I'm browsing on the Trattoria Pomo d'Oro website searching for an accurate address for Gianni Annoni's restaurant, gastro-shop, Italian artisan pastry shop and his soon-opening wine bar. On most restaurants’ websites there are street names, addresses and maybe a Google map hyperlink under the Contact menu. But not the contact to Pomo d’Oro: a hand-drawn map shows the way with a description: “After a long walk in the city, who wouldn't like to sit in a genuine Italian family restaurant, to have dinner, or just a pleasant glass of wine with their loved one? When strolling from Deák Ferenc Square in the direction of Nyugati Square on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Road, you pass the pearl of Budapest, the Basilica, then walk towards the Danube down Arany János Street...” This is the Italian pace. It plays with your emotions, catches you and doesn't let you go. This 150 meter long streach of Arany János Street is meant for this. It lures you with its Italian sounds, smells and sights, to entice your every sense. Rosemary, lavender, shady terraces, designer furniture, a street that is full of laughter. Via Italiana is a little piece of Italy in the downtown of Budapest, built on the motto “Momenti di Vita – The moments of life.”
For Gianni, 'connection' obviously means something deep and complex. “Food and sharing a meal with somebody helps to create relationships and for us, Italians, we are really good at communicating loudly and eating with a really good appetite. For the last 12 years I've been trying to endear this lifestyle to Hungarians. I'd like for Budapest to take up this pace and it's starting to happen. There is a need for it and we would like to fulfill this need professionally.
Gianni finds it hard to understand that in every capital there is a little piece of Italy, but not in Budapest. “Over the past few years we have been trying to change that with a lot of work, patiently and impatiently, displeased and rejoicingly and thank God, and the council of district V., the Italians and the Hungarians, I feel that we are slowly achieving our goal. We have accomplished 60% of it. There is the restaurant, and next door an Italian gourmet shop that smells of their fantastic ham and fresh bakery goods, and an ice-cream shop on the corner. The opening of the wine bar is coming soon, there is already an Italian clothing store, and there will be a sunglass store as well. In my mind, a picture appears of Arany János street that is filled with the feeling of the Italian lifestyle from head to toe, and at the end of the street, there are gondolas giving serenades on the Danube...” laughs Gianni.
The next step for Gianni and his crew is to bring public and market awareness to the ‘Italian open kitchen and school’ coming soon next to Pomo d'Oro. „This 76 square meter kitchen will be equipped with professional machines. An enormously huge bar table will be planted in the middle that people can sit around. Don't think of an ‘apartment restaurant’, rather a more direct, „street-level” rental kitchen. If you can't sit 24 people at home or you don't have the proper kitchen supplies, then you come and have dinner here.” While talking, Gianni's phone rings constantly. He talks about chairs and the opening party in Hungarian then in Italian, says hello to nearly every guest while giving me a salty caramel ice-cream. He takes a pleasant look over the new smoker machine being placed in the restaurant then grabs my arm and takes me to the wine bar where he proudly shows me the ceiling lights (let's say, it's a chandelier... a medley of naked light bulbs with blue cables and clips): “Look! I designed this!” “Brava” I thought. “Gianni, never stop dreaming, there will be gondolas swaying on the Danube, soon enough!”