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Chef Daniele Taddeo Weaves Modern Italian Classics at Gioja

Chef Daniele Taddeo Weaves Modern Italian Classics at Gioja

Sheila Manalac
06 February 2023


Ubud’s newest dining destination, Gioja is all about freshness and quality, offering a refined gastronomic experience


This is not a fine-dining restaurant. Rather, it is a “refined gastronomic experience.” This is according to Gioja’s executive chef Daniele Taddeo, who does not put labels on his cuisine at the newest dining destination in Ubud. 

I recently visited Gioja (pronounced joy-a), a quaint and charming restaurant in the middle of Penestanan’s intricate walkways, surrounded by rice paddies and residential spaces, offering an intimate experience amidst Ubud’s signature natural backdrop. 

A brisk 100-meter walk from the street’s car access, there’s an element of surprise that comes with a trip to Gioja. I believe that good things come to those who seek, and indeed, seek I did, and I found myself in the middle of Ubud. The trip would be easy on a motorbike, the chosen mode of transportation in Bali.

I immediately placed Gioja in the fine-dining category, with the understated design feeling modern—the brick walls highlighted with warm elements such as wooden paneling, pops of color by way of heavy blue cushions, and an outdoor space surrounded by rice paddies, and a swimming pool to accentuate the space. 

I went ahead and asked Chef Daniele about his fine-dining creations on the menu, and as soon as I placed the “fine-dining” label, I was corrected. 

“I do not want to say we are ‘fine-dining’ because immediately, we are put in a box. I would describe Gioja as a ‘refined gastronomic experience.’ It’s where people go for an experience where they hear stories about food, and experience the chemistry of trying classic Italian dishes that are manipulated and refined to their highest quality,” said the Italian chef.  

Gioja, which means “Joy” in Italian, invites guests to feel joy as they dine. Not only with the food, but also with the high standard of service, the comfort of the open-space location, as well as the beverages. 

The inclusive and open-minded response of Chef Daniele piqued my interest, as putting labels has always been a human habit that makes identification easier. Casual, upscale, fine-dining—it’s easy to make decisions, and easy to know what I want.

Being a “chef of the world,” I finally understood Chef Daniele’s distinct point-of-view, as well as his artistry and attention to detail when it comes to his culinary creations. Chef Daniele grew up in a small town in Central Italy, surrounded by nature and wild produce. “If you like nature and the wild, you go live in my hometown,” he claimed. 

He would go around the forest picking truffles with dogs, go fishing, and find plenty of wild produce such as wild boar and venison in his grandmother’s kitchen. He spent most of his childhood in the kitchen as “punishment” from his grandmother, whether it was peeling onions or garlic, but always being in the presence of his grandmother, who is his primary inspiration for becoming a chef. 

“My introduction to food, was because I was always getting in trouble, and being in the kitchen was a punishment, But in this experience, it was my grandmother who was always in the kitchen cooking for the family and inspired me to become a chef,” he recalled, noting that his career as a chef was “inevitable.”

He dedicates the ‘Charcoal Black Cod’ to his grandmother, a “star” dish that has always been on Chef Daniele’s menu creations, and is now served as one of the main dishes in Gioja. 

Chef Daniele was a dishwasher in an Italian restaurant at age 14, before moving to London to work at various restaurants until 19. He experienced working in French, English, and Spanish restaurants, giving him a worldwide view of each cuisine, from technique, taste, and the overall working environment. 

He then moved to Barcelona where he spent over 2 years in the multicultural city. He worked at a tapas restaurant, as well as a Japanese and Syrian restaurant while there. 

“I traveled around, and worked at many restaurants with different cuisines because… ‘why not?’ I want to get out of my comfort zone and experience many things. When I live in another place, I have to adapt myself to a different culture and that can be challenging. But with each experience and every person I meet, I learn,” Chef Daniele shared.  

He then visited Bali and fell in love with the “philosophy of living, interesting flavors, and living in harmony with nature,” and he has been in Bali for 8 years since. He worked in various restaurants, including with the award-winning Chef Ryan Clift, who then established the restaurant Grow in Seminyak back in 2016. The duo worked together for over 2 years, and Chef Daniele experienced growth in…Grow.

“The doors opened for me after working with Ryan Clift. I felt like my skills as a chef had moved a step higher in technique. While working with him, I could use each product that I wanted, combine experimenting, R&D, and my creativity just blew up. It was a turning point for me.”

Chef Daniele believes that the “no-boundaries, no-rules, do-whatever-you-want” style of Ryan Clift as a head chef gave him the opportunity to develop his own style and way of cooking.  

“He is such a creative chef and he allowed me to experiment in the kitchen, to create my own dishes, to make mistakes, and to express myself.”

He also worked in Mozaic in Ubud and Karma in Uluwatu, and now he is the Executive Chef at Gioja where he created 65 dishes for the lunch and dinner menu. His menu was inspired by the industrial and natural atmosphere of the venue, which reminded him of a “hidden cucina in Italy,” and the brick walls in London.  

“The plates that you find are in harmony. A plate needs to be structured in design, cooking, and presentation, which is like a ‘golden ratio’. I then play around with the products and technique.” 

He describes Gioja as a place that is “homey,” serving Italian classics, with a twist of industrialism in the presentation and technique of the dishes served. 

Chef Daniele continues his creativity in the kitchen, constantly surprising guests with the constantly changing menu. He walks around from table to table, telling a story about each dish presented on the table.  

“I want guests to feel transported to a place, to a memory, or an experience when they try the food, perhaps go to Italy, or bring back a memory of childhood. I play around with the flavors, and I want guests to experience that too, that’s why I take time to explain the dishes to guests.”

I went for dinner and opted for the 5-course set menu. Each dish came out like a painting. It was aesthetically pleasing, as if each ingredient was choreographed and placed intricately on the plate. My personal favorite was the Mosaico of Amberjack starter, as well as the impressive 24-layer Lasagna. 

For dessert, the Summer Coming was a pleasant surprise, not only for its robust flavors but also for Chef Daniele’s story of the dish—this dessert is an ode to an old love.

Some of Chef Daniele’s newly created dishes that guests can expect are the ‘Sea Urchin’ with squid ink and yellow pasta, and the ‘Scallop’ with fennel puree. 

Gioja has its own backyard garden where they grow some of its herbs and vegetables, while they source some of its produce from Japan, Italy, and Australia.

I felt comfortable, relaxed, and truly welcomed while dining in Gioja, spending over 4 hours, enjoying good food and excellent conversations with the staff, Chef Daniele and the owner Daniele Restelli, who took the time to say hello to all his guests that evening.


Jl. Banjar Penestanan Kaja No.7, Sayan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

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