Pierangelo Lanfranchi | Biography

EVEN as a boy, young Pierangelo Lanfranchi knew what he wanted to do with his life. His parents owned a small trattoria in northern Italy, in the town of Emilia Romagna, and as a teenager, growing up by Lake Como, he worked as a waiter on weekends. 

“Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I just liked it. I was going to school Monday to Saturday, and then I would work on Sundays, from the age of 13.”


PierangeloHe assimilated an understanding of hospitality from his mother, who offered the same fine food and warm welcome at home, to friends and family, that she had offered to customers in her restaurant.

“Unfortunately, my parents closed the trattoria when we moved to the Lake Como area, but my mother showed me the meaning of true hospitality, in the way she received visitors or relatives.

“She always offered them food or wine or coffee. I grew up in an atmosphere where it was just natural to treat people nicely, and I did not understand until much later that it is not like this everywhere.”

The sixth of seven boys, Pierangelo “fell in love with the hospitality industry” and worked in small restaurants and a nightclub before following an older brother, a restaurant manager, to England.

“I improved my English, and moved to London in 1978, when I was 18, and started as a commis waiter at the Drury Lane Hotel, in High Holborn.

“I was able to enroll in a catering and hotel training programme with Grand Metropolitan Hotels. I would work for two or three months in every department, and that gave me an unbelievable amount of experience in all areas of the industry. It made such a big difference in understanding service and how you approach customers.”

Wanting to see more of the world and expand his professional résumé, Pierangelo arrived in Bermuda in 1982, working as a waiter in the main dining room at the Southampton Princess Hotel and then at the prestigious Newport Room.

IN 1985, he left the Newport Room to help with the reopening of Tom Moore’s Tavern before joining the MEF group in that same year. He worked at the Little Venice for two years before moving, as maître d’, to the Tavern on the Green in the Botanical Gardens.

“During that time, I was in charge of most of the functions held at Camden, the Premier’s official residence, and had the honor of supervising formal functions for visiting royalty and heads of state. I remember a dinner we organized for Princess Alexandra, and events for the first President Bush and for Margaret Thatcher, when she was Prime Minister.”

Pierangelo joined the Harbourfront in 1990, after the Tavern on the Green closed, firstly as assistant manager. He is now manager of the restaurant, and a partner in the business. After a workout in the morning, he is ready for a long and busy day.

“I do a bit of ‘cardio’ and weight training, and it helps me be more relaxed at work. The first thing I do is check my reservation book, for the day and the rest of the week. Then I go into my office and check for any e-mails, and return them straight away.

“There may be calls for reservations and parties, and then I will talk to the chef or my assistants about what we are doing that day.

I have built a great team and the turnover of staff is lower than 1%.

We work closely with the kitchen on specials and presentation. We have good communication, but in a relaxed atmosphere. We have a roll-call meeting at 11:30 when we tell the waiting staff the specials and the stations, and discuss anything that everyone should hear.

“I am at the restaurant from 10 until 3, then I am back at six o’clock until midnight or whenever, six nights a week, depending on who’s here, if there are guests who are important to the establishment.”

The business is so much “in his blood” that Pierangelo even drops in at lunch-time on Saturdays, when he is formally off-duty. It is a way of life that is not for everyone, and which can play havoc with personal or family life. Pierangelo, is resigned to the price of pursuing his professional vocation.

“It has been a problem in the past for me, but I have learned how to live with that. It comes with the territory. I am in Bermuda, and it works for me. I like Bermuda, and I like the restaurant. This is who I am, and this is the price I have to pay, unfortunately, and I have to accept it.Pierangelo

“I don’t complain. It’s hard to have a relationship, working these hours, knowing you would hardly ever see the person. Pierangelo does make time for interests away from the restaurant, , indulging his interest in photography.

“I work a lot on digital photography, and in 2002, two of my pictures were published in Time magazine. On the 2nd anniversary of September 11, there was an article on Bermuda, and I met a couple of reporters working on the article.

“They asked me if I had some pictures of Bermuda, so I said ‘sure’ and gave them a CD with some pictures. About two months later, two of my pictures were published in the magazine, with my name on them. Everyone asked me if I got paid, and I told them ‘no’, but I considered it a great honour to be in Time.

A VISIT from a nephew based in London led to Pierangelo becoming an accomplished diver. “I decided to treat him to a diving lesson, but Charlie Greene, the owner of Nautilus, talked me into taking a lesson too. I fell in love with diving. I took lessons with my nephew, and then ended up taking all of the courses, up to ‘rescue diver’ level.

“Bermuda i

s such a great place to do it, and see all the wrecks. I don’t do as much now, but I ended up doing 300 or 400 dives over about seven years.”

Pierangelo wasn’t formally trained as a chef, but he speaks of the joy of cooking with unrestrained enthusiasm.

“I love cooking. Of course, I grew up with a chef at home, my mum. She made all sorts of pastas, tortellini, ravioli, and great smoked meats. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were eating like kings and queens!

“Even when I lived in England, after the disco, at three or four in the morning, we used to go home and cook some pasta with tomato sauce, because we never seemed to have time to eat during the day.

“That’s how it started, and that’s how it was when I first came to Bermuda. With all of my friends in the business, we had parties at home, and everybody cooked a little something. And then, I pick things up from watching the chefs.

“Cooking is a passion! I do it for friends, and will go to their house and perhaps prepare a risotto, which is one of the things I do best. But I do a variety of things, and working with Asian chefs, I have learned how to use some oriental spices, which I like to use in a lobster curry, sometimes a mix of Italian and Oriental, using cumin and tomato sauce.”

HE reads extensively about food and wine and photography, and spends some of his annual holiday taking part in food and wine seminars in different corners of the world. In the last few years, Pierangelo has graduated from a Food and Beverage Cost Control course at the Bermuda College and completed a Dale Carnegie course. He has earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine every year since 1997.



Pierangelo also won Best maitre’d in 2004 and 2007 and the restaurant won may other awards like best sushi several times and more.

“At the moment, I am doing a lot of reading about food and wine ‘pairings’, and have introduced ‘tasting menus’ where guests have the opportunity to try several different dishes paired with a different wine for every course. Red wine is the drink of choice at the moment, but some red wines go better with certain foods, and it is nice to be able to

go to a table and make suggestions.”

He takes the view that everyone who walks through the door is special, but can report a few ‘celebrity’ patrons.

“The Berlusconi’s still come here occasionally, and Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon came three times in the week they spent in Bermuda. We ended up sitting down together, talking about movies and lots of things. They were nice, normal people.

“Ross Perot has been here, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones came a few times last year, and have been in this year. And when they see you somewhere else, they remember you and are friendly.

“I ran into Michael Douglas at Four ways, and he told me that he was planning to bring George Lucas in to see us, but the weather was bad, and their private plane had to turn back. This is an unbelievable place.”

Pierangelo is a gentleman, thoughtful and considerate to his guests, and a thoroughly professional host. He also knows that he is a lucky man, doing exactly what he wants to do, in the place he wants to do it.

“I am very grateful. I have such a good communication with the staff, and the chef, and without that, you don’t have a restaurant. I have great support from the kitchen, and from the sushi staff. We like to be creative.

“We have about 250 people, more or less, for lunch and dinner. Sometimes, we could squeeze in more people, but I don’t like to do that. People know that when they come here to the Harbourfront they will not be rushed out and can take their time and enjoy the incredible views.”