Ernesto brought Italy to Kalmar

Ernesto Porcile

As a young man, Ernesto Porcile travelled around Europe. Pure happenstance took him to Copenhagen, where a chance meeting later brought him to Kalmar. Ernesto would come to stay here, and has now been a well-known restaurant owner in the city for many years.

Today, he runs restaurant Ernesto, located just a short walk from Larmtorget. It is a classic Italian trattoria, which is precisely what Ernesto wants the guests to feel – that they are in Italy.

That was where he was born; in Naples, in southwest Italy. Already as a child, Ernesto worked a little bit in cafés and restaurants, and at 16 he set out for Milan to find work. Many adventurous trips followed, and Ernesto had time to work both in Germany, France and Denmark before he finally ended up in Kalmar.

Why Kalmar?

– When I was in my 20s, a friend and I felt we wanted to do something new. One of us said: “What if we go to one of the Scandinavian capitals?” So we wrote these notes with Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm, and just picked one at random. That turned out to be Copenhagen, and later I went on to Sweden from there.

– In those days there was just a single pizza place in Copenhagen, the Bella Napoli, and that’s where I worked. One day, a man from Spain came into the restaurant. He was living in Stockholm but looking for smaller towns in Sweden, where he could open additional restaurants. He didn’t have anyone who could make pizza, and he asked me. I thought “Why not?” and came with him to Kalmar. That was in 1973.

Where did you work at first?

– About the same time, two other pizza places had opened in Kalmar. They were the first ones serving pizza, and I worked at one of them, the Piazza di Spagna, located across the street from the restaurant I am running now. I was the only one in the restaurant who knew how to make pizza.

When did you open your first restaurant?

– That was in 1977, and it was called Lilla Italia. That venue is still a pizza place, and it’s called Italia, but it has changed hands by now.

You have run several different restaurants over the years.

– That’s right, after Lilla Italia, I opened the main Italia, in the same house as the Freemason’s Hotel. A couple of years later, in 1981, I opened the Pizzeria Ernesto, at Norra Långgatan. That was the first time one of my restaurants had my own name.

– I also founded the first steakhouse in Kalmar, and for a while, I ran the Ernesto in Totale, which was both a restaurant and nightclub, with live music.

When did you open your current restaurant?

– I opened this one in 2006. These days I want to run a place that’s a bit more quiet, with a focus on the food – which is 100 percent Italian, mind you. Wood fired pizza is always on the menu, but we change the other dishes frequently; Italy is a very culinary nation, so there is a lot to choose from. We also have a really decent wine cellar with nothing but Italian wines.

– Quality matters a great deal to me, and that goes for everything – not just the ingredients, but also the stoves the chefs work with, and the interior. Food and drink is a joy in life, and I want my guests to be happy. I live in here, and I want the guests to really feel that, that they are invited to my home. I want to create a place filled with love and personality.

How do you feel that Kalmar has changed as a city over the years?

– So very much has happened since I first came here, and a lot of good efforts have been made. I have seen Kalmar grow as a city, and we sort of grow together, Kalmar and I. You need to always develop and reinvent yourself.

I live in here, and I want the guests to really feel that, that they are invited to my home.

Ernesto Porcile

Ernesto’s tips:

  1. There are many nice places to go, all around Kalmar. I’m often out walking my dog, and I like to stroll around Old town, the City park and the Kalmarsund park. Svinö has some lovely scenery, and Skälby is pretty, too.
  2. I also find it interesting to visit historical sites. Tyska bruket and Tjuvbackarna, which are not far from the airport, are two examples. There are some ancient remains in those places, from the Iron and Viking Ages.
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Page published by: Destination Kalmar