Giovanna Covone had long had in mind to share the recipes that she served for years to regulars at the two Bottega addresses, in Montreal and Laval. The pandemic, among other combinations of circumstances, delayed the project, which has finally come to fruition.
“I often cooked with my mother when my two boys were little – they are 14 months apart,” Covone explains. At one point I wanted to make the recipes myself, but my mom didn’t measure! » For example, the amount of flour required for a given recipe had to fit in the palm of your hands. “So I measured and started writing down the recipes to make them myself about 20 years ago, to see if they worked! », recalls Giovanna with a laugh.
It was also the moment when the woman from Casacalenda, in the mountains of central Italy, decided to get her hands dirty in the kitchen of Il Mulino, a restaurant purchased by her late husband Aniello in 2000 “I worked in an office before, but I wanted to do something else, so I got my foundations by going to culinary school when the boys became teenagers,” the young retiree tells us. In 2000, I went to Bologna and Naples to learn other techniques, and then entered the kitchens of Il Mulino. I worked there for six years in the kitchen with Tony De Rose, the previous chef. »
It was therefore well equipped that Giovanna Covone took charge of the kitchen at Bottega, a restaurant born from the desire of her eldest son Fabrizio to start his own Neapolitan pizzeria. If pizza has become the trademark of the restaurant on rue Saint-Zotique, the dishes cooked by Giovanna have always complemented an offer that has made the place a must. “Between 2006 and 2015, I’m not saying this to brag, but we were so busy that we had to turn away 100, 150 people a day,” recalls Massimo Covone, who takes care of reception and administration – he gradually took over from his father Aniello, who died in 2014, in addition to updating the wine and cocktail lists. So much so that the Bottega formula has become a school, literally.
“A lot of entrepreneurs would come here and wonder why it was so busy,” Massimo continues. They said to themselves: “I want success like that too!” Honestly, several restaurateurs have replicated what we do,” he adds.
“We’re doing something good so that people do the same thing as us,” adds Giovanna, who says she’s ultimately flattered to have been partly at the origin of the explosion of pizzerias in Neapolitan inspiration for 15 years in Quebec. For her, the recipe remains simple: “If we use good ingredients, we won’t fail,” she says, telling us about parmesan and olive oil purchased from the best Italian producers. That said, the Covones are doing more and more business with local artisans, while favoring seasonal cuisine – Fabrizio tells us that his family even contributed closely to the development of Saputo’s Fiore di Latte!
This is why Giovanna Covone is surprised when we tell her that her recipes must be complex or when we ask her for her secrets. “But it’s so easy,” she repeats to anyone who will listen. These are recipes from Naples, where my husband came from, and from Molise, in the Campobasso region, where my parents are from. You know, we have customers who have been coming here for 17 years, because the ingredients are fresh. And now it’s all going to be there in the book! »