Food: Modern authentic Italian
Address: Località Runate – 46013 Canneto sull’Oglio – Mantova – Italia
Phone Number: +39 0376 723001
Guide Michelin: 3 stars
What I paid: 500€ (tasting menu for two persons including wine, water and coffee)
Visited: April 19, 2013
Dal Pescatore is a restaurant found in the Parco dell’Oglio nature reserve (Mantua/Lombardy) in a small village with only 36 inhabitants.
Once a simple trattoria (opened already in 1925 and then named “Vino e Pesce”) on the banks of the Oglio, Dal Pescatore is now a three star restaurant and an excellent example of all that is good about Italian restaurants. It’s a family restaurant, hospitality, traditional cuisine, top-quality ingredients and its classy but yet welcoming.
Just a couple of weeks prior to our dinner, Nadia Santini, head chef at Dal Pescatore, was awarded the 2013 Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef (part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards).
Nadia studied food chemistry and latterly political science with sociology when she met future husband Antonio Santini. The couple married in 1974, soon returning to Antonio’s parents’ modest osteria.
Under the coaching of Teresa and Bruna, Antonio’s grandmother and mother respectively, Santini learnt to cook traditional Mantuan cuisine: delicate handmade pasta dishes and home-cured meats and fish. Over the next 20 years, Santini developed her skills and increasingly put her own mark on the cuisine and in 1996 Nadia was the first Italian woman to be awarded with three Michelin stars.
Interestingly, Dal Pescatore is the only kitchen Santini has ever worked in but she has undertaken many trips with her husband to high-end restaurants in foremost France. Despite her background in food science, the cooking is not remotely high-tech; Santini remains a perfectionist for tradition.
Dal Pescatore has two different tasting menus:
- Menu di Primavera – “Springtime”, a menu that changes with season (which accordingly also the name does…)
- Menu dalla Campagna – a menu with more classical dishes
We opted for the Primavera Menu but asked to have one extra dish from the classical menu, namely Tortelli di Zucca, a true Dal Pescatore classic.
We started with a 2004 Cuvée Annamaria Clementi Rosé from my favorite Franciacorta producer Ca’ del Bosco as the aperitif to an amusement of Parmigiano-Reggiano “chips” (no pic).
Next up was an amusement of a cold nibble of aubergine and tomato with olive oil, basil and thyme. Very good!
As the main wine for the dinner I decided to continue with a Franciacorta from Ca’ del Bosco but this time a 2002 Cuvée Annamaria Clementi. This is my absolute Franciacorta favorite!
Lobster terrine with Royal Osetra caviar, Anguilla marinated and pickled ginger
Ossetra (also Oscietra, Osetra, or Asetra) caviar is one of the most prized and expensive types of caviar. It is obtained from the Ossetra sturgeon, which weighs 50-400 pounds and can live up to 50 years. The eggs from the Osetra sturgeon range in color from yellowish gray to dark brown with the gold Osetra, also know as “royal caviar” being the most rare. Osetra caviar is known for having a stronger flavor than Beluga most likely because it swims in deeper, colder waters providing a different diet.
Tortelli di Zucca is a pasta signature dish of Dal Pescatore and also a Mantova classic. It is made of pumpkin (Zucca), nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mostarda (Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavoured syrup), Italian almond-flavored cookies (Amaretto) and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is sweet and yet savory. My favorite this evening!
Ravioli is called tortelli in Emilia-Romagna and parts of lower Lombardy (while tortellini is round with a hole inside, ravioli are square in shape).
Petals of egg pasta with Guinea Fowl, caramelized honey saffron sauce and eggplant
Hen stew with seasonal vegetables and Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Potato Gnocchi with bream marinated in salt, capers, olives and onion cream
Saddle of Venison with a Cabernet and blueberry sauce
Conter clock wise (the way we ate them) from “five a clock”: Camembert of Buffalo milk, Pecorino, Fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano and gorgonzola.
Even though the cheeses were all well known I have rarely tasted a better sample of cheeses.
We were then asked if we wanted to have an extra warm cheese which of course was an offer we could not refuse…
Soufflé with Orange Passion fruit coulis
This is also a true classic of Dal Pescatore and one of my highlights this evening.
After the coffee and petit fours we were treated with the first grappa I ever have enjoyed. The name of the grappa is Grappa Stravecchia (by San Leonardo). We were also offered (again on the “house”) a white grappa from Gaja.
The hospitality of Dal Pescatore is just simply world class and I have rarely experienced such a good and pleasant service level on any other restaurant before.
On the same topic, 9 Muse B&B is not just the closest place to stay when you visit Dal Pescatore but it is also a pleasant place ran by a charming couple with a great interest in food and superb service level.
In summary: a very good restaurant with a top-notch service and hospitality. Highly recommended!