Italy: Vissani in Baschi and La Pergola in Roma, Anyone Been To Either?
- Joe Aug 26, 2001 06:21 PM
What are your thoughts on these restaurants, especially Gianfranco Vissani's which Gambero Rossi gives credit for having the highest food rating of all restaurants in Italy.
I've never really been partial to restaurants at the top of a hotel such as the one in Roma. It's location as much as anything is a detraction for me. As for the other I know little about it other than its mention on Gambero Rosso, the reputation of its chef and the associated ratings as well as two stars from Michelin. The Michelin guide implies that the prix fixe is 230,000 lira. This is a lot. But Dal Pescatore was 210,000 lira and I thought this was more than reasonable given the overall experience as well as the incredible food. Alain Ducasse in Paris was 1600 FF and absolutely not worth it. Other than an abundance of sterling silver I thought it to be horribly overpriced.
Why would you not return? Is it the price in relation to the quality and taste of what you were served? Arrogance by the staff? Why do you feel it is overrated?
I am looking for an incredible meal somewhere between Siena and Roma. I don't really care about the cost. But it must be a memory. It also must be recognized.
I am hoping to find a meal on the level of what I have had at Dal Pescatore or Gambero Rosso in San Vicenzo. I am hoping to avoid a meal such as what I had at Il Desco in Verona recently. There must be 10 Michelin starred restaurants in this area with several of them being truly extraordinary. I am hoping to find one that others have been to and would consider crossing an ocean just to return to.
I was all over that part of Umbria last May, very neear Baschi, and while I didn't go myself to Vissani, I was warned by locals and repeat visitors that while the food there is good, the theatrical hovering of the owner is quite off-putting, and the prices stratospheric for that part of Italy.
Could Vissani be any more gorgeous or delicious than Trippini, a beautiful little jewel box at the top of Civitella Del Lago, off the main road between Orvieto & Todi (signs mark the way). It has a web site -- you can get the number from that and reserve; they seem to really appreciate knowing you're coming -- it's small. Panoramic view of the lake, lovely linens, family-run with great pride -- a fabulous place to propose, but not so formal that you couldn't go there just for the heck of it. You don't need a sportcoat.
There is so much good food to be had for peanuts in this area -- you are far more likely to wander in anywhere and get a decent meal than in Tuscany. The local dive inside the walls of Baschi has great Mezzaluna (ravioli). I Gelsi in Madonna Del Porto is good. Etrusca in Orvieto and Umbria in Todi are both well-known old favorites, although try and investigate what they do well before ordering. Ask for no salt. That way you'll only get a little.
Do check out Trippini and report.
Ate at Vissani two years ago, and it was a horrific experience. Between the disappointing food and the smothering service, the name has now become synonymous with everything I hate in high-end food.
The food was frighteningly overprepared, everything layered and drizzled with intense, rich sauces.
That's not to say the food was bad. It just was fooled with much too much.
The service could drive you to fastfood restaurants. Full tuxedos, white gloves -- they even decanted the water. Silence, also, everyone sitting in silence. All around us seemed to be having a terrible time, too, especially when the owner/manager began browbeating a trio near us to try three different bottles of wine.
To me, it was the opposite of what's wonderful about Italian food -- respect for the ingredients and the simple approach.
For me, wonderful gourmet is Daniel or Le Bernardin. Vissani is just pretension.