For restaurant owner Alain Dupuis, Terrazza represents the latest in a series of restaurant ventures in Cambodia.
An owner or part-owner in about 57 restaurants in Cambodia with more to come, the career food industry entrepreneur says Terrazza is a place where you can have a high-end Italian meal, but also keep it simple with a pizza and a glass of wine.
“Our objective was to keep an atmosphere of a trattoria, where you go and eat a simple pasta dish, a simple pizza, simple dish of asparagus and leave after café and glass of wine, but at the same time to have a nice Italian restaurant.”
Along with Swiss Consul General Pierre Tami and Italian Chef Fabrizio Sartor, Dupuis is one-third owner of Terrazza. The Walloon Belgian who has spent his career at the management end of the food service industry – including many years with the Accor group – is a stakeholder not only in the Blue Pumpkin restaurants but many others including the Emperor of China, the newly-opened Dim Sum Emperor near Central Market and Hagar Catering.
During his student years at Leuven in Belgium studying law, he went to an Italian restaurant every day. Since then he’s retained his love for Italian food.
“I love Italian food and did not stop eating Italian food when I was in California and particularly in New York. Probably the best Italian restaurants are in New York and not in Rome,” he laughed.
Dupuis says Terrazza was Pierre Tami’s idea.
“I told him I always had a dream to have an Italian restaurant and he found Fabrizio,” Dupuis said.
His partner in the Emperor of China restaurant Dick Wong is the one credited to finding the location for Terrazza on Street 282 in BKK 1. At first they weren’t sure, but when Tami and Sartor looked at it, they found it to be a good spot for what they had in mind.
“Phnom Penh has very few Italian restaurants and we felt there was a need,” Dupuis said. “The deli came as a second idea. We felt that we needed to import several products including wine, cheese and cold cuts. So, we decided we had better open a deli at the entrance of the restaurant that would demonstrate the good Italian products. Clients can buy a hundred grams of parmesan cheese, some Parma ham and olive oil. We have pasta from Italy and fresh pasta too,” he said.
Dupuis invites people to visit Terrazza.
“Come in and check it. You will see that if you want to have something expensive e and sophisticated you can have it, but if you want to have an inexpensive pizza or spaghetti bolognaise, in both cases I think you will find value and be happy.”
Dupuis said he lets his Italian and Swiss-Italian partners express themselves.
Over a lunch last week with Corsican linguist and professor Jean-Michel Filippi, Dupuis ordered buratta with olive oil and lemon, three kinds of pasta, including one with lobster and risotto, an Italian creamy rice dish.
“We had ravioli and sea bass with a salt crust, which is then served salt less and boneless,” he said.
Filippi said elements of Italian cuisine could be traced to Roman times, thanks to evidence found in the volcanic aftermath of Pompeii.
“A German scholar noted Roman food was extraordinarily healthy and that you could find similar food today in Crete where they have roast meat, goat cheese, and yoghurt: perfect for health,” Filippi said. “Italian cooking and Italian wine is some of the best in the world. Italians were the first ones in modern humanity to mix cheese with fruits and honey.”
Filippi said Muenster cheese was not a French invention, but an Italian one.