Pietro Collina

Pietro Collina: The roaming Roman

08 February, 2021

While most enter hospitality via high-volume bars or nightclubs, Pietro Collina got his first role at private members’ bar Mark’s Club in London aged 16.

He backed this up with a part time role at a Michelin-starred restaurant during his final year of school, which opened his mind to the culinary world and led him to New York to study at the Culinary institute of America.

Collina’s first big career move was landing a job on the floor at Eleven Madison Park in the centre of Manhattan when it had only recently opened. “The drive of that place was incredible because after we earned our first Michelin star we jumped straight to three, which had never happened before,” says Collina.

“I was actually looking at a career in wine at that point but the sommelier team was so strong that it was almost impossible to break into and after a couple of years I got behind the bar. “I realised the bartender, Leo Robitschek was having the most fun out of anyone so I asked to join him. I was still very much into food at that point so I wanted to bring that element behind the bar too.”

By 2013 Collina was splitting his time between Eleven Madison Park and Make it Nice Hospitality’s new restaurant at Nomad. “I basically begged to work at Nomad and it was a breath of fresh air because there was such a wide range of personalities working under the same roof. There was a combination of experienced bartenders and youngsters full of potential and the place had a vibrant buzz about it.”

Just a year later Collina was made head bartender at Nomad while also taking charge of Eleven Madison Park’s pop-up venues in Aspen and The Hamptons. “I got to ski a lot in Aspen and I just loved it, it’s true escapism for me. I could spend a week skiing by myself and love every second.”

Having seen Nomad rise to number three in The World’s 50 Best Bars, Collina jumped at the opportunity to return to London and help open Davies and Brook restaurant at Claridge’s.

“What I try to do when opening somewhere new and different is to bring our character and put a stamp on things, but then over time I think it’s important to be influenced by the people around you and the ones you work with.”

Collina then rejoined Nomad for the launch of its London edition in 2020, which had its December opening date pushed back by the pandemic. “Lockdown set us back, which was heartbreaking and because it’s such a seasonal menu we’ve had to start over for the spring. But I used it as an opportunity for my new team to work together over Zoom to come up with new ideas.

“For me, putting a bar team together is like a sports team. You need a balance of different skills but also a spread of diversity across ethnicities and gender to make it tick well. You also don’t want people who just agree because then nothing will be created.”

The Rome-born ’tender received around 1,800 CVs for 20 positions at Nomad’s London team and roughly 800 of them were Italian. “I couldn’t believe how many Italians there are in London so I’m really enjoying connecting with my roots over here and I’m super-excited because I’m going to be behind the bar doing three shifts a week. I love hands-on training and getting into the trenches because it’s important to feel like a part of the system.

“One of my favourite parts of my job is seeing the progression of people in the bar. It’s incredibly rewarding for me and I get a lot of purpose from my work. I get up in the morning with the idea of making Nomad better or the people I’m working with better. That’s why for me mental health is very important, particularly in times like these, so I’m completely open with my team and I welcome absolutely any conversations.”

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