New York has more than 1,600 pizzerias and none of them look like this. Kook, a new pizzeria and osteria in Rome, balances a minimalist aesthetic and architectural aspirations with old-world charm. The restaurant, designed by Rome-based Noses Architects, is a sophisticated space with white gallery boxes and tidily exposed duct pipes, but it’s sprinkled with old leather sofas and salvaged wood dining tables that conjure up a relaxing, almost domestic atmosphere.
Located in a provincial town on the outskirts of central Rome, Kook is a “modern interpretation of a tavern or pizzeria,” its architects say, though it’s easier to just call it postmodern. The design of the interiors is an exercise in collage, contrasting cool white walls, steel fixtures, and textured concrete counters with warm ’70s-style parquet floors, and old brick columns.
The space is organized along an open plan with different “zones” that bleed into one another. They’re delineated by the scattered pieces of furniture, which seem to float in the large, echoing hall. Restaurant functions, including the order counter and bar, are bundled in self-contained stations and are framed by low concrete partitions.
The kitchen, labeled “Cucina” in concrete sgraffito, is hidden behind a large frosted window and barred access by an industrial steel door. On a back wall, framing several bottles of sparkling water and sodas, is etched an Italian aphorism that roughly translates as: “Foolish, furious, and devoid of common sense is the one who does not enjoy the meal in every sense.”
At the center of the restaurant is a large, glass-encased olive tree, which the architects vividly describe as a “green aquarium.” Apart from beaming in sunlight, the tree is a visual and spatial prop that references the local terroir and adds to the dense mix of mementos. And as for the profusion of vintage paraphernalia–which also includes an old Italian bike mounted high on a wall, a charming filing cabinet, a glimmering chandelier, and a dozen more tchotchkes–the architects explain they wanted a space “full of memories” and objects that once bore witness “to intimate family scenes.” What they built is a place where “today’s and yesterday’s threads meet in the architecture and in the cuisine.”