Address: Contrada Santa Liberata, 670 31 Castel di Sangro (AQ), Italy
Phone Number: +39 0864 69382
Guide Michelin: 3 stars
What I paid: 339 € (per person; tasting menu, extra dish with white truffle, water, wine and tea/coffee)
Visited: November 6, 2014
Ristorante Reale is the latest restaurant in Italy to be awarded with three Guide Michelin stars (in late 2013 for the 2014 Italian edition).
Reale opened in 1911 as Appenninis Grand Hotel and was at that time the only hotel in the ski area surrounding its (former) location in Rivisondoli. Then one day the king called in and the name changed to Reale (“Royal”).
In 1996 Antonio Romito transformed what once had become a pastry shop into a restaurant. Antonio died in 1998 and as a result of this, son Niko stopped his studies in Economics in Rome and instead became a chef.
Reale is a family business and from 2000 Niko Romito manages the restaurant together with his sister Cristiana. In 2007 Reale got its first star, in 2009 its second one, and finally in late 2013 the third Michelin Star (for the 2014 Michelin Guide).
Since the summer of 2011, Reale is located just outside a small town named Castel di Sangro in the Abruzzo region (sited in central Italy that stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea, on a generally mountainous and wild terrain).
Apart from the restaurant, the establishment also houses a hotel (www.casadonna.com) and a kitchen school (Niko Romito Formazione).
Niko’s cooking makes use of Abruzzo’s inherent ingredients: lamb and other meat, but also saffron and ricotta. It’s a light cuisine with an original take on local cuisine, but one that pursues to merely capture the essence of the flavors.
Reale offers two tasting menus options:
- Essenza, with about six dishes for 120 €. Wine-pairing for an extra 60 €
- Ideale, nine servings with a mix of both traditional and innovative dishes for 170 € (wine-pairing by the glass for an additional 90 €).
Since it was season for white truffle, you had the option to add that for an additional 35 € per dish.
We chose to go with the bigger alternative (i.e. the Ideale menu) but instead of adding truffle to an existing dish on the menu, we instead asked for an additional dish (i.e. poached egg) to the white truffle (the egg and truffle had an 50 € increase of the price tag). We also decided to chose the wines ourselves (instead of opting for the wine pairing alternative).
So far my best sponge cake!
Most of those amusements were really good.
Very prominent olive taste, which I appreciated.
Panini with scampi:
A small but very tasty amusement and this was also the first “official” dish on the menu.
I liked those “crackers” a lot.
The bread was okay but nothing special.
Roasted squid and pepper:
One of the high-lights this evening! I have had some very good squids in foremost Spain and the one served here were just as good as any of those.
Almonds and misticanza salad:
The salad had a small taste of gin and besides, this was an interesting flavor combination, I think even the dish as a whole was very good.
Extra dish: poached egg with white truffle:
What can you say; white truffle is just amazingly good! And yes, it goes well with poached (probably sous-vide) egg…
Calf sweetbread with cream, lemon juice and salt:
Not a pretty dish and neither something most of us were that enthusiastic about. However, one person really like it!
Onion reduction, parmigiano ravioli and toasted saffron:
Fresh salt cod ravioli with sauce made of salt cod:
Most of us thought that the taste of cod was a little bit to dominant in this dish and none of us liked it that much.
Semolina Fettuccelle with red prawns and pink pepper:
Enjoyable dish where the pink pepper worked really good together with the prawns and pasta.
Pigeon and pistachio:
Very good and perhaps the dish that we all appreciated the most this evening. The pistachio worked really good together with the pigeon.
This was a bonus dish that were under development. None of us really liked this dessert based on truffle.
Licorice-flavored water ice, vinegar, white chocolate and balsamic vinegar:
Maybe not the most beautiful dessert seen but still very good and appreciated by all.
A good collection of petits fours accompanied the tea and coffee.
In summary: I was actually pleasantly surprised with restaurant Reale. This is because some expressed that they were not worth its three stars, but this I do not agree on! We were there on a Thursday in early November, and then we were completely alone in the restaurant (and I do not think they had any guests in their hotel). Felt a little strange that a 3-star restaurant with about 15 people working this evening, had open just because we ate there this evening. Not only strange but also tragic when in addition to the restaurant is so good that it deserves to be packed also can not have economic buoyancy during these conditions. The restaurant and its rooms are very tastefully decorated and I can highly recommend a visit there!
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