Date visited: October 7, 2012
Piazza Armerina is a little town in the middle of Sicily known for the remnants of outstanding mosaics of an ancient Roman Villa (Casale). Busloads of tourists flock there almost daily throughout the year.
Al Fogher is a refined restaurant, just outside the town, off the highway. It has quite high rankings in Italian guides, like Gambero Rosso and Espresso. Guide Michelin too must like Al Fogher, as it is a prime candidate to receive a Star in 2013.
I don’t take the Italian guides too seriously, because they are not incognito and I doubt they pay their own bills in the restaurants. Unfortunately Guide Michelin too has been on a roller coaster going steadily down in recent years. Nowadays one hears rumors that a well known NAPA VALLEY boutique hotel wined and dined the Michelin director and received three stars. (I ate there. The food merited a star and the desserts were inedible.) Many average restaurants are starred. Some of the best seafood temples hardly receive a star or are not even mentioned in the guide. Moreover, the guide cannot distinguish between truly great innovative cooking and fussy, confused cooking. They rush to give a second star to promising restaurants which are far from perfecting many dishes, and they punish restaurants with a classical bent. (This is a very large topic, and I am planning an article with concrete examples.)
All these said, I feel truly offended when I see in my Michelin guide that a restaurant like Al Fogher is being considered for a star.
Osteria Cera is about 20 minutes from the Venice airport (in Campagna Lupia), and it is heads and shoulders above the quality you find in Venice. It is not only better than other Venetian seafood restaurants, but it is a great seafood restaurant. I should say that our meal there in late March of 2012 was even better than the February meals at LORENZO and ROMANO. The only seafood restaurant in Italy which may be at least on par with OSTERIA CERA is LA PINETA in Marina di Bibbona. I consider La Pineta to be one of the world’s best seafood temples.
I have very fond memories of this restaurant which was the subject of a previous gastromondiale review (“Da Vittorio – Revisited”: http://www.gastromondiale.com/2008/10/da-vittorio----revisited.html#more ). Since then, unfortunately, the great Vittorio passed away, and now his children are at the helm. They also moved the restaurant away from downtown Bergamo to Brusaporto, which is about 20 minutes away by car. The restaurant is now located in a luxury country style hotel-spa, but since we preferred to stay in old town Bergamo, I cannot comment on the hotel.
DATE VISITED: Nov. 29, 2009
ADDRESS: p.zza risorgimento 4. Alba
TELEPHONE: 0173 366 167
SUMMARY: Chef Enrico Crippa is one of the most highly regarded chefs today in Italy, and he was recently crowned with the second Michelin star. While it is true that he is a promising chef, his cooking is uneven and sometimes it is too fussy and unfocused. On the other hand, the highs are also quite high and even the failed dishes attest to the intelligence of Crippa.
The restaurant consists of only five to six tables and its decoration may not be to everybody’s taste. The service is formal and attentive, but one is surprised by the absence of a knowledgeable sommelier. I ordered the 2005 Silex Dagueneau from the list, but the sommelier brought the 2006 and was genuinely surprised to hear that the difference mattered. He would have opened it had I not been careful.
I was also surprised by the lack of communication between the dining stuff and the chef. One dish, spaghetti cacio e pepe, did not contain a detectable amount of the promised cacio. I asked twice to the waiters to inquire the chef about it, but never got a response to my inquiry.
On the other hand, when the bill came, I noticed that the two glasses of Barolo we had ordered with the partridge and the cup of champagne we shared were offered by the restaurant.
This restaurant probably deserves one Michelin star and the two stars may have been a bit premature.
In a past post I had inquired whether Da Vittorio and Le
Calandre were the two best restaurants in Italy
Last May I had a memorable meal in this celebrated two Michelin star restaurant at the end of my five day stay in this amazing city that I had not visited since my college years. Thanks to some good advice from my friend Francesco, we had some authentic meals in Roma, and I became quite partial for various preparations of offals which are an indissociable part of traditional cooking with roots in the so called cucina povera. I still lick my lips thinking of some of the best offal dishes I have had anywhere: a Rigatoni con la Pajate at PERILLI in Testaccio (bowels of the veal which have not been weaned), some mixed fritti of animelle (sweetbreads) and cervello (brain), as well top notch Trippa (tripes) a la Romana at the superb trattoria MATRICIANELLA, and also an equally successful Coratella of lamb (all offals) at the SORA LELLA which traces its origins to the Jewish-Roman tradition. All of the three restaurants were good, but if I choose one, I especially recommend Maticianella.
The sheer utterance of this name conjures up images of
romance and beauty, but not culinary treasures. This is strange because the
Venetian lagoon is a very special place to have some of the world’s best
seafood. One can feast on simply prepared superb seafood in Venice
I have previously written a glowing review of Da Vittorio,
awarding it 18/20 and calling it one of the very best, possibly one of the two
best restaurants in Italy
The seafood of Venice