Perhaps taking the prize as the restaurateur, or anyone, arriving in Guadalajara by the most circuitous route, Paolo Cassanelli has braved the pandemic and the competitive business atmosphere here to open, with his business partner Max,
Ragazzi Osteria and Pizzeria—ragazzi means “guys,” Cassanelli explains—in a part of town already peppered with great dining options.
Yes, Ragazzi is as much about the journey as the product, to hear the earnest, Bologna-born Cassanelli tell it. He and Max, also Italian, strive to prepare food as authentically as possible. (This doesn’t include their popular Pizza Hawaiiana, Cassanelli jokes.) For example, they order Italian supplies when they can, and put bechamel and parmesan in their lasagna (160 pesos) instead of the more common mix of mozzarella, parmesan and perhaps ricotta.
However, Cassanelli is just as earnest explaining how he left his career in the European fashion industry because it was “too materialistic,” and then set off on a multi-year journey that included a stay on an ashram in Kerala, India, and stints volunteering on permaculture farms around the world—sustainable efforts that aim to integrate animals, plants and people in a money-free, environmentally friendly operation.