Fire & Water: La Dolce Cucina

<< Back to Robb Report, October 2003
  • Linda C. Lentz

Tuscans are known for their headstrong love of life, food, language, and all things Tuscan. So why would Pino Luongo—quintessential Florentine, cookbook author, and impresario of New York’s acclaimed Le Madri, Tuscan Square, and Coco Pazzo restaurants—choose the pragmatic German minimalism of a Bulthaup kitchen for the rambling prewar home he shares with his wife and three children in West-chester County?

“Tuscan doesn’t always mean traditional,” says Luongo. “To be Tuscan actually means to be modern. Italian taste today is defined by the very old and the very contemporary. You would be impressed and amazed at how striking stainless steel looks against terra-cotta floors and red brick walls.” In fact, he adds, “I have lots of friends in Tuscany who own country houses. And many of them, for purposes of being either practical or eclectic, have Bulthaup kitchens.” 

Luongo’s goal was to re-create the organization of his restaurant kitchens minus the commercial appearance. “There is an efficiency and understanding about how to use space that I find to be excellent in Bulthaup,” he says. “They have so many finish options, counters, sinks, faucets, even range hoods, that they can satisfy all sorts of needs.”

Aesthetically, Luongo wanted the elegant look of dark wenge wood to coordinate with the main living area’s dark hardwood floors. He selected the company’s System 25 with an aluminum-edged black/brown finish on oak. The counters are stainless steel with a birch multi-ply edge.

Once the look was established, Luongo worked directly with Bulthaup’s in-house designers to develop the floor plan. “I wanted a layout that would allow me to cook while entertaining,” he says.

Accordingly, the primary work area was arranged along adjacent back walls with a 48-inch Viking range on one, and the sink and dishwasher on the other. Among his priorities: base units for cutting boards, a pullout waste bin, and drawers to keep utensils and spices organized—all within arm’s reach of the chef’s station. “You’ll notice that we didn’t put in upper cabinets,” says Katja Wilkens, a designer on the team. “That is because we believe in the luxury of free space. When you cook, you don’t want to be distracted by cabinets.”

Two side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerator/ freezers are housed on an opposite wall, along with a row of tall pantry cabinets, all hidden behind panels because Luongo did not want them visible from the adjoining family room. 

The most compelling element of the spacious room, however, is its overscale 112-by-47-inch stainless steel island, complete with maple butcher block for making pasta and a built-in deep fryer and grill. Raised 15 inches off the floor to downplay its bulk, the island provides unimpeded workspace, a place for guests to congregate without disturbing the cook, and storage for pots, bowls, and linens. Translucent glass cabinets facing the island supply decorative storage for Luongo’s collection of Tuscan dishware.

“They knew their products. I knew what I wanted. Now I’m prepared for every event,” declares the chef.

Bulthaup, 212.966.7183, 800.808.2923,


Range: Viking 48-inch stainless steel gas range with six burners and a griddle
Electric deep fryer: Combiset KM402 by Miele
Electric indoor grill: Combiset KM411 by Miele
Dishwasher: G843SCVi from the Incognito series by Miele
Range hood: 120cm stainless steel hood by Bulthaup
Refrigerators: Two 700TCI integrated refrigerator/ freezers by Sub-Zero with upper refrigerator cabinet and lower freezer drawers
Cabinets: Bulthaup System 25, style A4 oak with aluminum edge in a #54 black/brown finish, and a stainless steel island
Translucent white glass cabinets: Bulthaup
Stainless steel faucets, sinks, and counters: Bulthaup
Backsplash: Stainless steel outfitted with wire shelves and fluorescent lighting by Bulthaup

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