a few Northern Italy restaurant updates
Just got back, and, thanks for a fellow chowhounder, I went to the most fabulous restaurant imaginable! Off the beaten path, but one of only two Michelin 3 star restaurants in all of Italy (the other's in Florence) and it was totally amazing.
That restaurant is called Al Sorriso, and it's near Lake Orta in the "village" of Sorriso. Worth flying there just to eat at the restaurant. (Amazing service, only 10 tables, beautiful rooms to stay if you ate too much, etc...;-)
We also ate at the Hotel San Rocca in Orta -- very very nice. Get a table near the window overlooking the lake.
One bad meal (with lousy service to boot) was at Giardinetto. Don't bother!
Oh, also... dessert at the (Michelin 2 star) Hotel Crespi was to die for!
had dinner at villa crespi and lunch at al sorrison just last month. villa crespi's tasting menu was 95 euro and they paired wine for 50 euro for a beautiful experience in dining for 240 euro or about $325. while the dining experience at al sorriso was just as good, not saying better, the tasting menu alone was 140 euro and a 15 euro bottle of wine from villa crespi cost 60 euro at al sorriso. and while we were comped the champagne aperitif at villa crespi, it cost 9 euro each at sorriso. total 395 euros out the door, charged for everything. $535 soured the meal somewhat. enoteca pinchiorri in florence
is likewise expensive and you wonder if it's worth it. i especially don't like to be nickle-dimed at already over the top restaurants.
away from the gourmet route, though, the venus restaurant right on the lake in orta was the site for a wonderful light meal. salad and pizza a bottle of wine and dessert for 55 euro. couldn't afford more after that lunch at al sorriso :)...
Villa Crespi is fabulous
Beware ! If you like 6 diferent amuse bouches and several tiny desserts which they bring, it's for you but leave a few hours. Service is fantstic. The staff are long standing members of a great team.
Antonio the Chef is , I feel, getting a little carried away with raw fish and raw meat and I used to adore his cooked amuse bouches....sadly no more.
The cheese board is simply spectacular with a selection of unusual beers (strangely) to accompany them, as well as a reasonable wine list and I defy you to find a better list of armagnacs, grappas, brandies etc.
Desserts are sublime
The veal in honey and chilli is beautiful
The Moorish folly which the restaurant is located in is gorgeous
It's a gem of a restaurant and far less brutally expensive and pretentious than Al Sorriso
Mind you, I love this place so much I took 100 people from Manchester, England there for my wedding and they managed a fantastic dinner for 100 which was as good as their individual meals.
Ate at A Sorriso 2 nights ago and was blown away that it was 3-star.
The service was wonderful but I cant imagine that this place would get 2 stars in france.
The food was "nice" but nothing very interesting and flavors were bland. (salt please!)
We tried both of the tasting menus and there was only one other table that evening so i cant imagine the kitchen would have any trouble making everything perfect.
Amuse were for the most part nice, if a bit out of date, mussels with parsley, tomato mouse with pesto and a parmigiano creme brulee that was pasty.
First course of italian foie, again apple and ice wine gelee.... 1998? foie was good, not nearly as fatty or luxurious as french....but the combo was straight out of the 90's
-langostines were cooked very well in the other menu
Second scallop with porcini, good qualitty scallop, but a bit over-cooked
-stuffed porcini, must have been good because i didnt get a chance to taste!
Third Ravioli with mystery ground meat, truffles- couldnt taste the truffles, but the dish was seasoned very well and just ok no where near 3 star
-risotto was cooked very well, with marscapone , balsamic but a bit sweet.
Last course was Beef from Piemonte.
Although it was slightly past medium rare (they say med-rare, but i was never asked) but the beef was quite chalky and not moist at all. Very over rested.
Sad because it was flavorful. Came with bone marrow ravioli with an insepid consume.
Turbot looked good but didnt taste
Desert was a molten chocolate pumpkin cake, cooked very well but considering you can get this at TGIF..... it is not what a 3-star should be doing.
All in all, after re-reading my review im sounding a bit harsh, but i would say solid 1-star meal, at 390 euros quite a bit over priced, but the service was very nice and if your looking for great service a over priced wine list and mediocre food from 10 years ago, this is your place.
next time im in the area though, i will be looking for something under the radar.
PS- michelin what are you thinking?