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francesco

Michelin guide 2003 - Italy

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According to the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, the three stars for this year are

Sorriso - Soriso (Piedmont)

Il Pescatore - Canneto sull' Oglio (Lombardy)

Le Calandre - Rubano (Veneto) (new three star restaurant)

There are also three new two-star restaurants: Flipot (Torre Pellice - Piedmont), Sadler (Milan), Mulinazzo (Villafrati - Sicily).

I am not aware of any demotions from 2 to 1 star but there may be as the newsfeed was fairly vague.

Francesco

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Francesco, do you know Le Calandre or Flipot. The latter is on my list for this summer. Yet, I have not set eyes on any mention of Le Calandre. It is brand new to me because I have not been planning any trip to the Veneto. I will have to look it up. I hope it's better than the meals I have had at the two other three-star restaurants.

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Robert,

I had one experience at Il Flipot and it was very good: it isn't incredibly creative but it isn't staunchly traditional either, their cuisine is a sophisticated take on the local mountain region tradition which is sometimes surprising (for example he likes to use a special kind of hay called "maggengo" hay in his dishes, personally I have never seen hay used as food anywhere else). At the time I though the restaurant was very undervalued at just one michelin star. However, recently I have heard less-enthusiastic-than-usual reports on the restaurant both from the other guides and from people whose judgement I trust. Still, most people rank it consistently as one of the top 3 in Piedmont

As far as Le Calandre is concerned, I have to say I've never been: its a bit far from where I come from (Liguria). According to all reports, the cuisine is much more creative than any of the other three stars and most other restaurants in Italy (the chef, Massimiliano Alajmo is probably one of the youngest 3 stars ever). Michelin seems to like the restaurant more than the other guides and if this is understandable in the Espresso guide case (which is a bastion of tradition), it is more puzzling in the case of Gambero Rosso (which is happy to encourage creativity). In the end, I suppose that the fact that the cuisine is perhaps closest to "French" creative cuisine than any other top restaurant in Italy, explains their success with Michelin: it's probably not a coincidence that they are one of very few restaurants in Italy which is also a member of Relais Gourmand.

They have a web site:

Le Calandre

A sample menu is only available in the Italian version of the site: it does look interesting. All in all I'd definitively give it a try.

I find it interesting that while in all other countries I am familiar with (UK and France) Michelin seems to be in broad agreement with the other local guides as to which restaurants are at the top, in Italy there is ample disagreement. Il Pescatore is the only place that gets mentioned in the top tier in all guides (but none of the others put is at the very top) and the other two are not considered better than, say, 20 other restaurants. My personal opinion is that given the standards in France, the lack of 3 stars to Pinchiorri, Vissani and Gambero Rosso is a scandal (for that matter, I find that only 3 restaurants with 3 stars is a scandal as well).

Francesco

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There is no question that I am going to try Le Calandre in 2003. The menu is fantastic, and I doubt that there is a restaurant in the world where you could drink better in the $50 to $100 range. Unbelievable prices, even for Italy. Even if the food does not live up to expectations, at least I'll drink well.

BTW, for a three star, their prices are remarkably reasonable. Any hint that they will now inflate?

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In the 2003 L'Espresso Ristoranti d'Italia, the highest rated restaurant is Vissani with 19. Then Enotecha Pinchiorri, Gambero Rosso and La Pergola all get 18.5. Calandre doesn't show up until they list 18 point restaurants of which it shares that category with Dal Pescatore. Then the drop off is to 17 where there are 6 restaurants listed with the only one I'm not familiar with being Perbellini in a place called a Isola Rizza. Flipot and Mulinazzo both get 16.5 and Sadler gets 15. Now who should we trust here?

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There is no question that I am going to try Le Calandre in 2003.  The menu is fantastic, and I doubt that there is a restaurant in the world where you could drink better in the $50 to $100 range.  Unbelievable prices, even for Italy.  Even if the food does not live up to expectations, at least I'll drink well.

BTW, for a three star, their prices are remarkably reasonable.  Any hint that they will now inflate?

Mogsob,

I have no idea with regard to prices, they might raise them. However, I would have conjectured that other places such as Guido and Gambero Rosso would have even lower prices.

The "scary" thing is that Massimiliano Alajmo is even younger that I thought: he's just 28! Is this the absolute record for Michelin 3 stars? (I thought that the record was Jacques Lameloise who got his 3 stars when he was 29).

Francesco

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Le Calendre is an odd choice for 3 stars. I was in the Veneto about 2 years ago, and didn't try it because the Gambero Rosso guide seemed to positively dislike it, I think that because of some problem, they didn't even give it a numerical rating. Howerve, I don't know what they said in their most recent guide.

Francesco -- I have to disagree with you regarding the scandal regarding not giving 2 stars to the 3 restaurants that you name. I've eaten at Enoteca Pinchiorri a number of times and would consider it to be no more than a middling to upper middling 2 star restaurant in France. As you know, the chef is in fact French. I used to go because their ultimately great wine list used to be reasonably priced. Unfortunately this is no longer the case. I haven't been to Vissani, but everyone that I know who has been there has actively disliked it. As for Gambero Rosso, I recall that in a recent post, you yourself stated that it was not a restaurant that you particularly liked. In my view, Il Pescatore, where I have eaten once, is marginal as a 3 star restaurant.

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Our one meal (last year) at Dal Pescatore was singularly disappointing and other highly touted Michelin restaurants, at least when they seem to be trying to imitate the French, have left us at a loss to understand what drives the Michelin inspectors. For example, we had fussy, lost meals at both Vissani and Marchesi (although the physical plant and the rooms at Erbusco were spectacular). We always have loved Al Sorriso and were delighted when it earned its third star, but on a visit in October of this year, our meal, while excellent, was not on a par with three star experiences we have had in the best of the French examples of same. Perhaps our favorite three star food in Italy has been at Don Alfonso (when it still had three stars). While the restaurant has Michelin starred elegance and style, the food at Don Alfonso is very much a creature of its region and the ingredients in every dish are among the best we've encountered in Italy (especially anything made with eggplant in the summer or creations based upon their farm grown tomatoes).

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The one meal I had at Gambero Rosso 5-1/2 years ago would have delighted any experienced diner at the top echelon of restaurants in France. I would love to return. I'm with the consensus on Dal Pescatore. The cooking was overly-studied, which is the same as lacking heart and soul. Having the same reaction as Marcus, I never wanted to return to Enoteca Pinchiorri after dining there in 1982. I will have to go to Le Calendre this year, I suppose and hit several fancy restaurants in the Veneto, southern Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna that I have yet to dine in. For now Gambero Rosso, Da Guido and Miramonte l'Altro remain my favorites.

In the meantime has anyone out there been to these restaurants yet to be part of my life's experiences?:

Da Vittorio in Bergamo

Il Desco in Verona

Ambasciata in Quistello

Locanda Solaroia in Castel Guelfo di Bologna

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Our one visit to Il Desco was too long ago to provide an accurate frame of reference. We dined (and stayed) at Locanda Solarola last year and enjoyed it. I'm a bit fuzzy on the food, although I remember an excellent pasta. The service was very charming, mostly in the person of the Signora. The highlight was her recommendation of a Pinot Nero "Sanct Valentin" from the St. Michele-Appiano coop in the Alto Aldige of which we previously were unaware. This reserve wine and several reserve whites under the same name are extraordinary (nearly worth the visit to a restaurant that stocks them). I should mention that, given the Locanda's rather remote location from the town of Castel Guelfo and lack of signage from the Autostrada, exact directions in advance are a must.

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Robert

I am actually planning a couple of (very delayed) reports on some of those restaurants. Been to Il Desco (reports to come) twice in the past 18 months and enjoyed it both times but its not quite on a par with Miramonte or La Pergola (reports to come). The service is wonderful, very friendly and gracious, and the desserts were excellent. Some of the dishes hit great heights but others were a lot less memorable. I would probably go to a some of the excellent but more simple places in Verona such as Tre Marchetti or Botega Del Vino.

Da Vittorio is for me a good but very overpriced restaurant. Its emphasis is on fish and sometimes it can turn out very good dishes, particularly the risottos and the antipasti, but my favourtite in Bergamo is Lio Pelligrini. There is a website but I cannot remember the exact details, however the restaurant is wonderful. This gets a higher rating in Gambero Rosso than Da Vittorio (87 to 83 I think or something like that) but no Michelin stars and it is not aiming for any. There are no incidentals and the food is very traditional. A recent visit saw a wonderful mixed salad of raw fish, followed by a textbook rendition of papardelle and hare sauce, beautifully fresh simple fish, and then a delightful fruit tart. All very fresh, very simple and very good. The simplicity was in some ways misleading as the dishes do rquire a strong understanding of the fundamentals of Italian cooking and this kitchen delivered for me a wonderful meal. My Italian friends much prefer Lio Pelligrini as it is more relaxed, and cooks their favourite dishes extremely well. However if you want or need a more elaborate meal with a different feel and a definite Michelin context then Da Vittorio would be a better choice. The food however for me is better at Lio Pellegrini and better value (although certainly not cheap).

Hope this helps

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other highly touted Michelin restaurants, at least when they seem to be trying to imitate the French, have left us at a loss to understand what drives the Michelin inspectors.

Peter, we definately agree here. I have been to Erbusco (twice) and Abbietegrasso and feel that this is bad French rather than spectacular Italian but, apart from you, nobody seems to agree with me!

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Apparently Aimo e Nadia in Milano lost a star and is now only one star. My experience with Michelin is that I do not always agree with them in promotions but agree in demotions(though they are slow in reacting). Also Giardino di Felicin at Monforte d'Alba is no more starred. There may be others but I have only checked places we may visit in end February.

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Francesco, do you know Le Calandre or Flipot. The latter is on my list for this summer. Yet, I have not set eyes on any mention of Le Calandre. It is brand new to me because I have not been planning any trip to the Veneto. I will have to look it up. I hope it's better than the meals I have had at the two other three-star restaurants

Robert, do not miss Flipot. It just received a second star, and if I were passing them out, probably would have received a third. It has an incredible young chef, one of Italy's finest. Torre Pellice is more or less where the pavement dead ends into the French Alps (or the "Freedom Alps", as we now refer to them in the U. S.!). The menu is seasonal, and created from whatever can be picked from the hillsides and fished out of the local streams. Trout and fresh-water crayfish are often featured, sometimes together. In spring and early summer, lavender flavors many dishes, including one of the most remarkable desserts I have ever tasted, lavender creme brulee! This is not, by the way, some over-the-top effort to impress Michelin-the chef has dozens of such original dishes up his sleeve, all executed to perfection. The Piemontese roots are still there, but with a totally unique individual and local spin. A great, reasonably priced wine list and a beautiful, understated dining room with seamless service. Do not miss it. We have a home in Neive, about an hour away, and I never have trouble getting a crowd of our Italian friends to pile into cars and make the run for Sunday lunch. Reservations are essential, and they have a great website. Enjoy!


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Bill, welcome to eGullet. It's great to hear from someone who has a house in Piemonte. It's where I would be if I weren't where I am in terms of a vacation home. I hope you will share your dining experiences in the region. I know it well, but still have several stones to unturn.

I need more opinions on Flipot. Two posters were not enamored of their meals there recently. I think they will be sharing their experiences. But dining is often the luck of the draw. I had it on my list to go there this summer, indeed perhaps even next week (I am still in New York, but leaving for Nice in three days). Now you give me second thoughts since the other reports made me put it o the back-burner. Anyway, I look forward to your continuing posting and partaking of your opinions and descriptions


Edited by robert brown (log)

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Speaking of Hay in food, there is one restaurant in New York, Papillon, that had a dish with hay...


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

blog

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I need more opinions on Flipot. Two posters were not enamored of their meals there recently. I think they will be sharing their experiences. But dining is often the luck of the draw.

Robert: Thanks. Let me put it this way: if we knew each other personally, I would offer you a money-back guarantee on Flipot (unless, of course, the chef had left or taken ill!). Al Sorriso and Flipot are the two best restaurants I have experienced in Italy, and my adventures include most of the Piemontese greats, including Da Guido many times (not to say it has not always been at or near the top of my list). It would be hard for me to imagine that one could fashion even an average meal at Flipot if you stick to the obviously local ingredients like salmon trout and lavender.


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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