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May 1, 2012 09:27 PM

Dal Pescatore ratings fell from being in the top 10 to 70 in the World's Best restaurant list???

Oh dear~just read where Dal Pescatore (where we have reservations in June) fell from the top 10 restaurants to 70 whereas Osteria Francescana is rated 5. I don't believe that the chefs have changed at Dal Pescatore. Now I am wondering if I should change my reservations from Dal Pescatore to Osteria Francescana. Have tried to research why such a large drop in ratings. Does anyone have any knowledge of criteria for ratings and are the restaurants listed in top 50 justified?

I have read the reviews from fellow chowhounders and tripadvisor board and hope that they will give their thoughts. I wish we could dine at both restaurants and make a comparison but must choose only one and we realize they have a different type of cuisine.

Thank for your contributions!

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  1. Dal Pescatore was No. 38 in 2011; it's still a drop of 32 places, but it's not a drop from the top 10. Osteria Francescana was No. 4 last year. The year-by-year listings are here:

    As far as I can tell from reading food blogs and online food magazines by people who know far more about it than I do (one of them votes in the World's Best selection), there are changing trends in what is considered "top" in international haute cuisine, and there are also wheels within wheels, lobbies, politics. In other words, a drop in the ratings does not mean a similar drop in quality. Or a rise a similar rise in qualty: The No. 4 restaurant this year was up 11 places last year and is up another 7 places this year.

    Read what you can about the two restaurants and what they have to offer and choose the one whose menu and approach appeal to you more. Neither is likely to disappoint you, if you have a fairly good idea going in of what to expect and not to expect.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Octavian

      There have been recent reports here on both - use the search to find them - totally different styles. Don't let yourself be led by heavily lobbied lists like this one.

      1. re: jen kalb


        First of all you have to realize the list is just another huge marketing ploy, in this case sponsored by Nestle. I would be willing to bet that most of these restaurants serve or will serve Nestle water (of which there are perhaps a hundred around the world... they've got most of them locked up). Then one has to realize that each of the voters has tried only a fraction of the restaurants. Then one has to ask what does it mean to be the "best. What is the "best." Sure, if people want to just go by the numbers then this list is as good as any. But to make the analogy with Parker wine scores, do you want to drink the Parker score or the wine? Lastly, to show what a farce this whole list is I would note the following: Eleven Madison Park at 10; Daniel at 25; egregiously Il Canto in Siena at 46, Cracco at 55 and the worst of all, Blue Hill at Stone Barns at 77.

        Dal Pescatore, today, is exactly what it was last year and the year before and the year before. It hasn't changed. As Antonio Santini said yesterday in the Mantova newspaper, the chefs are the same (Nadia and Giovanni), the staff is the same (headed by him), the place hasn't changed and the wine cellar is still great.

        IMHO, if you wanted to go to Pescatore before, a list shouldn't prevent you from going now.

        1. re: allende

          Thank you for your replies!!!! Will report about our dinner at Dal Pescatore also having dinner Venissa Ristorante Osteria in Venice.

          We are staying 2 nights at Antico Corte Pallenvinca, 5 nights in Parma, 3 nights in Bellagio and ending the trip with 2 nights in Milan. We think we have pretty much chosen our restaurants in all areas except for the 2 nights in Milan~more research..

          1. re: plufmud

            And where are you eating the two nights at Antico Corte and the five nights in Parma?

            1. re: allende

              One night at their restaurant as well as a cooking class next day,
              Da Ivan, lunch at Guisti, Trattoria ai Due Paltani, Da Amerigo, Marielli and considering Ristorante Cocchi. Will be staying at Palazzo Rosa Prati in Parma. We have a tentative scheduled tour with Parmagolosa and lunch with the tour to visit Parm farm and then Bals.tasting.

              Would love to have any thoughts or other recommendations for our visit. We do read ALL the entries on Chowhound but it also reassuring to have people respond with positve/negative comments or other suggestions about someone's itinerary. When we travel we try to experience as much as possilbe knowing that we may never visit the area again. Of course we also allow for down time and realize that our plans can change when in the area.

              Again, thanks to you all!! Didn't mean for this to get so long.

              1. re: plufmud

                Generally a very good list. Some of my favorite trattorie: Da Ivan; Giusti; Mariella; Amerigo.
                Dal Pescatore. Where are you staying when you go there?

                1. re: allende

                  We are driving from Antica Corte Pallenvinca.

                2. re: plufmud

                  what a wonderful list! Im looking forward to hearing more about these places. I think you will need to take some walks in between! - and do give a try to the artisanal liqueurs in this region - we really liked the sburlon (quince) at Spigaroli's less formal restaurant.

                  1. re: plufmud

                    Fantastic list plufmud! We had such an amazing tour at lunch at Pallenvinca, and when we left I told my husband that some day we would stay there! You will love due Platani and we had a great dinner at Cocchi. I still kick myself that I didn't try the bolito misto while we were there!

                    If you find my report, you will see my other recs for Parma - the pizza and aperitivo (if you are looking for something lighter one night).

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Plufmud, as you know: ratings are just ratings. Subjective stuff. I ate at Dal Pescatore this past Thursday, and honestly..whatever the folks of San Pellegrino think..I just couldn't care (not meant to be rude, just upfront): it was an amazing meal.

            1. MichelinStar,

              We dined at Dal Pescatore on June 20th and I absolutely agree that it was fabulous!!! We were greeted by Nadia who is so charming. Ater having drinks in the sitting room we were shown the kitchen and were introduced to Nonna. She was preparing saffron risotto which we enjoyed later~delicious. Unbelievable that Nonna is 83 years! The orange souffle was perfection. Everything about the night was magical!!! This was one of the highlights of our trip.

              1. If any of you read my previous review (Osteria Francescana), I mentioned that we were staying a couple of nights in Modena. In addition to dining at Massimo Bottura’s restaurant, Ristorante dal Pescatore is another reason why stayed at the city known for its balsamic vinegar. Reaching dal Pescatore, situated in a village between Mantua and Cremona, was not a trivial task especially if you don’t drive. It took us about 1.5 hours from Modana, including the slow ‘regional’ train. It was a quiet and cold Saturday; when we reached Canneto sull’Oglio, the station and the hotel nearby were closed and there was not any taxi around. I called the restaurant and perhaps since they got difficulties to locate a cab for us, Giovanni Santini who was on the way to town stopped by and kindly gave us a ride to dal Pescatore. We arrived at the restaurant about 11:40 and were resting in the waiting room. Both the waiting and dining room were spacious, elegant, classic and quite colorful. There were plenty of books, mainly about cooking and Europe famous chefs, and photos of the Santini family. This small restaurant could accommodate at most 30 people, and almost ¾ of that was occupied during our lunch. At noon, we were escorted to our table. My wife and I were a little bit shocked when we found a few flies flying around in the dining room (maybe because the restaurant was surrounded by gardens); even more surprising, the servants did not seem to do anything with it as well as other guests who noticed them chose to be quiet.

                Anyway, let’s talk about the food. We selected degustation menu with a few changes: replace the cheese course with another starter and have different desserts for both of us. Antonio Santini, whose face had some resemblance to the grandpa from the movie “Up”, complied with our request; in fact, the restaurant was quite flexible to change or add some dishes in the menu.
                Appetizers: we got 2 items.
                -The tender and tasty lobster was “wrapped” in spinach with refreshing champagne jelly; the caviar added briny flavor and luxurious feeling of the dish – a good beginning
                -Warm and juicy guinea fowl was cooked perfectly and it’s combined with pleasant vegetables and fruits. The dressing was light sweet and sour sauce
                Then come the pasta and ‘rice’ dishes
                -A timeless dish of dal Pescatore is pumpkin tortelli. A simple and rustic dish, but very delicious with profound flavor. The handmade pasta was lovely; filled with a mixture of roasted pumpkin, biscuit, mustard and some herbs resulting in balanced sweetness with good texture. It was in harmony with the parmigiano reggiano’s salty flavor. A ‘humble’ dish that’s elevated to gastronomy level – our favorite dish
                -Risotto with shaved white truffle is another traditional Italian dish in the Fall. The kitchen used Vialone nano rice that nicely absorbed the cheese ‘cream’; this worked well with the truffle aroma and flavor. I wish they had put more Alba truffle ... Even though it looked very creamy, the taste was not too rich/heavy, suitable to my wife’s taste. Personally, I still prefer the bold flavor of Alajmo’s saffron risotto

                Following this were main courses: one fish and one meat
                -The grilled sea bass, in a good portion, had firm texture and rather mild taste. The aromatic sauce with olive oil and side dishes helped to improve the overall flavor
                -In any top restaurant with skilled chefs during autumn, it was a treat to savor their venison dish. This time the succulent and delightful saddle of roe was served in cabernet sauce and the meat’s juice as well as accompanied by blueberries and mashed potatoes – a very good stuff
                Now, it’s time for desserts
                -Mine was torta di amaretti and Santini’s interpretation of this traditional cake was simply perfect in almost every way. The texture of moist cake and crunchy croccante were enjoyable; the sweetness from cream and sabayon were just right; lastly there’s a hint of bitter flavor from the coffee. Every byte was a pleasure. Purely on taste, it was my best dessert in Italy (Bottura’s lemon tart had an upper hand in terms of the idea and presentation)
                -My spouse had meringue with pistachio cream and marsala sabayon. It’s also a good dessert; the zabaione was particularly tasty. Too bad, the comparison was against the torta with Amaretti so it looked a bit pale in comparison
                -Lastly, the array of petit fours was generous with plenty of variations and they’re remarkable; about as good as what you can get in any Parisian fine dining restaurants

                Visiting dal Pescatore is necessary for those who would like to experience classic and traditional Italian cuisine prepared with care and using only top quality seasonal ingredients (many of its vegetables were grown in own premises). Despite this, Nadia Santini was also adapting the food with times and modernity. As far as I’m concerned, this is the Italian gastronomy restaurants that used the least amount of cheese and cream yet they did not sacrifice the overall delectable flavor of the dish – for this very reason, dal Pescatore was my wife’s favorite place to dine in Italy. The hospitality from FOH was kind and efficient; however, they just did the basic, which was nothing wrong but we did not really feel the kind of warmth of the Italian family; well, to be fair, we did fell welcome at the end when we visited the kitchen and the Santini chefs (Giovanni, Bruna – it’s amazing that she’s still around in the kitchen regularly - and in particular Nadia) looked pleased, full of smiles and very ‘welcoming’. Probably, the “lack” in service was due to the fact that neither Alberto nor Valentina (she just gave birth and had to take care of his 1 month old son) Santini was around to help Antonio in the dining room.

                For the alcohol part, I liked my 2 glasses of wine: white from Verona the Anselmi san vincenzo ’13 and red from Piedmont Gillardi langhe ’06. The sommelier (also the restaurant manager) was generous for he kept refilling my glass with the white wine without imposing any additional charge at the end (I possibly consumed 1/3 of a normal bottle). Overall, it’s a very good meal indeed and in my view, I would put my lunch at dal Pescatore slightly above my dinner at Osteria Francescana. 2 dishes were outstanding: the tortelli zucca and torta amaretti; while the rest of the dishes were hardly ordinary. Honestly, the presentation sometimes did not do any justice. I gave 96 pts for the food (in my notes, about as good as my meals at Gagnaire Paris and Ledoyen under Le Squer). Michelin 3-star restaurants in Italy were generally more reasonably priced, probably due to their locations. Someone told me that in Italy, the good places to eat were not in major cities. The bigger the city, the worse the food is going to be most of the times – Venice (pre-Quadri) was a good example for me; even La Pergola was not strategically located in Rome. The sad part was I doubt if I would return here. The location was in the middle of nowhere, and my wife already told me she would not bother to spend 6-8 hours for such trip again. At least, I’ve been here once with Nadia was still cooking and had a fond memory of this restaurant in the village of Runate.

                If you want to know more detailed descriptions of my meal: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspo...
                For the pictures of the dishes: