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An Italian about why in Kazakhstan easier to open a business than in Spain, America and Germany

Enrico Nappini

61 years old, hometown – Bari, the founder of the restaurant Pane&Vino


An Italian about why in Kazakhstan easier to open a business than in Spain, America and Germany

How it all began

I came to Kazakhstan in 2013. First, I lived in Almaty, worked on one project. A year later, I decided to open a small restaurant with traditional Italian cuisine in Astana.

I lived in Russia more than 15 years before Kazakhstan. There I was engaged in the distribution of imported wine, which also is partly the restaurant business. Moscow is a beautiful city, but dynamic and stressful, from which I am tired. Therefore, when I was offered to work in Kazakhstan, I agreed to work in Almaty, although I knew nothing about this country. I decided to stay here because I saw great potential in Kazakhstan. If we take into account Central Asia, Kazakhstan gives more guarantees in social and economic terms than other countries in the region. Ans I decided to build and invest in business here.


I lived in different countries: Germany, Russia, America, Spain, and was engaged in business everywhere. And I will say the fewest problems with documentation and business registration was in Kazakhstan, because here if you do everything right, the doors are always open. For me, the most important thing is to work honestly and respect the country you work in. If you compare the bureaucracy here and in Italy — in Kazakhstan is paradise in this case. In two years I saw how fast everything works here, especially on the Internet. A lot of necessary papers can be obtained quickly, in the office on the computer, so there were no huge problems.

About the restaurant

I do not like big restaurants, so my places are small, neat, without excessive glamour but with a relaxed atmosphere.

The name Pane&Vino translates as bread and wine. When during the war in Italy were problems with food, bread and wine were our salvation. Therefore, these two elements are always natural and real.

We do not give advertising and do so that the guest himself found us. I don't like fancy restaurants where everyone goes. Our advertising is our guests, they advise us to their friends, family members or colleagues. Without any advertising, we had Placido Domingo as a guest. He came to us every night and the last day after his performance, after he had eaten, he started to sing. At that moment I thought the walls of the restaurant would break — he has a rich and strong voice, I even had goosebumps.


Almost always I am here and meet the guests myself. But if I'm not here, my team knows how to do it right.

About food

I am a pedant, so in my restaurant, the food should be exactly the same as in Italy. If we have the right ingredients, the dish can be done. The pasta served in my restaurant is handmade using Italian flour. The most popular dish here is fettuccine with horse meat. Guests think this is a compromise between Italy and Kazakhstan, but it is not. This dish prepared according to an old recipe from the city of Padua. We eat horse meat, but not in all regions. I'm joking that fettuccine with horse meat is an Italian beshbarmak.

We have several new dishes, for example, a salad made with marinated salmon, orange and Italian greens, which are called sonchino. This mix between marinated salmon, orange and greens sound interesting. Our guests sometimes say our food is even better than in Italy. All the dishes are old and cooked according to Italian traditions. People are interested because for them it is something new.

I teach my people to cook fresh fish like in Italy without sauces and other strange flavours. To cook easy clean fillet on the grill with the addition of olive oil. According to Italian rules, fish should be eaten without flavour enhancers. In some restaurants, fish cooked with tomatoes, sauces. I believe it is either a mistake, or they add other ingredients to cover the stale of the fish. Fish should be elementary, just clean it well and select right temperature.


In our restaurant about 25 positions of dishes: salads, antipasti, pasta, hot snacks, soups, desserts. Every two or three months we change the menu. There are several dishes our guests know well and come for, we can not remove them, but we try to offer something new, according to the possibilities of the local market.

About difficulties

Kazakhstan has problems with finding products. Good vegetables can be found only in the South of Kazakhstan during a limited period of time, the rest of the time we use imported products. The meat here delicious and natural, without hormones, but the characteristics do not match international standards. I think this would not stay still because people and companies do a lot to improve the quality.

We also faced a lack of Italian products. This is the problem of Italians who are not able to build commercial relations with Kazakhstan. But it is also a matter of time because I see dynamic and progress every year.

We try to import some wines ourselves through companies, help them to find real Italian wine, some varieties we buy from local producers. For me, wine is like blood, and I can't live without it. Therefore, I see here small or either fake range of Italian wine. Kazakhstan is a young country in the restaurant business.

About the team

The team that will work as a small family is an important principle in my work. I think the team is the heart of the restaurant.


We, as foreigners who bring here foreign culture and traditions, should be the first to give energy, time and respect to the people who will work with us. Usually, I build my relationship with the team this way: the first few months I constantly give and do not ask anything for it. I myself show how to work, cook, because the locals do not know how to cook as in Italy, and this is normal. Only after a while, I start to demand result. Impossible to understand another culture in a short time. My staff must eat as we eat in Italy.

The chef is Italian, which is necessary for the restaurant to be truly Italian. But the main team are local. There are female chefs who cook like my grandmother or mother, it's nice. Many in my team have been working with me since the opening, and I am grateful for that. A regular salary, the comfort of employees is one of the important principles in my business. And the most important thing is respect for the staff.

Foolish to think one person is able to build a business or open a restaurant, it is unrealistic, a team is needed. Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would lose if they played alone, but when they play together — they can win. Necessary to share energy, information, knowledge with other people.

My philosophy — the guest is always right, but there a limit. The guest must respect the place, should not disturb others, be rude or unpleasant, it's just a sign of respect and good manners.