When prominent names of Italy arrive in Istanbul, they visit La Mia Luce that serves in the Anatolian Side at Suadiye. There is definitely a reason to do this. Because La Mia Luce was chosen as the best restaurant in Istanbul by the Italian Government in 2016 and won the “Ospitalità Italiana” prize. The specials of La Mia Luce are prepared with original products imported from Italy. La Mia Luce’s Executive Chef Celal Bektaş entered the kitchen exclusively for Raillife and prepared many delicious specialties for us.

He chose to excel at Italian cuisine
Celal Bektaş, who has been working as the executive chef of La Mia Luce since 2013, is one of the experienced names who left 20 years behind in the sector. Bektaş, who improved himself in the fields of Turkish and world cuisine and participated in different training programs on this subject, said, “I also had experiences with Ottoman cuisine which reflected influences of Anatolia’s fertile lands, historical riches, and civilizations. Actually, the Turkish cuisine is a kitchen that varies according to the regions where the effects of Middle East and Balkan cuisines are seen. For this reason, it is possible to see the traces of various cultures and the culinary culture. In the following period, I turned to Italian cuisine because of being a Mediterranean country with many similar characteristics to Turkish cuisine and I specialize in this area. Italian cuisine is one of the world’s most popular cuisines. There are minor differences between our kitchens, but the materials used and tastes are very similar to Turkish cuisine such as the use of olive oil, thin pastries, fresh pasta, sourdoughs, vegetable soups, rice dishes, and the use of butter… Before, I worked in Papermoon for 8 years, in Bice Istanbul for 2 years, in Da Victtorio for 2 years and in Elio for 2 years.”

The key point is the use of simple tastes within harmony
Expressing that La Mia Luce has a very different food concept, Celal Bektaş said: “I am trying to present local delicacies to my guests. For example, we import special tomatoes from the genus Antonella grown on Catania Island, and we do not use other tomatoes in our meals. The key point in a good Italian dish is the use of ingredients that are compatible with each other rather than the use of a wide range of products. Italians eat healthy meals rich in vegetables, olive oil, meat, and seafood. As pizza and pastries are more commonly consumed in Naples and Milan, seafood is preferred in the Calabria region in southern Italy. The Italian cuisine is also delicious with a long history like ours. We have a menu that holds all these traces and makes you feel like you are in Italy. We prepare and taste every flavor to be added to the menu many times. We pay attention to the harmony and calculate the amount of the spices we add to the finest detail. Characteristic flavors of Italian cuisine such as fresh fish from the warm seas of the Mediterranean, handmade pasta, risottos, and thin pizzas baked in stone ovens are served accompanied by various spices and Mediterranean greens.”

New specialties are added to the menu
We asked Celal Bektaş what the most striking and acclaimed specialties were: “Our favorite specialties are our pasta varieties that are also consumed popularly in Turkish cuisine. There is great interest in our specialties such as the ‘Linguini Americano’ with jumbo shrimps, home-made ‘Tafliolini Ortica’ with nettle made out of a dough prepared with nettle, and grilled lamb tenderloin ‘Filetto di Agnello’ served with baked potatoes. We have recently added new items to our menu such as ‘Osso Buco’, beef shank served with risotto; ‘Focaccis di Pollo’, chicken breast presented with arugula, fried potatoes, aderezo and pesto sauce; ‘Casseruola di Gamberetti’ (shrimp casserole); ‘Fettucine Pollo’ served with cream, butter, parmesan cheese and basil; ‘Orecciette al pesto’ served with cream, parmesan, pine nuts and pesto sauce; ‘Pizza Pollo’ topped with chicken breast pieces, mozzarella cheese, jalapeno pepper, onion, corn kernels and barbecue sauce; ‘Filetto di Manzo’ served with mashed potatoes, spinach and demi glas sauce; and fried sea bream covered with bread crumbs and served with Mediterranean greens, cherry tomatoes, and aderezo sauce. Besides these, indispensable desserts of Italian cuisine like pannacotta, tiramisu, and napoleon are also available on our menu.”

He dreams of opening a restaurant of his own
Stating that they have a team of 24 along with the waiters and a staff of 10 in the kitchen, Bektaş said, “Our restaurant starts with lunch service and our work in the kitchen ends at 23.00. We always offer fresh products to our customers. We do not serve frozen products. For this reason, we constantly check our product stocks. This is so important for us because we import our products and we cannot afford a lack of material. We have a disciplined and systematic workflow, and it has to be that way. All preparations must be completed and ready for service hours before work begins. I react immediately to all the disruptions that may arise during this process. But fortunately, we have a good and successful team. This is reflected positively in the work we do. We get nice feedbacks that motivate us. I want to train successful chefs who will dominate Italian cuisine. Of course, it is also my dream to open a restaurant of my own someday, as many other chefs.”

Ingredients: For the pizza dough; 130 grams of flour, 15-20 grams of olive oil, 50 grams of water and 1 tsp of salt. For the topping; 100 grams of tomatoes, 180 grams of mozzarella, 100 grams of veal jambon, 20-30 grams of grilled eggplant, 7-8 black olives, 50 grams of porcini mushrooms, fresh basil and oregano.

Directions: Have the dough that is prepared with flour, water, salt and olive oil rest for 24 hours separated to portions of 170 grams each. Spread the sauce prepared with tomatoes, fresh basil, and oregano on top of the hand rolled dough. Top with mozzarella cheese, veal jambon, grilled eggplant, black olives, and mushrooms. Bake in a 300 degree stone oven for 3-4 minutes. Enjoy!