Monica Sebastianelli is an institution in the Madrid hospitality industry. She has been the host for three decades at Alduccio, the Italian restaurant that her father Aldo opened in front of the Santiago Bernabéu back in 1962. "He was a visionary. Then this was a wasteland, "she says proudly, and they have already lived with this three reforms of the Real Madrid stadium. Born public relations, she knows like no one how far she can tell everything she sees and hears in her local.

The patriarch of the family had visited Madrid in 1957 as a tourist. "Here they didn't know what authentic Italian pizza and pasta was. My father was a little bothered by that." Those were the years of Francoism, where everything was rather gray. "We had restaurants in Milan already and my father saw an opportunity." At first he brought the mozzarella by plane from Italy, but "ended up making it himself in the restaurant." He also made fresh pasta, a product that at that time few had tasted in Spain. "At first it was a luxury restaurant, with maîtres, four forks..."

Aldo Sebastianelli brought mozzarella to Madrid.

The reception in the city was excellent. It soon became a social and cultural meeting point. Alfredo Di Stefano, "my father's best friend and my godfather"; Sophia Loren; Claudia Cardinale, Mikhail Baryshnikov; Lola Flores or the Duchess of Alba were regulars of the place. "Every Friday Alfredo came to eat his gnocchis," he recalls with some nostalgia. There have been many nights to remember, but Monica remembers a couple: "One with Los Morancos, Lola Flores, Lolita... The year was 1989 and Alduccio was the fashionable place. Another day Baryshnikov came and when he finished dinner we took him to the Joy Slava."

Aldo's death from a heart problem in 1989, at age 54, changed the family's life. "My father had lived between Milan and Madrid until the doctors recommended that he lead a somewhat calmer rhythm of life because of his heart problems. My mother, three brothers and I had moved to Spain from Italy a year earlier." His mother had to step up and make decisions. "We were all very young. My little brother was 16 years old." Monica and her brother Giancarlo got into cooking. "Then I went to the management and the room." And they took the business forward.

Spaghetti carbonara with guanciale and free-range eggs

From the beginning they opted to maintain the essence of their father's project. "We want this to be a home for those who come to eat. Everyone can sit at our tables and feel at ease." One day the leader of CCOO and Alberto Núñez Feijoo can coincide "and greet each other", as can Antonio Resines, one of the fixtures, the magician Anthony Blake, the actor Javier Gutiérrez, players of Madrid and Atleti or members of the Royal House. "I always say it's the restaurant where they kiss the most." The relationship with the client is one of complicity and closeness, always maintaining limits. More than one has avoided the photos at the entrance leaving through the 'secret' door that the restaurant has.

From the walls of Alduccio hang countless photos with the most famous diners.

One of the lessons that their father left them was the culture of effort. "We earned our weekend pay by washing dishes, preparing cameras...". When it comes to managing their premises – in Madrid they had another in Velázquez Street – they have been guided by prudence. "My parents always said that in good times you had to save for when they came badly."

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Over the years, Alduccio has become a restaurant within everyone's reach. "We have an average ticket of 30-35 euros," says Monica. The value for money they offer has made them a reference among the Italians of the capital. "Doing everything by hand always drives up costs, but it's our hallmark. I prefer to earn less and keep customers happy. It's the way for them to come back." A day they receive about 200 diners.

The terrace of Alduccio.

Many are regulars and that implies that they know the menu and recipes inside out. "There are those that we cannot remove in any way, such as bolognese or lasagna. Note that this is not a very common dish in Italy, but here it likes it a lot. Of course, everything with fresh produce." When they have made a change they have also had to give explanations... and even back down. "We wanted to change the tomato from the Bolognese and it was not possible. Customers protested and there was no way."

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In the agenda of recent reserves are actors, singers, politicians, basketball players ... The walls of the space, full of photos, bear witness to all those stories. The singer SebastiánYatra has starred in one of the latest anecdotes. "He asked me for a paste with ketchup and I had to refuse," says Monica laughing. "He took it well and told me to surprise him. We made him a plate with a short sirloin, garlic and chilli that he loved."

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As a general rule, the philosophy with the diner goes through the classic "the customer is always right". Although in everything there are limits. "I don't mind having a dish returned to the kitchen; Now, I tolerate bad education worse." With a team of 23 people and an established success, the offers to expand premises or franchisees have been many. "We've always said no because my father wouldn't have liked it." Alduccio is, after all, Aldo's house.

Address: Concha Espina, 8.

  • Real Madrid
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