Family run and beautifully adorned hotel restaurant overlooking private grounds
Da Vittorio is a class act. It is a Relais & Chateaux, 5-star hotel with immaculate grounds and a 3 Michelin starred restaurant within. There’s actually not more you need to say as the food was genuinely very good as well, so most of this write up sings songs to the positive. There are additional bonuses as well – it is a family that runs this establishment and both Cerea brothers (Enrico and Roberti) lead in the kitchen with their sister at front of house and even their Mother slowly making her rounds to greet each table and to ask if all are happy. The express lunch menu was only €80 per head which, for the setting, food and number of courses was an absolute steal. Wonderful pasta is prepared tableside as are mini cone petit four and it all adds to a job superbly done and very much worth the 45-minute drive from Milan airport.
As it was a sunny day we were able to enjoy our aperitifs in the terraced garden whilst looking at the menus and as we did so we were greeted to a trio of utterly gorgeous canapes which immediately told me the level this venue us operating at. The mini hot dog, Croque monsieur and cheeseburger were absolutely lovely but also, who else has the security and guts to do this other than someone at the top of their game? You would usually expect elaborate salmon tartare cones, mini tartlets or wafers of seaweed crisps with roe or single spoons of diced fish, but this was a lovely break from all of that and great fun to see as well as going down very well with a glass of Dom Perignon, something that not many places do either owing to the gamble and cost – this, I was happy to lap up with a spoon!
Focaccia and tomato breads were among an assortment brought to the table. What nobody warned me about was the sheer explosion that was to take place in the mouth with the cherry tomato. It is an old saying about some fruit and vegetables ‘bursting’ with flavour so is commonly lost I think, but when it is literally bursting with moisture akin to a water bomb on impact with the ground and bursting with flavour this is unusual and what I had here. I thought the mini croissants were also superb.
A veloute of cabbage, grapes and chestnut ink mushrooms came with cheese and potato with celeriac crisps on top. This was utterly outstanding with a gorgeous bonus layer of tomato within and had perfectly silky foam. There really was not much more you could do to improve this fabulous dish. Next came spaghetti of tuna with pistachio nuts & celeriac puree which was refreshing and light. Then, polenta with pink pepper meringue (which had a beautiful egginess to the meringue), came with salted cod and cod roe with olive oil and aioli sauce. Really nothing much going wrong here in any way.
Then a pleasant break from the norm. Not only did two of the owners bring the pasta to the table to prepare for us, but we were also handed enormous bibs and for good reason. The Pacherri pasta (large, tubular pasta) has a habit of slipping off the fork and splashing into the sauce which can go all over you, therefore the bibs were actually very good news. Indeed the word Pacherri comes from the Neopolitan word for ‘slaps’ and one can see why. Three kinds of tomato are used in the sauce, along with chilli pepper, Parmesan cheese and Parmesan cheese sauce. The pasta itself was perfectly al dente (see close up picture) and I also wasn’t prepared for how utterly outstanding the basil was – fresher and more potent than I have ever had before and this was a revelation. As another lovely touch, some farina bread was offered so that we could ‘Scarpetta’ the rest (break in to little pieces and mop up).
Next, sea bream from a 3.5kg caught that morning from the Mediterranean was served with asparagus Milanese style (ie from Milan) and pea sauce and mashed potato. The sea bream was good and whilst not at the very best had, the wonderful potato mash did its magic to cover the rest.
Three local Bergamo cheeses were enjoyed, showcasing the heritage of the area (the goat cheese variant of which was from 50km away to the East) and the classic panettone was also on hand and was as soft and well done as it possibly can be. Assorted petit fours were presented on candy floss and little pastry cones were filled with vanilla cream with hazelnut at the table as an especially nice touch from the chef de partie.
All in with drink, this worked out to be £150 per head with drinks and all included and I have had more expensive occasions that have been with far lesser food products. Therefore, this is an absolutely charming place to visit and is exactly the sort of place I would take someone to show how a grand place can be not intimidating or stereotyped but wonderful.
Food Grade: 93%
Location (Click google logo for directions)