Long overdue San Remo report (Nov 2012 visit) Paolo& Barbara and Le Vie del Sale
I am remiss in posting this review of my trip last year. Since I am planning a return trip in a couple of weeks, my guilt has gotten the better of me. I visited Cuneo, San Remo, Genoa and Stuttgart (family) last November over Thanksgiving. I will first post about the San Remo part, as that was the highlight.
My first night in San Remo, I had booked ahead Paolo & Barbara www.paolobarbara.it on Via Roma, a main street in San Remo. As I normally do, I make reservations ahead, informing them that I am a solo, female traveler, and do not mind sharing a table. I also try to book at an off-peak hour, so as not to take up a valuable table.
Paolo & Barbara did not disappoint. Upon entering, I was greeted by Barbara, who seated me at a nice corner table in a very pretty room and started me off with a complimentary prosecco.
I ordered capriccio of two types of seafood to start. Presentation was well done, and it was obvious that this was very fresh fish. Barbara was very nice is suggesting some Ligurian wines to accompany my selection and she was spot on with her choices. A pasta dish, a dessert and a grappa completed my meal.
What surprised me was that I was the only person dinning, so I did not take a lot of notes about what I was eating. I can only assume that regulars came much later. Paolo & Barbara is a charming place serving up well prepared and presented fare. Barbara was so nice to leave me with a copy of Zero24 Liguria for 2013, which had just come out.
I have always told my friends that it is the "unexpected" that makes traveling so wonderful. And so it was with Le Vie del Sale - above and beyond- simply fantastic!
After a week (Nov. 2012) in Piedmont longing for ‘truffled’ anything, I had given up. Imagine my surprise when walking along the water in San Remo I see this nice looking restaurant. Crossing the street to see the menu posted outside, I gasped – “Five Course Truffle Tasting Menu” and reasonably priced. Like an addict searching for a fix I pulled on the door, only it finds it locked. A second tug produced Chef Christian Picco.
I begged for a dinner reservation on this, my last night in San Remo. But alas, they were closed for dinner that evening, and not open for lunch. “However, I am only opening this afternoon for a special client, so please, I will let you take a seat.” Are you kidding me? The chef, sous chef and waiter served and treated me like royalty. He explained that he was from Piedmont (thus the truffles) and his wife was expecting their first child.
Of course, I had the truffle-tasting menu with the accompanying selection of Purnotto Dolcetto, Barbara and Barolo, which flowed freely. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful this meal was. The dish concepts, presentation, flavor and quality were beyond compare. I wish I could tell you about each course in detail, but it would have been awkward taking out a pad and pen as this as one of those moments to be experienced and enjoyed. A truffled soup, a pasta, and beef –not one detail or component overlooked. I can say that crème brulee will never be the same without truffles.
The room is comfortable and well appointed in a nice dark blue and white. The kitchen is partially open from the side. From where I sat, I could see all the action. Even when the special party [a party of about 8-10] arrived, the chef continued to also serve me. While his official guests negotiated and celebrated, I enjoyed a most wonderful meal.
Once before on my first visit to France back in the early ‘90’s did I stumble on such a gem. After a long flight, driving outside Paris, we were pulled over by the police. Managing to explain away our error, the constable encouraged us to “stop and stay in the next village,” which we did. Ending up Bernard Loiseau’s Michelin stared restaurant in Saulieu, without reservations, two weary travelers ended up having a most memorable a tasting menu with wines equal to the amount of airfare paid for the trip.
I can only say that in this day and age of pseudo-gourmet and here and gone restaurants, Chef Picco and Le Vie del Sale have taken a dinning experience to another level. I say that not just because of the way that I was treated, but because I could see that everything that went on from seating of guests, to preparing and serving the food, to that after meal offering of a complimentary grappa, that subtle perfection and love went into everything. This is the way it should be done.
Delighted, when leaving, the chef ran down the street to thank me. Chef Picco, it is the other way around, my generous il mio grazie.
Lungomare Trento Tieste 21/23 • Sanremo 18038 Tel. 0184 1893343
Oh goodness! While getting ready for my up coming trip, I came across a map of San Remo where I DID write down the dishes served:
Squash soup, creme fraiche, black truffle (Dolcetto D'Alba), Truffled Veal Carpaccio (Barbaresco)
Petite pasta filled with fondue topped with truffle shavings (Barolo)
Chicken stuffed with truffled liver served with petie potatoes and artichokes, and creme brulee topped with white truffle.