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Northern Italy


vmilor
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We have recently returned from a 2 weeks trip to some interesting places in Northern Italy. We have had dinners in a good mix of places ranging from trattorias to multi starred or very highly ranked restaurants. Admittedly a single meal is not sufficient to rank a restaurant on a scale of one to twenty. At the same time my wife and I have ordered different dishes, shared them and took extensive notes after the meals. I would like to share my overall impressions with egullet members. Our overall impression is quite positive. So below are a ranking of these rest. along with a brief paragraph. I would be happy to give more details for specific places if you are planning a meal there. Of course the rankings are subjective and express our evaluation of the food only. My wife and I gave these rankings separetely and then compared notes. Please note that I am not a liberal grader. For purposes of comparison I would rank the following sample of restaurants as following:

French Laundry18

Arpege 18.5

L'Ambroisie19.5

El Bulli18

Chateauvieux19

Gagnaire19

La Regalade16.5

Veyrat in 2002 13

Zuberoa18.5

Daniel16.5

Raco de con Fabes19

Don Alfonso in 200216

This is just to give you an idea whether or not your taste differs greatly from mine.

VENEZIA:

Perbellini: A very talented and equally gracious chef who excelled in seafood and desserts. He does not change the natural flavors too much and likes to achieve an overall harmony with a few ingredients that blend well. His fish soup was a masterpiece. My Grade:17 Linda:18

Le Calandre: As far as talent goes he is like a young John McEnroe. But he is very modest and friendly--as Perbellini he speaks good French. I hope he does not evolve in the direction of tubes/cubes/foams, etc. Some of the desserts like raw cauliflower with a chocolate crust was utterly silly. His licorice risotto and his squab with foie gras and apples should merit 20. Lets see how he will evolve. My Grade: 17.5 Linda: 18

Al Pompiere: An outstanding trattoria. The best selection of charcuterie I have ever seen, and they excel in meat. Despite the street corner mom and pop appearance the cooking is very serious here and they are also friendly. Best of both world. My Grade:17 Linda:17

LOMBARDY:

Lio Pellegrini A Tuscan rest. in Bergamo bassa. Good and solid cooking. I found the turbot less than perfectly fresh. Otherwise esp. shellfish preparations(in pasta or otherwise) were stellar. My Grade: 14.5 Linda:16

Sant Ambroeus A solid trattoria in Bergamo alta. Consistent and delivers without a surprise. My Grade:13 Linda:13

Villa Fiordaliso In Gardone Riviera. It is hard to believe that the chef is under 30. Everything comes together: intense taste, harmony, aesthetics and intelligent combinations designed to improve the focus not to stun. Only the desserts are good but not great. My Grade:18 Linda:19

Cracco Peck: The chef is very daring and ingredients really sing such as the suckling pig from Siena. Sometimes his combinations do not work such as coffee flavored pasta with sea urchin. Other times unusual combinations did work. It feels like the type of place some reference will help as this is Milano. My Grade:16.5 Linda:17.5

Miramonte L'Altro: Very solid French technique. But sometimes the technique gets the upperhand over the clear taste and things become a bit too complex. The chef is a very nice person. My Grade:16.5 Linda:17

Carpaccio: A very impressive trattoria in Milano. Very fresh ingredients and both fish and meat dishes are very good. Pastas and desserts are fine. My Grade: 15

EMILIA ROMAGNA

Parizzi: Good cooking but they do not seem to have made their mind about tradional versus modern style. Maybe they are in a transition process. Pastas are top notch. My Grade: 14.5 Linda:14

Giusti: Feels like eating home with only 4 tables and open only for lunch. Many dishes there reminded me of my grandma's cooking(esp. the fried gnocco) but I grew up in Istanbul and did not have pork then. I highly recommend this place for what it is. My Grade:15 Linda:15

TUSCANY

Gambero Rosso:Strange for the location but the chef excels in meat, esp game, rather than fish. I did not think even a light curry sauce as he prepared went well with rouget. But his good dishes are complex, yet retain an overall simplicity and clarity that the best Italian chefs are capable of achieving. The chef/owner is a thoughtful, introspective person and his cooking reflects these qualities. I had the impression here that if they get to know you better, they will deliver even better. My Grade:17 Linda:17.5

L'Oca Bianca: An upscale fish shack in Viareggio. They are more successful in simple dishes. They had a fair price for superbly prepared(Catalan Style) langouste or aragosta. My Grade:15 Linda:14.5

Martinatica: Another nice surprise I would not have known without eGullet(Thanks to Robert Brown). The home style cooking is actually more sophisticated than things look once you think about the dishes. Had the langoustine been fresher, I would have given a higher grade. Home made sorbets were outstanding by the way. My Grade:15 Linda:15

Botteganova: Some people may find some of the combinations too rich here but dishes are never fussy. Everything we had here, including desserts satisfied both the taste buds and the brain. The co/owner and sommelier had many valuable suggestions and his ethical standards were impeccable. My Grade:17 Linda:17

Lorenzo: Together with Fiordaliso Lorenzo delivered 2 of the world class meals we have had in Italy. Truly fresh fish and shellfish was prepared in a deceptively simple way which is clearly not simple and the product of painstaking research. There was not a single missed beat. Desserts were good but perhaps not on par with a place like Perbellini. There is an amazing wine list with most rare Italian wines at high prices. The sommelier Henri is a very friendly and hard working person. My Grade:18 Linda:18.5

I hope this information is useful. Besides the food we thought that Parma and Lucca(not typical tourist destinations) are wonderful places to visit and besides the architecture we were most impressed by the natural grace displayed by the inhabitants without a trace of contrived or phony niceness.

Vedat Milor

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You are my hero. More so for taking a position on what is good and what is bad and using scores to show how things relate to each other. It exonerates you from any possible disagreement we could have on the merits :biggrin:. Otherwise, I need to study that list before I comment. Bravo.

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vmilor,

Welcome home.

As for your ranking of restaurants in France, Spain and the States, I am in complete agreement with your assessments except for French Laundry.

How would you compare the state of cuisine in Italy as compared to France and Spain?

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vmilor,

Welcome home.

As for your ranking of restaurants in France, Spain and the States, I am in complete agreement with your assessments except for French Laundry.

How would you compare the state of cuisine in Italy as compared to France and Spain?

Do you think the French Laundry is too high or too low?

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Vmilor,

Thanks for the outstanding (and current!) information.

Can you tell us something about your scoring system? How do you break it down.

I have heard rave reviews from friends about Villa Fiordaliso, but have not had the good fortune to eat there yet. I will go for sure in April.

coffee flavored pasta with sea urchin

Who said they are not experimenting with pasta in Italy? Stuck on the old ingredients something like that.

Edited by Craig Camp (log)
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Vedat - Have you eaten in Northern Italy before? Places like del Pescatore, Ai Sorriso etc.? If so, how do the better places on this trip compare? Also, as to your two 18 pointers, which puts them in fine company on your list of world class restaurants, what is it that they are doing differently then a place like Gambero Rosso, which is a long time favorite with Francophiles? Is it just a more contemporary approach, or have they actually moved the yardsticks down the field?

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Craig: In my scoring system 18 or higher is akin to 3 stars Michelin and 16.5 to 17.5 is 2 stars. Before giving the rankings we have categorized all dishes(like red meat, game, seafood pasta, risotto, etc) and then ranked them a ?(bad), OK, one, two and three stars. Then we were able to say that of the 5 squabs the one we had at Le Calandre was the only 3stars, the best game we have had in the trip, etc. Of course my wife and I partly agreed, partly disagreed. We also took into account the overall harmony and balance over the course of the meal, esp. when we ordered the menu degustation. Of course we gauge things against the background of our favorite restaurants from which I picked out an arbitrary sample and graded them to give the reader an idea about my taste. Now 2 caveats. One is that I am on much firmer grounds when I rank a L'Ambroisie or French Laundry or Arpege as I have frequented these restaurants many times over the years. Based on one meal this is the best I can do here. If past experience is a guide, were I to revisit the same places several times over the coming years and everything else staying the same(which is not realistic), rankings could change slightly(+ and - 1) and perhaps more northbound than southbound as the chef and I will get to know each other and I will improve my ordering strategy. Second, sheer pleasure from tasty food and rankings may not coincide. For instance in places like Giusti or Cesare(near Alba) one can eat very well and feel ecstasic after the meal. However, to declare what is basically an upscale home cooking with top ingredients to be among the top 10 restaurants in the world is a hectic and, in my opinion, a false statement. One has to take other components of fine dining into account such as superior technique, research that went into the dish, intelligent combinations, focus and harmony, etc. Thus when I judge Giusti to be 15 (one stars level) and Miramonte 16.5(2 stars) I am not saying that I will always prefer to dine in the latter over the former. This depends on my mood for the day and appetite at the time. So I do not perceive any contradiction saying that if I have 5 days in Italy I will not necessarily choose the 5 highest ranked places in my list but I will still consider the top 5 to be objectively at a higher plane than the bottom 5.

Lizzie: FL for me is a great rest. and 18 is very high. There is only one other rest. in New York where I had 3 stars meals, that was Lespinasse in 95(I had 5 or so meals) under a Swiss chef(Gray or Gary Kunz?). Does anybody know what happened to him? Anyway, if you want we can pursue the FL issue privately as I have some ideas about what I would like to see him achieve to be ranked among the 5 to 10 very very top places in the world.

Comparing Italy versus France and Spain: I do not have new wisdom to add and concur with the judgment of many Italian chefs I have spoken. Both in wine and cuisine and at the very high end it is France. Italy (and some parts of Spain) are very very strong in terms of the median, i.e. the general quality is very high and chances are that in northern Spain and in most but the most touristic places in Italy it would take a special effort to eat badly. :smile: As to the top level, I will not put my money that in 5 years a sensual Redigaffi will unseat the old good Cheval Blanc. But I will put my money that there will be a handful of chefs in Italy(the likes of Le Calandre, Perbellini, Fiordaliso, Cracco, perhaps La Peca that I could not try, and the new ones in the wings) which will emerge as contenders for the very best,i.e contenders with the very best in France, Spain and Switerland. This is because I did not see any personal complex on the part of most Italian chefs to learn from others and visit temples of excellence in other countries. They are very openminded and in an experimental mood. To me deepdown it proves self-confidence and respect for their background.

Steve: No I have not tried the two 3 stars in Italy you mentioned, because of what I read in these columns. Maybe I should have....In Gambero Rosso ( which deserves its 2 stars) I found a solid chef and he confessed what I was suspecting, i.e. he is not traveling much to eat in other places, he seems to have somewhat of an aversion to this. Consequently it is like having dinner in a time tested 2 stars in Paris: traditional but not quite Taillevent or Ducasse-Paris. I had one super dish there though which was called moufflon, which is a cross between wild goat and sheep I believe. The way he combined flavors and textures in that dish and the overall flavor was stunning. I found his curry with the delicate rouget and red wine beurre blanc with daurade to be a bit overpowering and did not bring out the freshness and sweet/saline flavors in these fish dishes. The very best traditional French chefs have a knack in making simple fish dishes more complex WITHOUT disturbing its natural flavor. This must be hard to do and Tom Keller in FL knows how to achieve this difficult balance too. Pierangelini is half notch below given these criteria.

Lorenzo and Fiordaliso are very different. The former is really a seafood restaurant and the chef who is from Naples is doing just this, i.e. enhance the natural sweetness of super fresh seafood without losing clarity and adding some extra touch which looks simple but must have been the result of intelligent hard work. As an analogy take the tomato sorbet in FL again which(if I remember correctly you liked very much and so do I). It looks simple but it is divine, is not it? Lorenzo does similar things. For example he prepared what Keller calls eggplant caviar with sole fish appetizer. Being Turkish I am eggplant expert! and his was divine and lifted the sole fish which I consider the blandest of white meat fishes to a higher plane. This is the general philosophy in the place and they are very very consistent. The owner Lorenzo who is a distinguished looking man possibly in his 60s works the hardest and nothing seems to escape the guy's gaze. Must be hard to work under him. They were very full in february and from the wines people ordered I thought they have a very wealthy clientele. We were next to last and we chatted little bit with Lorenzo( in French). I asked him why he works so hard kidding him that he must be as wealthy as the Agnellis given his wine pricing. He answered seriously saying that he has a repeat and very exacting, demanding clientele and they will not let him rest on his laurels. Interesting.

Fiordaliso is different. It is a beautiful historical villa facing the lake Gardone. I could not learn about the chef' background, except that he is 28 years old. He seemed to have mastered the French technique of cooking ingredients separetely and to perfection and making the whole thing look easy and simple on the plate. His presentations are beautiful but one gets the impresssion that he will not sacrifice the taste to pure aesthetics. He is not afraid of roasting/caramelizing a whole garlic when it goes so well with the local eel. He can also get very refined and prepare an ethereal vanilla infused foam to ladle over barely steamed exquisite shellfish from Adriatic and the sauce immediately dissolves and imparts a subtle yet real touch to the dish(unlike Veyrat and some Adria imitators who attempt to stun the uninitiated with their cubes and tubes!). His risotto is as chewy/flavorful as it gets and his inclusion of saffron brings the best in the sea urchins rather than drowning the little monster(I once stepped on them and do not recommend :smile: ). Even a simple chitarra(guitar strings I believe) pasta dish with anchovies become a masterpieca as the chef presents the fresh fat anchovies like in a toast encased by quasi-transparent croutons and he ties everything together by very intellinent use of what he calls "aioli". I am writing all this in my office without my notes but the sheer fact that I am able to remember details is a testimony to Camanini's cuisine. I am unable to remember as many details in Gambero Rosso.

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  • 2 years later...

Just returned from a 14 day eating tour of Northern Italy.

It was my intention to describe and rate every dish we ate at every restaurant.I had a notebook which I used to record each meal dish by dish.

But after several days my ambition began to fade.Most dishes were listed on the menus in Italian, with words unknown to me and the waiters hurried explanations of what we were being served were delivered in fractured English, - the upshot being that I was hard-pressed to record the dishes in any intelligible way, lost my energy , and am therefore unable to deliver a reasonably intelligent review of exactly what we wolfed down.

So in lieu of my original plan, I am simply going to rate each restaurant with a letter from A to F and let it go at that. I realize that this wont be of much use to anyone planning a trip to some of the same locations, but I plead extenuating circumstances: my age (83)- my level of energy is not quite what it once was. :rolleyes:

I will be glad to answer any questions as to locations and food details as best I can, scrounging up what I can from my notebook and memory.

The following are the restaurants in the order in which we went.

Villa Crespi A

Da Vittorio (a disappointment) B

Arquade B+

Il Rigoletto (Bravo, Francesco!) A+

Dal Pescatore B+

Dal Pescatore B+

Al Pompiere (Bravo, Vedat!) A

Le Calandre A+

Metropole Hotel (Obviously a story goes with this disaster) F

Trattoria Laguna (shellfish outstanding, but logistics of getting and returning too difficult to make this joint worthwhile- so no rating)

Alle Testiere A

La Peca (One fantastic dish, one mediocre, one inedible, ) B-

Villa Fiordaliso C

Al Soriso (cant imagine why there are doubters among you) A+

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Cy,

it sounds like you had a great trip and the list is impressive. Clearly :wink: I do have a few questions. After all a few of us have been eagerly waiting for you to get back!

You say you were disappointed from Da Vittorio and dal Pescatore also seems to not have completely satisfied you. Any particular reason for that?

You also have a few "young guns" of Italian cuisine there: Calandre, Arquade, Villa Crespi. How did you find them? Did you get the impression that there's a common thread uniting the cuisine of these three?

And last but not least:please tell us the story of the Metropole Hotel, I'd love to hear that :smile: .

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Hi Alberto

Da Vitorrio got very lavish praise from Robert Brown and even more so from Vedat Milor, so I was expecting the ultimate in gastronomy.First mistake was declining the all shellfish dinner. It was Sunday, I was leary about seafood on a Sunday and I wanted to sample the veal cheeks and suckling pig. So we ordered the tasting menu.Looking at my partially illegible notes, I see that I gave one amuse a D , it was a little hot dog with mustard and the second one a C-, it was a tiny grilled cheese sandwich.Later dishes I see I gave a B, a C, a B+ a B and a B+. Veal cheeks were B+ and suckling pig was a B. One outstanding dish was a crayfish with a great sauce. The other seafood items were all A. I advise anyone who goes there to order the seafood dinner for two, forget the rest of the menu, even on a Sunday.

Dal Pescatore I expected perfection (which we got at Il Rigoletto, Al Sorisoand Le Calandre) and which I remembered from our previous visit there. but it wasnt to be. Two B dishes the first night(veal liver with mushrooms and soup with snails and truffles). One C dish the second night, sea bass and vegetables and peppers, very tough.

Le Calandre I got from everybody and his brother. Arquade I got from Francesco who pointed out to me that it had just been elevated from one star to two. Villa Crespi was praised highly by one of your predecessors as Forum Host, a couple years ago, either Craig Camp or Bill Klapp, I forget which, and highly rated by Gambero Rosso.Since we flew into Malpensa and were bypassing Milan, Lake Orta was a perfect first night stop, onlya 45 minute drive. A great dinner there, I recommend that scheduling idea to anyone flying to Malpensa from the U.S None of those three chefs made an appearance, I didnt know they were young, if their cuisine had a common thread it wasnt noticeable to me

Now the Metropole.Vedat Milor told me that Luca, the co-owner of Alle Testiere, had told him that he hottest hotel restaurant in Venice was at the Metropole He takes his own family there on special occasions. Who would know better than Luca?Since it was a Sunday night, with few joints open, this was the obvious place to go.Disastro! Crazy, tasteless, inedible food combinations, one course worse than the other. When we still had three courses to go, we called it quits. I told Luca about this when we went to Alle Testiere two nights later. He was very apologetic, said he had only been there once, some time previously and could.nt explain why we had run into such bad luck.Time passes, it was an aggravation then; today it is only a memory. :rolleyes:

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Cy, I should live so long, let alone be galavanting around Italy dining at virtually a different place each night. But did you get the e-mail I sent you at the Villa Crespi in which I told you that I had ordered a few days earlier the seafood tasting menu at da Vittorio? I'm trying to write it up right now without the benefit of notes.

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Cy, I should live so long, let alone be galavanting around Italy dining at virtually a different place each night. But did you get the e-mail I sent you at the Villa Crespi in which I told you that I had ordered a few days earlier the seafood tasting menu at da Vittorio? I'm trying to write it up right now without the benefit of notes.

Cy,

welcome back. I am happy to read that it seems to have been a positive experience overall. Anyway, egoistically, I would like to hear some more details about Arquade and Il Rigoletto because I am the one who insisted on them while at the same time I am curious about Villa Crespi because it is one of those restaurants that many in Italy seem to be talking about.

Francesco

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Cy,

Thanks for sharing your conclusions. I am not surprised about Dal Pescatore as we had a fine but not outstanding meal there last time and it is a good-solid restaurant. I had recently put a post in gastroville on Da Vittorio with shellfish specials but I had found the veal cheek very very good too. I should put Villa Crespi and Al Soriso on top of my wish list now. I am also sorry about the Metropole fiasco--apparently Giardinetto which I found to be very very good is open on sundays. I am curious about the following:

1. Logistics aside how would you rate Trattoria Laguna? How would you compare it with Alle Testiere? If you strongly recommend it, I would go out of my way and put up with the logistics next time I am there.

2. I am sad to hear about Fiordaliso. Do you know if the chef changed? They had a very good shellfish plate with vanilla infused seafood broth, some good sea urchin risotto, outstanding preparation of grilled eel with fennel and garlic, chic and tasty "guitar string" pasta with anchovy, etc. What did you have there?

It is difficult to be back after Italy, is not it?

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Hi Vedat:

I can certainly put the weight of my opinion, for whatever its worth, behind your decision to put Villa Crespi and Al Soriso, particularly the latter, on your wish list. But dont forget Il Rigoletto, a genuine A+ in my book. Its located in Reggiolo, 29 kilometers south of Verona, and most certainly worth the driving effort. Very complicated drive and hard to find- we took a taxi.

Villa Fiordaliso. I dont know if the chef changed.. My inadequate and illegible notes show we had the tasters menu.Started with spiny lobster with aubergine sauce plus gaspacho in a little bottle, I rated it A. Next ,risotto with sea urchins. The rice was too heavy and the sauce unimpressive. I gave it a C. Next, turbot with octopus in some sort of green sauce, I rated it C. Next a cheese fondue with asparagus, I gave it C Next, lamb with prunes. I gave it B. Service was extremely slow, some sort of glitch in the kitchen. So overall a disappointment.

Trattoria Laguna. I hesitate to endorse it too fully, because I wouldnt want to see you have to put up with the logistics. A 40 minute ride on an overcrowded vaporetto, then the bus hidden from sight and we missed it, then a long taxi ride, worse problems on the return, we were delivered to the dock an hour too early and had to sit and freeze,etc. Nothing is worth all that.The shellfish was excellent, one dish after another, until we finally had to cry uncle. So we never got to the fish main course, just a succession of shellfish dishes, all delicious but not any different from the same shellfish we had at Corte Sconte, for example, and of course at Alle Testiere. Strictly on a taste basis I would say its the close to Alle Testiere, but positively not worth the inconvenience.

Yes, its difficult to be back from Italy!! Have to endure local restaurants with visions of Italy dishes dancing in our heads. Life is TOUGH!

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Hi Francesco. Thanks for your post.

Looking at my again inadequate and illegible notes on Arquadeand Rigoletto, I see the following:

Arquade.Tasters menu.First two amuses, salmon plus mozarella, A, and Tuna tartare ,also A.First course tomato with bread (dont know what I actually wrote there!) I gave it a B+.Next came oysters and sardines . I gave it A.Then an elixir of tomato, tempura batterwith toast, scampi and veggies.I gave it A.Next bean soup with stuffed squid and kidneys, another A.Then came lobster ravioli with olives and pesto in a potato sauce, another A.But then came breast of duck, honey and yogurt mousse . I gave it a C.Then a ricotto cheese pie plus some illegible items, I gave it B. Then a meringue nut cake, an A.So overall what? I chose B+, maybe should be A-.

Now Rigoletto. Perfection!Tasters menu. First shrimp, plus foie gras,. zuchini and cream of pine nut soup. I gave it A+ Then roasted tuna on cream of tuna(?) fish soup, tomatoes, capers, oil of anchovies.I gave it A.Then baby squid with a couple of illegible items and poached (?) truffles. Another A. Then lasagna with fresh fish and shellfish(?). Another A.Then artichoke ravioli with cheese soup, oysters and anchovies. An A+. Then mullet with zucchini ,scallops and squid An A. Then pigeon, foie gras, chestnut(next word illegible) and apples. Another A. I didnt record the desserts, I was floating on a cloud of gastonomy.

Rigoletto not easy to get to or find at night. But worth anything .I paid a taxi 100 euros to take us there from Verona, wait for us and then take us back.It was worth it! Thanks for calling this joint to my attention ,Francesco. It is every bit as good as my other A+s, Al Soriso and Le Calandre.

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Francesco, I forgot to reply to your question about Villa Crespi.

Rather than describe each dish - my energy level after all this typing is fizzling out, I will just summarize as follows:

Tasters menu.

Two amuses, both rate A.

First and second courses I gave A.Third course B+,fourth course A and dessert A.

Tomorrow when I am re-energized I will try to be more helpfu, by desribing-briefly- each dish.

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Here is what we had at Villa Crespi: Tasting menu 74 euros My writing partly illegible.

First amuse was a light ricotta cheese with anchovy and tomato. Rating A

Second amuse was tartare of salmon,crusted with quail egg, with caviar and an herb sauce. Rating A+

First course squid, dried roe(?)buffalo fresh cheese(?) intelligible word describing the sauce.Rating A

Second course was risotto with prawns in a lemon sauce. Rating A

Third course was sea bass, chestnut puree plus black truffles,and fried eels. Rating B+.

Fourth course was seared pigeon, broccoli, fruit compote.Rating A

Palate clearer was orange-flavored cold eggnog Rating A

Dessert was a creamy concoction in a heavenly sauce (thats all my notes say) Rating A.

Pretty impressive, eh Francesco? Try it for yourself and see if you dont agree with me.

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Here is what we had at Villa Crespi: Tasting menu 74 euros My writing partly illegible.

First amuse was a light ricotta cheese with anchovy and tomato. Rating A

Second amuse was tartare of salmon,crusted with quail egg, with caviar and an herb sauce. Rating A+

First course squid, dried roe(?)buffalo fresh cheese(?) intelligible word describing the sauce.Rating A

Second course was risotto with prawns in a lemon sauce. Rating A

Third course was sea bass, chestnut puree plus black truffles,and fried eels. Rating B+.

Fourth course was seared pigeon, broccoli, fruit compote.Rating A

Palate clearer was orange-flavored cold eggnog Rating A

Dessert was a creamy concoction in a heavenly sauce (thats all my notes say) Rating A.

Pretty impressive, eh Francesco? Try it for yourself and see if you dont agree with me.

Cy,

I wish I could do what you've just done in Italy! Thank you for the additional details: incidentally, I checked Il Rigoletto's web site and it looks like the exact same menu you had is described online so as soon as I get a chance, I will try to fill in some of the gaps with the dishes' names and translate them in English.

Villa Crespi's ascent as one of the elite restaurants in Italy has been meteoric to say the least and I was curious to see what a non-Italian made of it. Your report confirms that the chef can hold his own against the best the country can offer, which is clearly very good news.

Thank you again.

Francesco

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.... Now the Metropole.Vedat Milor told me that Luca, the co-owner of Alle Testiere, had told him that he hottest hotel restaurant in Venice was at the Metropole He takes his own family there on special occasions. Who would know better than Luca?Since it was a Sunday night, with few joints open, this  was the obvious place to go.Disastro! Crazy, tasteless, inedible food combinations, one course worse than the other. When we still had three courses to go, we called it quits. I told Luca about this when we went to Alle Testiere two nights later. He was very apologetic, said he had only been there once, some time previously and could.nt explain why we had run into such bad luck.Time passes, it was an aggravation then; today it is only a memory. :rolleyes:

I almost forgot. This is interesting because the chef at the Metropole is Corrado Fasolato who used to cook at La Siriola in Val Badia, is always tauted as one of the preeminent young chefs in Italy and is clearly the hotel's attempt to create a serious gastronomic restaurant in Venice, just like La Pergola in Rome. I looked at the menus posted online and they read like a menu you could find at Le Calandre. Obviously Cy thought the results were really different!

Francesco

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Cy,

Do you also mind telling us some more on Soriso? it was not on my radar screen but after your A+ i can change my mind.

Did you have the squab main course at Le Calandre? They do this dish very well but last time they had an Asian inspired preparation which i liked less.

May i also request the address of Rigoletto?

Vedat

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Vedat:

Al Soriso was our last night of the trip. As I stated previously, my energy level for transcribing details of our meals had run down considerably long before that.So my notes on Al Soriso are not all they could be- not that the notes of other restaurants were any better.

But here is what my notes show:Tasters menu 125 euros. Reasonable. Most inexpensive wine on the list was 60 euros. Much higher than anyplace on the trip

Amuse: a tomato mousse with basil sauce. A solid mousse, not a flimsy one.Wonderful start to the dinner. I gave it A

First course: Foie gras with a small scoop of peanut ice cream plus onions and fresh peach. Sounds crazy but it was heavenly.This I gave A+

Second course:Shrimp in a sauce made from cream of peas plus anchovies. Another A.

Third course:Small green raviolis with cheese and mayonaise sort of sauce.Marvellous dish. An A.

Fourth course pigeon- but here my notes die out, only the letter A remains.I'm trying to remember the nature of the dish, but all that comes back to me is that we loved it. Sorry I cant be more helpful.But with that woman chef, wife of the owner, in the kitchen, everything is absolutely top class, its impossible to go wrong.

Before dessert they served a glass of sherry, hit the spot perfectly. We had several mind-numbing desserts, but my mind is blank , except that I remember that we floated out of there on a cloud.

This is the second time we were there, first time in 2002. Second times are almost invariably a let-down , but not for this joint., this time was equal to or better than the first.

I know this is not the kind of review you or Robert Brown or Degusto would give. All I can do is apologize. You have been so helpful to me and I am unable to reciprocate in kind.How about if I guarantee to pay for your dinner there if you find it to deserve less than an A rating?

At Le Calandre we got one of the tasters menus so the pigeon dish was small ,not a so-called main course.My memory of it has faded but the description of it on the menu is as follows:Piccione di Sante arrosito con le sue frattaglie, tarturo nero, radicchi di campo e crema forte di pere. I am drawing a blank on it, but I gave it an A, (as I did everthing else they served.)

Il Rigoletto is in Reggiolo, 29 kilometers due south of Verona. The Verona taxi driver had some difficulty finding it. The exact address is on their website.If you cant find it on the web,let me know, I will get it for you.

By the way, the best ravioli on the entire trip was at Al Pompiere, never have tasted anything to match it. I have you to thank for that dinner, never would have known the place existed without your recommendation.

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