Marco Valle’s dining boltholes

The CEO of yacht manufacturer Azimut shares his favourite haunts for entertaining, from a charming trattoria in Piedmont to a Michelin-starred Jean-Georges in Shanghai

Marco Valle at Canton Divino in Avigliana, near Turin
Marco Valle at Canton Divino in Avigliana, near Turin | Image: Luca Grottoli

“Yachting attitude is all about pleasure, and entertaining is an important part of the business – many of our biggest deals have been done while enjoying good food and fine wine. I meet clients and brokers for meals all over the world, from South America, where we mostly host dinners, to the Middle East, where lunch is better, and the US, where I also have breakfast meetings. Breakfasts often feel too formal though; I prefer dinners, where everyone’s more relaxed and the drinks flow.

In the US, I spend a lot of time in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, particularly around the time of the boat shows – our days are packed with meetings, but meals are an important part of the schedule. In Miami, I like The Surf Club or the Mandarin Oriental, with its relaxed atmosphere and full American breakfast. Wherever I go, I eat like a local, so in the US, breakfast might be eggs and bacon, while in Asia it’s a bento box or steamed dim sum. In Fort Lauderdale, I’ll host dinners with dealers including MarineMax to solidify relationships and hear feedback – Valentino and Dune are two vibrant restaurants that have great fresh seafood

Dinners have a different feel in the Middle East because there’s no drinking, while in China everyone drinks too much because they like to toast a lot! I don’t want to offend by not drinking, so I try to keep these trips to a day or so, because I can’t handle it three days in a row. Either way, lots of deals for 25m boats have been sealed around the table. In Shenzhen, Elba at the St Regis has incredible views and excellent pastas and pizzas. Shanghai is another important market for us, and I take clients for dinner at Canton Table or Jean-Georges – both in Three on the Bund, which overlooks the city and is stunning. I try to follow my guests’ lead and eat whatever delicacies they choose. In Singapore, I like The Peninsula for lunches as it’s near the marina and always productive for meetings, while The Black Swan is a great spot for long dinners and delicious steaks. Hong Kong is always a strong yachting market and Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House is an elegant – but not stuffy – place to entertain, with set menus and wine pairings. 

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The south of France – Monaco and Cannes in particular – is key for us; Restaurant 1909 is great for lunch or dinner during the Monaco Boat Show. It’s members and their guests only, and popular with industry people. In Cannes, I like Le Cabanon for its incredible fish tartares and its Mediterranean feel.

Back home in Italy, I always take clients to restaurants close to our yards – anything from Michelin-starred fine dining to a local trattoria, depending on the client. The one-star Combal.Zero, in Rivoli’s old castle, serves an excellent prawn carpaccio, while for a more authentic Italian experience – which most of our American and South American clients seem to prefer – Canton Divino in Avigliana is charming, and its homemade ravioli with hazelnuts, honey and Parmesan is always a favourite. I’ll often meet Franco Fusignani, CEO of Benetti, for a big lunch in Viareggio, where we both have yards. We’ve had very productive meetings over simple grilled fish at Trattoria la Darsena.

As Italians, we pay attention to the role of food in business; it isn’t just about feeding, but about creating a more relaxed setting than you’ll find in any office. Plus, people just love Italian food!”

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