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Johnny Micalusi, the excellence among fish restaurants in Rome
“270 euros per kilo. That is the incredibile price I paid for a box of shrimps. It was December 23 and I could not afford to miss such an important ingredient for my restaurant”. Excess and tradition, fascination and competition: this is the essence of the philosophy signed by Johnny Micalusi, leading player in Terracina’s fish auctions. His life has been entirely dedicated to the sea world, celebrating taste and conviviality in the best fish restaurants in Rome as well as in the rest of the world.
Terracina has been offering – and offers still today – the fresh fish that gave life to an international myth. It was born in Rome around 20 years ago thanks to the Hosteria del Pesce in Monserrato street, then evolved through the Assunta Madre brand and finally turned into the new Johnny Micalusi Restaurants concept.
Johnny’s restaurant located in Crescenzio street is currently a benchmark for those who want to taste the best products generously offered by the sea. Every night it hosts local foodies and an international audience travelling through Rome.

Port of Terracina

“Our market is searching for the best quality. Quality to taste, experience, remember. That is the reason why all fish, shellfish and crustaceans selected and served in my restaurants come from the Mediterranean Sea, mainly from Terracina, one of the few Italian excellences when dealing with top-notch fresh fish. The enthusiasm shown by our audience over time can confirm the effectiveness of this approach”. This is Johnny’s recommendation to all those who run a fish restaurant and an invite to all those who search for top taste.
“Offering quality pays off. When you start form an excellent product, cooking tricks and rethorical decorations become useless” Johnny Micalusi explains. “The easy-to-taste gourmet formula developed in my fish restaurants is based on the full respect of the genuine essence of all sea products, emphasized by Mediterranean taste nuances brought by all complementary ingredients. Never hide or twist the excellent taste of high-quality fresh fish”.
This a strategic choice, a firm viewpoint, an explicit way of conveying a precise statement: all sea products selected by Johnny Micalusi provide clear evidence of top quality. This message aims at emphasizing the deep link between gourmet world and healthy nutrition. Additionally, the unique quality of the ingredients used in Johnny’s recipes is always complemented by generous portions and excellent care for all of his guests.


Fishermenfrom Terracina

Selecting the best product available in the market is key to reach excellence. “You can learn a lot from the fish tradition developed in Terracina” Johnny Micalusi explains. He grew up as a fisherman in this place, then turning himself into a very successful food entrepreneur over time.
“Terracina means tradition and quality. Fishermen have a strong expertise, they can manage the sea product properly, carefully preserving its integrity”. In fact, fishing plays an important role in local economy. Back in 1980, Terracina introduced the auction-based sale system to coordinate and fully enhance fishermen’s individual commercial initiatives.
As reported by Dario Venerelli, President of the Fishermen Cooperative running Terracina’s auctions, the result pursued and achieved with the introduction of this sale system has been a significant improvement brought to all involved business players aiming at a more rational exploitation of local resources. 600 tons of fish, shellfish and crustacean are sold through our auctions every year, offering unmatched quality to the market. The natural environment is beneficial to the marine fauna thanks to the rocky seabeds enriched by vast sea grass (Posidonia oceanica) areas. That is why the colors of all sea products offered by the sea around Terracina look bright and lively, their taste intense and authentic”.

TheSea Auction

Johnny Micalusi is a very careful selector of all ingredients combined and served in his fish restaurants and has become the main character of Terracina’s auction. He can influence the overall product availability thanks to his daily purchasing activities. As a consequence, this can affect pricing levels, thus triggering a fascinating competition driven by the continuous search for top quality.

In fact Terracina’s sea product quality standard is very high, while on the other hand the available amount is very limited, mainly considering white fish. As a result, the overall auction sale prices is usually quite high and naturally impacted by seasonality as well as weather and environmental conditions. However, this never hinders the constant interest shown by customers, retailers and restaurant owners.

The local auction’s operational efficiency is fully appreciated by the audience, being supported by a solid digital management, which replaced the more traditional auctioneer’s voice-based method. The modern electronic management approach has changed the fascinating mood of traditional auctions, heated by an amazing play of voices seeking for the best product on sale. On the other hand, the process has been significantly improved in terms of efficiency and transactional reliability.

“Terracina must continue to work in the name of quality. The final consumer can definitely understand this message” Johnny invites. “This is proven by the great success of all fish restaurants I have created in the last 20 years, confirmed by the very positive experience of the first Johnny Micalusi branded restaurant launched back in December 2018 in Crescenzio street, the heart of Rome”. A very accurate selection of fishermen supplying the product to be sold in this auction is fundamental to reach excellence and keep the top-notch standard over time, while actively partnering with similar commercial organizations located on the coast between Rome and Naples. Gaeta, Anzio and Fiumicino, located close to Terracina, for instance are relevant allies. “I fully appreciate the organizational skills traditionally shown by the auctioneers working in this area and translated into 2 main success factors: huge care for the product integrity and deep respect for the environment”.

TheSea Product

The sea product offered by the best auctions based on the Thyrrenian Sea covers a wide range: mullets, octopuses, cuttlefish, squids, rhombuses, cods, shrimps, bluefish, whitefish and much more. “The red shrimp and the John Dory are traditional symbols of Terracina’s fish auction. Their undisputable quality provides them with an excellent positioning in fish market exchanges” Johnny explains.
On the other hand, the socalled poor fish is yet to be well known and fully appreciated by Italian consumers. “The types of fish usually defined as poor are absolutely rich in taste, additionally bringing a very high nutritional value” Johnny points out. “Sardines, anchovies and all bluefish in general are not considered in our national market as they would deserve. They need to be supported in a more creative, effective way, used in new cooking solutions and presented in restaurant menus throughout the whole year. They are a market opportunity, being constantly available and commercialized at quite affordable prices. I use them frequently, especially in original starters. The result is innovative and tasty, becoming an indulging prelude to all following flavorful recipes”.