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Corrado Rattone

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We often talk of people who are good at their job as being “a born teacher” or “a born performer”. Corrado Rattone is nothing if not a born restaurateur. His family – back in Italy’s north-west Piedmont region (bordering France to the East and Switzerland to the North, with Turin in the centre) – was steeped in the hospitality trade. His father was a hotelier and his mother a cook, and over the years they ran everything from bars to restaurants to entire hotels.

School, Corrado readily admits, was “not his thing”, and so when his mother had heard enough from his despairing teachers at a parents-teachers evening when he was just 15, she decided to take him out of school and put him to better use in the family business. And for the next 20 years or so, that’s where he stayed, as the family opened a series of businesses. Then he got the travel bug and set out in search of adventure.

A long-standing friend of his was already working in Marbella and invited Corrado over to check the local scene out. With very little Spanish under his belt (although of course that’s less of a problem for Italians whose language is similar in many ways), he came for a week before returning to Italy to mull over whether a move could be a good idea. Three weeks later he’d made up his mind. At the time he was still single, and so had few commitments to hold him back, especially given that his parents had retired.

 

On arrival he spent his first two months at his friend’s restaurant, then five whole years at Da Bruno’s in Cabopino. But he was too much of an entrepreneur to stay employed by someone else, and when an opportunity came up to open Mona Lisa right here in Calahonda (on the site of what was already an Italian café), he jumped at it. This was 2010. It took a while to build up a steady clientele, but Corrado applied his lifelong principles of quality food, and attention to customers, and it soon became a fixture of the local community. “Perfection is impossible,” he says. “You’ll never please all of the people all of the time”. But please enough of the people enough of the time and you have yourself a going concern. 

 

The latest milestone in his journey opened just this year: “Heaven” restaurant just at the back of the same building that houses the new Oxygen gym, which in itself has become a thriving hub of youth and vitality. With a menu that leans towards healthy food, and a captive audience in an ever-growing workout and padel community, it looks set to be a great success.

 

Along the way Corrado met Lynn from Scotland. The couple have two daughters (14), Sara and Sofia (11) and Sara is already expressing an interest in the business, which obviously flows in the family’s blood. And while Corrado has no more plans (for now – “never say never”) to open any more establishments, it looks like Mona Lisa and Heaven will be around for years, and perhaps generations to come. 

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