Renzo Scribante

Restaurateur

Sitting in the elegant Remos Maximilliano restaurant and Italian deli is a fine way to pass the morning.

The smell of fresh brioche wafts over you, propelled by ceiling fans that add a languid touch of old-world charm. It’s buzzing at night too, with diners ordering the Italian dishes that Renzo Scribante (34) learned to cook with his mother.

Remos Maximilliano is the third deli, bakery and restaurant that Scribante has opened and his first in Johannesburg, at the new Waterfall Estate.

He opened the first outlet in 2007 in Durban and the second in Umhlanga. Cape Town is next on the menu and he’s also planning to expand the distribution side of his business to supply other restaurants and hotels with the meats, cheeses and other products he imports from Italy.

“I grew up helping my mother in the kitchen with our big Italian lunches when I was young so that’s where my passion comes from,” he says. “We serve genuine Italian dishes and a lot of them came from her. The tomato sauce on our pizzas and pastas is called Mama’s Sauce because it was her recipe.”

It’s a fiercely competitive business and hard work too, since Durban-born Scribante still lives at the coast with his wife and two children.

He is currently commuting to Joburg to keep a hands-on presence as the new 180-seat branch finds its feet. He designed the elegant décor himself too, and it’s as mouthwatering as the cheesecake.

Scribante says “we” a lot when he describes his business, because he has focused on developing the people he employs and letting them find their own niche.

He has sent some staff to Italy to improve their skills, knowing that with three branches and a distribution business he needs to be surrounded by good managers. “It’s about the staff, you don’t build a business you build people. And then the people build the business,” he says.

“My vision is to have a couple of stores in each province and to grow the distribution of our Italian products to serve other hotels and restaurants.” ­— Lesley Stones