18 / 02 / 2016
Karine & Giovanni
We interviewed Karine and Giovanni, owners of several nice italians spots in Paris.
Hello Karine, hello Giovanni! Tell us a bit about yourselves!
Karine : I’m half Belgian on my father’s side and half French on my mother’s side. I grew up in Belgium, near the North Sea and moved to France later in life. I’ve been living in Paris for 25 years.
Giovanni : I’m originally from the Naples region. I was born in a small town near Pompeii on the Amalfi coast.
For the past 15 years we’ve been living in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. We’re love it; it has a real village feel to it.
What is your professional background?
We met back in 2000. Giovanni was a waiter in an Italian restaurant and I was a press officer in a record company. We moved in together quite quickly to a place on the Canal Saint Martin.
We both wanted the same thing out of life and shared the same dream: to open our own restaurant.
So we decided to open a little Neapolitan trattoria in the Canal Saint Martin neighbourhood. La Madonina, rue Marie & Louise, was out first “baby”, our first restaurant.
It soon became very popular. People enjoyed eating al dente linguine alle vongole and listening to Adriano Celentano.
Then the bakery on rue Marie & Louise closed down. Giovanni had always wanted to open a pizzeria like those in Naples, his childhood city and birthplace of real Italian pizza.
We opened Maria Luisa in 2006 and it quickly became THE place for pizza in the area. This year is the Maria Luisa’s 10th anniversary, and it is still listed as one of the best pizza restaurants in Paris.
In 2011, we opened a restaurant in the 11th arrondissement called L’Altra and in 2013 we opened our first restaurant on the Left Bank, the Luisa Maria, rue Monsieur Le Prince.
How did you come across Sessun?
We first met Emma in Lourmarin, a small village in the Luberon in the south of France. We have friends in common who live there.
Giovanni and I love inviting friends over for drinks and dinner, organising parties, dancing, dressing up, and having fun. Our love of the Dolce Vita, our party spirit and a certain joie de vivre meant that we soon became good friends with Emma.
We often see meet up with one another whether in Paris, Marseilles or Lourmarin for big dinner parties. Any old excuse will do for a big get-together.
I knew about Sessun label even before I’d met Emma. I love the Sessun colours, prints and fabrics. At the beginning of every season I take real pleasure out of going to the boutique on the rue de Charonne . The girls who work there know my taste and always pick out the key pieces of the season for me. The clothes are always laid-back and elegant.
How would you describe your cuisine?
All our restaurants serve UNA CUCINA ITALIANA, delicious Italian food that is simple and authentic and full of the flavours if Italy. We are very particular about sourcing good quality, fresh produce, which is the basis for any good pasta or pizza recipe.
What is your average day like?
Giovanni is out and about all day. Every day he visits our restaurants. We also have business partners, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to manage all of our restaurants properly. I look after the administration side, contracts, staff, PR, social networks etc.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Giovanni started working in a restaurant with his ZIO (uncle) at the age of 14. His dream was to open his own restaurant one day. A twist of fate brought him to Paris where we met.
My Belgian grandmother had a nightclub on the Belgian coast. My dad had a tennis club. I always wanted to have my own place. When I was little I used to play shops with the old Spanish till that was on my Dad’s bar.
One last question. Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
We always have new projects in the pipeline! It’s what keeps us going. But nothing is 100% sure at the moment.
New projects are often the result of a chance encounter. 2016 has only just begun…
Thank you Karine and Giovanni!
Photo © Sessùn
10, rue Marie & Louise
2, rue Marie & Louise
52, rue Saint Maur
12, rue Monsieur Le Prince