many favourites: Rijsel, Bak, De Klepel, Scheepskameel, Le Hollandais. And more recently opened: Rosario, a small Mexican restaurant, & Café Parlotte.
- gloobles: Oh man there are just too many good options these days. How do you source your ingredients?
- Maud: Some of our fruit & vegetables come from Italy, as well as pasta, olive oil etc. We buy our meat & fish from local suppliers.
gloobles: A good mix of near & far. What is your favourite restaurant in the world?
- Maud: Sadly, it closed 7 years ago. It was a 3-Michelin star restaurant in a small village close to Barcelona called Can Fabes. I had the most memorable meal of my life there. What was so special was that they did not do the El Bulli style, with all kinds of foams etc; it was very local, traditional food executed to perfection.
- Leonardo: Uliassi in Senigalia, Le Marche. At the waterfront, with wonderful seafood, no compromises.
gloobles: That's exactly what we love too. Honest food done superbly. What's on your travel bucket list?
- Maud: I don’t know whether we’ll ever be able to travel like we used to or whether we should want to. Besides, I have already seen a lot of the world. But if I have to answer, Japan is at the top of my bucket list, also for the food of course.
- Leonardo: Hokkaido, Japan or Argentina & Uruguay.
gloobles: True, the travel landscape may very well change for good. We guess we just have to wait & see. Where do you see Toscanini in 10 years?
- Maud: I’ve never seen the point in looking so far ahead. I’m more of a ‘living in the moment’ person.
- Leonardo: The grandmother of all restaurants in Amsterdam. Still alive & kicking with a cooking school for young chefs who want to master Italian cuisine.
gloobles: Love that! Giving back to the culinary community. Alright, last question. If you could share a meal at Toscanini with anyone in the world, who would it be & why?
- Maud: Ricky Gervais because I think he’s hilarious, & he seems to be a really good person.
Leonardo: Trevor Noah because he is South African & has a very nice sense of humour.