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It's guides time


albiston
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Yes, it is that time of the year again, when chefs nervously wait for a confidential rumor, a sign, anything, just to stop the waiting before the Restaurant guides come out. Or better it was that time of the year since today the first one from Espresso has reached the bookshops. Gambero Rosso will announce it's best restaurant awards on Monday, and the other guides will follow. (For an overview of Italian Restaurant guides take a look at this thread).

For those interested there's a special report on the Espresso guide in Italian at the link above. There's recipes interviews and review of the three 19 points chefs, an interview with Enzo Vizzari, guide chief editor, and a few other articles. An interesting interview with Enzo Vizzari appeared on a new interesting Italian food blog a few days ago, and if you're interested you can find it here. Espresso's guide has two new features this year, the piggy bank symbol for good priced establishments and they also took a leaf from the Slow Food guide adding a few pages on street food, like the best trippai in Florence and so on.

For all those not familiar with Dante's language here's a brief summary of the restaurants who received the three toques, the highest award, given to restaurants judged between 20 and 18 according to the same method used in the French Gault-Millau guide:

19 points

Gambero Rosso, San Vincenzo (LI); Vissani, Baschi (Tr); La Pergola dell'Hotel Hilton, Roma

18,5 points

LE Calandre, Rubano (PD); Enoteca Pinchiorri, Firenze; Dal Pescatore, Canneto sull'Oglio (MN)

18 points for L'Alberata di Gualtiero Marchesi, Erbusco (BS)

Of the 32 "two toques" (between 17,5 e 16,5 points) a few get a special mention: Cracco Peck (Milano), Miramonti l'altro (Concesio), l'osteria La Francescana (Modena), and Giancarlo Perbellini (Isola Rizza) at 17,5.

Between 17 e a 16,5 among the others the newly awarded Combal Punto Zero (Rivoli Torinese), Antonello Colonna in Labico, Paolo e Barbara in San Remo, Uliassi (Senigallia), La Taverna del Capitano (Nerano), Vittorio (Bergamo), l'Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, il Capriccio (Manerba), Bracali in Massa Marittima.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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albiston, thanks for the info. and heads-up. I have always found the various Italian guidebooks such that no single one is useful by itself. When I travel, I always need to bring several with me since none are "complete" and others focus only on certain levels of restaurants. It used to be that one could always get by in France with only the Gault-Millau, but someone tell me which single guidebook would you bring with you in Italy if space were extremely limited? For what it's worth, I always bring Faith Willinger's Eating in Italy, the Slow Food Osteria guide, the Gambero Rosso and the Guida de L'Espresso. I like the Veronelli as well, but no one guide strikes me as being significantly better or more useful than any of the others. I also think that many of the higher-rated restaurants (read "fancy/expensive") are not worth a return visit.

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Somebody tell me how that crummy joint in Erbusco can possibly be entitled to a high rating.

CyN,

that's the same question I've found on Italian food forums. Having never been there I can only say the general consensus is that L'Alberata has been undergoing some serious shaping up in the last 6 months and the few people I've heard talking from direct experience mentioned a very big improvement.

That said, it's not a place I'd feel like trying out even if I had the time to do so.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Just out: here's the Gambero Rosso Tre forchette awards and the Tre Gamberi (best trattorie)

Gambero Rosso, Fulvio Pierangelini  96/100

Vissani, Gianfranco Vissani  95

Dal Pescatore, Nadia Santini  93

Ambasciata, Romano Tamani  93

La Pergola, Heinz Beck  93

Enoteca Pinchiorri,Annie Feolde and Giorgio Pinchiorri  92

Don Alfonso 1890, Livia and Alfonso Iaccarino  92

Le Calandre, Massimiliano Alajmo  91

La Siriola, Stefan Wieser  91

La Torre del Saracino, Gennaro Esposito  91

Villa Crespi, Antonino Cannavacciuolo  90

Perbellini, Giancarlo Per bellini  90

Villa del Quar, Bruno Barbieri  90

Laite, Fabrizia Meroi  90

Il Desco, Elia Rizzo  90

Paolo Teverini 90

St. Hubertus, Norbert Niederkofler  90

Lorenzo,Gioacchino Pontrelli and Lorenzo Viani  90

La Madonnina del Pescatore, Moreno Cedroni  90

Antonello Colonna  90

TRE GAMBERI

Da Amerigo, Savigno – BO

L’Asino d’Oro, Orvieto – TR

La Brinca, Ne – GE

Caffè La Crepa, Isola Dovarese – CR

La Cavea, Pietravairano – CE

Locanda al Gambero Rosso, Bagno di Romagna – FC

Nangalarruni, Castelbuono – PA

Osteria del Boccondivino, Bra – CN

Osteria della Villetta, Palazzolo sull’Oglio – BS

Taverna 58, Pescara

U.P.E.P.I.D.D.E., Ruvo di Puglia - BA

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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albiston, I've dined at a lot of restaurants in Italy, but only four of the ones on the Tre Forchette list. I don't know if that says more about me than Gambero Rosso. Of the four, I would only return to the Gambero Rosso. Maybe the inspectors should go work for the France Michelin. What does it all mean? It strikes me as ironic.

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albiston, I've dined at a lot of restaurants in Italy, but only four of the ones on the Tre Forchette list. I don't know if that says more about me than Gambero Rosso. Of the four, I would only return to the Gambero Rosso. Maybe the inspectors should go work for the France Michelin. What does it all mean? It strikes me as ironic.

Robert,

To be fair I have the feeling GR, both magazine and guide, is having a slight identity crisis. Some of the restaurants in the list might have a certain French touch, someone like Alajmo is not without reason the youngest Michelin three starred chef ever (something not many know). Still, I think that even accounting for that there are quite a few differences between Michelin and GR.

On the other hand, many of the newer entries are following another path. As good examples for this I would point to Torre del Saracino, Lorenzo and Antonio Colonna. These restaurants make haute cuisine but they're unmistakably Italian. I really hope that from these (and others just below the three forchette mark) a new wind will blow through the Italian restaurant scene .

Also don't forget that GR guides votes on many parameters, service, ambience and cellar and many of the top ones in that list get really high scores in these fields. I always like to have a look at the cooking aka kitchen votes, which are IMO more interesting. As soon as those are out I'll post them.

now I'm curious. Which ones did you try apart Gambero Rosso? Also, I assume from what you write that you purposely avoided dining in some of these. Isn't it difficult to judge without first hand experience? A rhetoric question, I know, people like us don't have someone paying for our restaurant visits and one clearly has to choose, but I'd be still be interested in knowing the reasons for these choices

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Based on this list I still have a lot of eating to do in Italy.

The only restaurant on the entire list I've been to is Don Alfonso. Maybe because Italian food is so good at the less than haute cuisine level, I really haven't felt much of a need to seek out these restaurants in the past. My Italian food explorations have been more ingredient based than specific restaurant based.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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albiston, where is Al Sorriso on the list? I have been there and didn't like it. The same for dal Pescatore and Enoteca Pinchiorri (but that was a really long time ago, but don't think I would change my mind if I were to go back). Lorenzo is another I went to years ago and plan to return to as it is one of vmilor's favorite. L'Ambasciata I recently visited and reported on. No desire to return there, although it wasn't bad.

I am sure I have been to several that almost make the list; Miramonte l'Altro, Tenda Rossa, Aimo e Nadia, da Vittorio, Antica Osteria del Ponte (but a long time ago when it was almost brand new), Sole in Ranco, La Frascsa ( a long time ago), and Arnolfo. It is not that I assidulously avoid the restaurants in the 17-18/20 or Tre Forchetti categories. It's that being in Nice a lot, we do our eating in neighboring Liguria and Piemonte where such restaurants are almost non-existant (or, indeed, are non-existant). I'm really weak on th Adriatic side of Italy and, except for Rome, south of Tuscany--a situation I am hoping to remedy. My preliminary, tentative and even speculative hunch is that when you go beyond what are the really good so-called second tier restaurants, you get into an approach to cooking that sacrifices heart and soul for rigid, overly-disciplined conception and execution.

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A few further infos from the Gambero Rosso guide:

- Emergenti (the rising stars, one might say): Duomo - Ragusa (86); Villa Maiella - Guardiagrele (86); Zum Lowen - Tesimo (86); All'Enoteca - Canale (85); Già sotto l'Arco - Carovigno (85); Lanterna Verde - Villa di Chiavenna (85); La Trota - Rivodutri (85); S'Apposentu - Cagliari (84); Il Canto de l'Hotel Certosa di Maggiano - Siena (82); Il Gelso di San Martino - Cazzago San Martino (82); Il Faro di Capo d'Orso - Maiori (81); L'Imbuto - Viareggio (81); Magnolia - Cesenatico (81); Il Melograno - Ischia (81).

- Oscar qualita’/prezzo (best deals): Antichi Sapori – Andria; Taverna Kerkira - Bagnara Calabra (RC); Risorta Locanda del Castello - Bojano (CB); Miseria e Nobiltà – Campobasso; La Cucinotta – Caserta; Al Becco della Civetta - Castelmezzano (PZ); Cibus - Ceglie Messapica (BR); Jasmin - Chiusa (BZ); Hotel Notre Maison - Cogne (AO); D'O - Cornaredo (MI); Il Papavero - Eboli (SA); Il Cantico - Ferentillo (TR); Trattoria Pegaso - Gavardo (BS); E Parlaminté - Imola (BO); Antica Trattoria dei Mosto - Ne (GE); Alla Ruota - Negrar (VR); Il Mirto e la Rosa – Palermo; Osteria del Minestraio - Pianoro (BO); Osteria di San Cesario - San Cesareo (RM); Stazione - Santo Stefano Belbo (CN).

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

My preliminary, tentative and even speculative hunch is that when you go beyond what are the really good so-called second tier restaurants, you get into an approach to cooking that sacrifices heart and soul for rigid, overly-disciplined conception and execution.

Robert,

Thanks for the answer. I perfectly understand what you (and John) mean when you talk of the problem one finds beyond the level of the “really good so-called second tier restaurants”. My choices, when it comes to eating in Italy, often land on places even lower down the line, the local trattorie serving very well made traditional dishes. Still, every now and then I do like to see what those brainy, starred, intellectual chefs are doing, both to see what the whole fuss is about and to compare these top Italian chefs to those abroad.

BTW Al Soriso has not been on the list since a few years ago

P.s. What disappointed you at dal Pescatore? It slightly surprises me if only because of the enthusiastic comments I’ve heard from almost everyone else I know who’s tried it.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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albiston, where is Al Sorriso on the list? I have been there and didn't like it. The same for dal Pescatore and Enoteca Pinchiorri (but that was a really long time ago, but don't think I would change my mind if I were to go back). Lorenzo is another I went to years ago and plan to return to as it is one of vmilor's favorite. L'Ambasciata I recently visited and reported on. No desire to return there, although it wasn't bad.

Robert, you are not as far from the Gambero Rosso's views as you think you are. Il Sorriso, as Alberto pointed out, seems to be a 3-star-level restaurant for Michelin only, no other guide ranks it as high, especially Gambero Rosso. I am surprised like Alberto about your views on Il Pescatore because I think they deliver exactly what they promise, while I encourage you and many other partecipants on this forum to give Pinchiorri a try. Yes, it is expensive, but the overall experience I do find worthy of both 3 forks and 3 Michelin stars.

Finally, no argument regarding l' Ambasciata: last time I was there was so bad, I probably like it even less than you do.

However, many of others you cite are near the 3 forks level (for example, I know you liked Arnolfo, which I also like and this is very close to the top). As usual, guides can only take you that far and invariably you have to rely on several sources to get an accurate picture. Going back to the Ambasciata example, it is clear that the restaurant can perform at certain levels and this would explain the high scores it gets in many guides. For me, *on that particular day* was a huge disappointment, especially because the problem seemed more one of attitude than one of capabilities.

BTW, I hope to be able to go to Vissani very soon and will report back. He is considered a culinary genius in Italy and almost nobody knows much about him outside of the country. It's high time someone on this forum gave him a try :wink:

Francesco

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Francesco, Albiston: The few others I know who have to been to dal Pescatore share my reaction which is more or less that their dishes were too studied or soulless. I really look forward to hearing about Vissani. He is extremely undervisited, even unvisited, in my circle; nor have I read anything about him either here or in the non-guidebook press. When are you going? I'd be willing to give Pinchiorri another whirl if I could ever my wife to do it.

I don't blame anyone who concentrates on trattorias, osterias and smaller restaurants in general in Italy. It's what eating in Piemonte is all about, and Piemonte is the region I know and love the most.

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BTW, I hope to be able to go to Vissani very soon and will report back. He is considered a culinary genius in Italy and almost nobody knows much about him outside of the country. It's high time someone on this forum gave him a try  :wink:

Francesco

Francesco,

I really hope you'll amnage to visit Vissani, because I'd love to read some direct experiences about him. Excluding the bad name his excessive media coverage has given him, I've heard he's improved in the last years but never managed to get any details.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Robert (and Alberto),

Francesco, Albiston: The few others I know who have to been to dal Pescatore share my reaction which is more or less that their dishes were too studied or soulless. I really look forward to hearing about Vissani. He is extremely undervisited, even unvisited, in my circle; nor have I read anything about him either here or in the non-guidebook press. When are you going? I'd be willing to give Pinchiorri another whirl if I could ever my wife to do it.

barring last minute problems, I will be going Saturday next week and would be able to report a week later. I hope to be able to take pictures but I am worried about that because the media attention on him is so great that I would almost certainly be asked to stop as they'll think I am a journalist.

Anyway, my curiosity is also very high because in the Italian forums, which Alberto also follows, the consensus amongst those who seem to be well informed is that he's never been better. What seems to be special about Vissani is his palate: the ability to put together ingredients in combinations that very few would dare try and pull it off. All this while remaining within the confines of Italian cuisine.

I should add that there aren't many other places about which everyone seems to (positively) agree: Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo and Perbellini in Veneto seem to be the other two at the moment. I have been to Perbellini recently and I can confirm it is worth the trip.

I don't blame anyone who concentrates on trattorias, osterias and smaller restaurants in general in Italy. It's what eating in Piemonte is all about, and Piemonte is the region I know and love the most.

I don't blame anyone who does the same either because it is certainly the case that this is Italy's strenght.

However, (and this is a point I've made several times), I feel that this strenght, has to consequence that Italian high-level restaurants don't get much of a chance.

France is identified with haute-cuisine so that no-one disputes that going to French 3-stars is a must for anyone interested in food. Spain, on the other hand, was virtually unknown to non-Spaniards until 10 years ago and does not carry the burden of being identified with any specific style of cuisine. In Italy, on the other hand, there is a definite perception that any restaurant which aspires to high levels either is a French clone if it goes the creative way (I still remember a casual remark from Patricia Wells about Vissani's cuisine which she identified as "French": I've never been to Vissani but I have two of his cookbooks and French is one thing his cuisine is not. But she felt "da Fiore" was the best restaurants in Italy.....) or it is the same stuff you get in trattorias only with better presentations and much higher cost. Either way it's not worth it.

I have read enough of your posts to understand that the caricature I am making does not apply to you (I suppose this is more a matter of getting something off my chest) but I would encourage you to take more chances. Your trip and your surprise at Vittorio (which few people in Italy rate very high) would confirm that.

As far as Pinchiorri is concerned, my first visit there still remains in my memory as one of the best experiences I have ever had. It is true that perhaps it is not the absolutely best restaurant food-wise in Italy, but it is quite close on that count and the service I always found impeccable. Now, if their wine prices were a bit lower....

For a Piedmontese suggestion, the new Villa Crespi (very close to Il Sorriso) seems to be very popular. Besides, have you tried Paolo e Barbara in Sanremo?

Francesco

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...

In Italy, on the other hand, there is a definite perception that any restaurant which aspires to high levels either is a French clone if it goes the creative way (I still remember a casual remark from Patricia Wells about Vissani's cuisine which she identified as "French": I've never been to Vissani but I have two of his cookbooks and French is one thing his cuisine is not. But she felt "da Fiore" was the best restaurants in Italy.....) or it is the same stuff you get in trattorias only with better presentations and much higher cost. Either way it's not worth it.

I have read enough of your posts to understand that the caricature I am making does not apply to you (I suppose this is more a matter of getting something off my chest) but I would encourage you to take more chances. Your trip and your surprise at Vittorio (which few people in Italy rate very high) would confirm that.

Francesco,

thanks for the interesting points. I think you really hit the crucial spot about Italian high level cooking. I'd also add that one of the big problems Italian cooking presents in this respect is that its huge diverse tradition almost completely misses a form of codification that could make it more understandable and traceable. It is somewhat ironic that some of the techniques used in top restaurants get labeled as French although, if you go back in history, they've always been there and some have actually been exported from Italy TO France. Only, to find this out, you might have to look back to rare Italian cookbooks, unknown to most. I'm not saying that the French owe their cooking to the Italians, rather than cooking methods and ideas have always travelled around Europe and the French have had the privilege to be the only ones to seriously codify theirs. Gourmet cooking today, coming from court cooking becoming that of the rich bourgeoisie, has always seen cooks move around different European countries, certainly today more than before, but still in a noticeable manner. With the people the techniques moved too.

Reading this post, and looking back at the rest of the thread I think it is worth to add something. The point on how most Italians see top restaurants should be taken into consideration when looking at the Italian restaurant guides, except maybe for Michelin which caters a different reader base. The people writing these books have IMO a really hard job to do since they must please the few gourmets looking for special places but also the general public with its prejudices. It is no easy task and, with all well placed criticisms, these guides still manage to have a very important role, both informative and, in a way, educational. In a certain sense the Slow Food guide, which I find BTW incredibly useful, is the one that takes the easiest path, ignoring anything that is high gastronomy.

I'd love to see the day when both the trattorie and the top restaurants will be seen only as parts of the complex that makes up Italian gastronomy and not, as too often the case today, as two opposing eating philosophies.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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OK, final and last addition to the Gambero Rosso Restaurant Guide awards. Since quite a few people asked to see the votes given to the kitchen last year, this might be interesting to some.

56 Gambero Rosso San Vincenzo [LI], Vissani Baschi [TR]  

54 Le Calandre Rubano [PD], La Torre del Saracino Vico Equense [NA]   

53 Arquade de l'Hotel Villa del Quar San Pietro in Cariano [VR], Combal.0 Rivoli [TO], La Madonnina del Pescatore Senigallia [AN], Paolo e Barbara San Remo [iM], Uliassi Senigallia [AN]  

52 Ambasciata Quistello [MN], Da Caino Manciano [GR], Il Desco Verona, Don Alfonso 1890  Massa Lubrense [NA], Laite Sappada [bL], Mistral del Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni Bellagio [CO], Perbellini Isola Rizza [VR]

 

51 Antica Corona Reale da Renzo Cervere [CN], Antica Osteria del Teatro Piacenza, Arnolfo Colle di Val d'Elsa [sI], Balzi Rossi Ventimiglia [iM], Duomo Ragusa , All'Enoteca Canale [CN], Enoteca Pinchiorri Firenze, La Frasca Castrocaro Terme [FC], Da Guido - Relais San Maurizio Santo Stefano Belbo [CN], Lorenzo Forte dei Marmi [LU], Zum Löwen Tesimo/Tisens [bZ], Mulinazzo Villafrati [PA], La Pergola de l'Hotel Rome Cavalieri Hilton Roma, Dal Pescatore Canneto sull'Oglio [MN], Piccolo Lago Verbania, Il Rigoletto Reggiolo [RE], Zur Rose Appiano/Eppan [bZ], Sadler Milano, La Siriola de l'Hotel Ciasa Salares Badia/Abtei [bZ], Il Sole di Ranco Ranco [VA], St. Hubertus de l'Hotel Rosa Alpina Badia/Abtei [bZ], La Tenda Rossa San Casciano in Val di Pesa [FI], Paolo Teverini Bagno di Romagna [FC], Villa Crespi Orta San Giulio [NO]

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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I'd love to see the day when both the trattorie and the top restaurants will be seen only as parts of the complex that makes up Italian gastronomy and not, as too often the case today, as two opposing eating philosophies.

Amen.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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In GR - page 408...check it out!

Ore

Ore, I don't have the guide but I'll guess.

Congratulations for the 80 points (if the rumors I hear are right) your restaurant recieved, a great score in its own right and even more so when given to a newly opened restaurant.

Did you celebrate?

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Thanks for the report!

Happy to see La Pergola at the top.

Cracco-Peck went up as well, I think

Once again, the high rate of Vittorio strikes me...

(In a couple of weeks I will visit Cracco-Peck again - I am curious.

Then a few weeks later, for the first time le Calandre: how exciting will that be!)

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Thanks for the report!

Happy to see La Pergola at the top.

Cracco-Peck went up as well, I think

Once again, the high rate of Vittorio strikes me...

(In a couple of weeks I will visit Cracco-Peck again - I am curious.

Then a few weeks later, for the first time le Calandre: how exciting will that be!)

You're welcome Paul.

Cracco Peck got 87 from GR, up two from last year. I was actually expecting he'd get the tre forchette too, given the very positive opinions Cracco's cooking I read in the magazine. He did go up both for Espresso and GR and rumors would want him receiving three starts from Michelin later this year. Other possible new candidates for the award are La Pergola and Vissani.

I think you'll have to fight over Vittorio with Robert :biggrin: .

I'm sure we'll all love to read your opinions about Cracco-Peck and Calandre once you come back. I'm also quite curious to see how these two fare in the eye of someone who's not Italian, especially Calandre which often gets thrashed from Italian foodies.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Cracco-Peck I found very interesting for the food, especially since I did get the impression that creative cuisine is very rare in Italy.

But I liked it also very much because of the excellent service and very good advice on wines.

Whether he already deserves three Michelin stars is hard to say for me. I can't judge the consistency of the high level yet, since I have only been there once.

For La Pergola, my opinion is slightly different; I have seen it going up, and I feel that there is a great deal of consistent high level in his meals now, which perfection I did not find the very first time I was there (january 2003). And the service at La Pergola is probably the very best of Italy, also according to GR, as I thought to have read.

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  • 1 month later...

Michelin 2005 is now out as well (veronelli's guide is the only one missing) and causing quite a stir, as usual, among Italian foodies.

The four three stareed restaurants are the same as last year, 'Le Calandre' in Rubano (Pd), 'Al Sorriso' in Soriso (Mn), 'Dal pescatore' a Canneto sull'Oglio (Mn) plus the new entry of 'Enoteca Pinchiorri' in Firenze. (correction:Pinchiorri had three stars last year too)

The restaurant considered the best by the other guides, Gambero Rosso, Vissani and La Pergola keep two stars. There are three new two starred restaurants, 'Rossellinis' in Ravello (Sa) 'Il Rigoletto' in Reggiolo (Re) and 'Arquade' in San Pietro in Cariano (Vr), bringing the total to 23.

There's also been an increase in one starred establishments, from 186 to 197.

Edited by albiston (log)
Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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