Matteo Venini was born in Mandello del Lario, Italy, along the shores of the infamous Lake Como in the northern region of Lombardy. He hails from a long line of butchers, and started working in the family’s butcher shop at a very young age. Alongside his father, he learned how to handle and prepare all types of meat, poultry and game; and developed an appreciation for fresh locally-raised proteins and for local produce.
At the age of 18, Matteo decided to expand his horizons, and started working in professional kitchens. He then went on to study at the Academy of Castalimenti and Etolie, and La Cucina Italiana in Milan, where he refined his cooking and food presentation techniques.
Adventure then took hold of Matteo, and he moved to the United States where he joined the culinary team at Ristorante Tosca. At Tosca, Matteo was able to work his way through almost every station in the kitchen, learning and imposing his style of Northern Italian cooking. After a year, he became Tosca’s Pastry Sous Chef, and established himself as one of the most promising chefs in the Nation’s Capital.
When the opportunity at Posto (Tosca’s sister restaurant) came about, Matteo enthusiastically accepted Massimo Fabbri’s and Paolo Sacco’s offer to become Posto’s Chef de Cuisine. After several years at Posto, Matteo recently returned to the kitchen at Ristorante Tosca as the Executive Chef.
Venini’s love of cooking, fresh vegetables & herbs, fish, and meat is reflected in the tattoos that adorn his arms, and which he proudly displays while wearing his short-sleeved chef coat in the kitchen.
Those same ingredients are emblematic in the new menu that Venini has created at Tosca. Game and Fish, staples of his upbringing on Lake Como play prominent roles in the menu. Once a week, Venini uses the butchering skills that he learned as a child from his father to break down a whole lamb and other small animals for the various dishes and four different kinds of ragu (meat sauces) that you’ll regularly find at Tosca: lamb, veal, venison and rabbit.