Chef Susy Massetti, founder of L’Orto, on her passion for clean food and Nonna’s home cooking.

You’re very well known in Bahrain and have opened various popular eateries over the last decade. Is L’Orto, finally, what you’ve been waiting to bring us all along?

Yes, L’Orto is the combination of two dreams that I have been pursuing for many, many years, that of a restaurant and an organic farm. L’Orto is sustained by Roots & Shoots, where I can almost tailor my production, planting et cetera around the needs of my kitchen. At Roots & Shoots we produce the chickens, the eggs and all the herbs and vegetables needed for L’Orto, all organic using no tillage; a regenerative type of agriculture and, more importantly, sustainable. Soon we plan to also have a small selection of dairy products as well.

Your emphasis is on clean and organic ingredients. Where do you source these?

Besides our own farm, of course we use, as much as possible, local producers that are either organic or use hydroponics systems, although unfortunately there are very few. We try to limit our overseas imports whenever possible although it cannot be avoided completely. We also use local fishermen that do not use bottom trawling nets and are mindful of the environment.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the kitchen? Is there something you can only do in Bahrain?

Actually yes, spending time on my farm! I know it sounds cheesy but honestly, it’s like taking a short ‘vacation’ in a green, peaceful oasis that is full of life. It is truly something else! I love watching the animals and catching up with the guys on what is going on and just simply sitting under a green tree!

What is your signature dish? Please explain the development and what makes this dish so special, both to you and your guests.

La Pasta Rifatta, which in Italian means ‘pasta cooked again’. This is a peasant, homey, as-it-comes dish that my grandmother used to do quite often and of which I have very fond memories. It is, very simply put, pasta left overs (sauce and all) cooked again in a pan until the bottom becomes crispy and served with a generous helping of fresh sauce. At L’Orto we bring it to the next level by topping it with our wonderful fresh burrata and a good drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil! Our guests seem to like it a lot, so thank you Nonna! ✤