Thursday, October 8, 2015

Da Vittorio, Milan

Da Vittorio, Brusaporto, Italy, 9/25/2015, 250 Euro

Da Vittorio is located in a resort named Cantalupa which is comprised of a caterer, 10 guest- rooms and the Michelin 3-star restaurant Da Vittorio. The surrounding is absolutely fabulous. Da Vittorio has a very classy setting with impeccably placed floral arrangement and table setting. To get to this place is a challenge. You have to take a 50-minute ride on the train from Milan to Bergamo (the birth place of Donizetti), then take a 30-minute cab ride.

The restaurant currently is operated by the 2nd generation of the Vittorio family. Two of the three brothers are chefs in the restaurant. There are four menus to choose – business lunch menu (70 Euro), In the Tradition of Vittorio Seafood menu (180 Euro), a la carte and Carta Bianca (Carte Blanche) Tasting Menu (250 Euro). Since I came a long way to get there, I chose Carta Bianca to get a real feast. I was warned not to eat too much bread.
1st Course – Spicy bread, apricot jam, Taleggio cheese ice cream
It was a refresher and starter. Taleggio has strong aroma but is much milder than blue cheese. It is tastier, lighter and creamier than mozzarella cheese. This dish was elegantly adorned with cute orchid flowers. 

Bread stick mille-feuille, polenta stick and hollowed bread stick were served.

2nd Course – Raw tuna fish, stuffed with cod and potatoes mousse

Tuna fish fillet was filled with cod and potato mousse, then topped with sweet onion cream, baby basil leaves and anise leaves. It was served with lemon and lime oil (in yellow color) and grated lime skin. The quality of tuna used is extraordinary, as good as what I had in Tokyo last year.
3rd Course – Apple, Caviar, ice pearl almond

Beluga caviar is caviar consisting of the roe (or eggs) of the Beluga sturgeon, primarily from the Caspian Sea. The Beluga sturgeon can take up to 20 years to reach maturity. The eggs themselves are the largest of the commonly used roes. In this course, Iranian Beluga caviar was served with a cute green apple jello which was filled with apple nectarine inside. On the side, there were almond milk granité (tiny white balls), hazelnut crumb (at the bottom), beet root and red fruit sauce. Apple was partially covered by a thin sheet of potato bread to make a mystic and romantic looking. It was my favorite dish in this meal. Beluga caviar is so.. delicious, no other types of caviar can compete with it. Beluga is sweet, less fishy and sumptuous. The combination of all ingredients made this dish a perfection. I kept thinking of this dish ever since I had it. 

 4th Course – Cherry’s foie gras

Foie gras filled with cocoa and covered by cherry jello. It was served with molten salt and cocoa powder. The contrasting color of a red cherry sitting on two green leaves made this dish a picture perfect object.

5th Course – Caccia al caciucco (soup with raw fish)

This course required two dishes prepared separately and then merged at the time of serving. There were different kinds of raw shell fish in the plate, prawn with head on, razor shell (in front), lobster (on the left), scallop (under prawn) and red mullet (in the middle), and crust of bread. It was served with Caciucco-Livorno soup which was one of the most famous fish soups, always served with a slice of Tuscan bread brushed with garlic. In this course, soup was cooked in the kitchen and served with the raw fish. Cooked shellfish which produced the flavor in the soup was discarded.

6th Course – Sea Bass carpaccio and eggplant cream, water clams

Sashimi of Sea Bass from the Mediterranean Sea, served with eggplant purée and clam. Black squid bread was at the bottom, parsley and tomato piece for decoration were on top of sashimi. It was served in clam soup with orange cream for additional flavoring.

Croissant, brioche and tomato focaccia were served

7th Course – Prawns with burrata and barbecue tomato cream
Large prawns were served in grilled tomato sauce made of 3 different types of tomato. It was served with chopped olive, lemon cream, burrata cheese, potato bread and Sicilian red onion (on top). Sicilian red onion has a sweeter taste than other types of onion. So far, every course of seafood was delicately prepared and different from others.

8th Course – Rice with green peas and shrimps tartar

It looked gorgeous, it was the risotto, rice cooked with condensed bisque of crustaceans and green peas. Raw shrimp scampi was place on one side of risotto. In addition curry powder and powder of green skin of peas were sprinkled in a V shape for visual presentation.
Extra - My server was very nice to me that he diverted a small portion of pasta from other guest’s serving plate. This pasta was created since day one when Vittorio was opened in 1966. It was called Paccheri alla Vittorio. It shaped like a hollowed tube and served with orange color sauce. My server informed me that the sauce was made of tomato, basil, oregano, pecorino cheese, pepper and carrot.
9th Course – Hard coal

Mediterranean Sea Bass was cooked in a block of coal which was made of sugar, squid ink and a little bit of water. My server brought out the fish fillet after he cut open the coal block. He also served me a chunk of the coal. Chef/owner liked to use local fish from the Mediterranean Sea. Sea Bass’s texture was tender; sweet and nicely flavored. It was served with Perlina aubergine (eggplant) from Sicily, candied tomato, rice spaghetti (in white color), small pieces of rock shell (edible), seaweed and passion fruit foam. It required so much work to make this dish.

10th Course – Separated scorfano (scorpion) fish, stewed and raw

It was also from the Mediterranean Sea. The word scorfano can also mean ugly in Italian, which gives an idea of the appearance of these fish, while the scientific name, scorpaeno, derives from the Greek scorpion and refers to the poisonous spines that rise along its dorsal fin. Contact with spines on camouflaged scorpion fish can cause poisoning. However, whole cooking effectively denatures and eliminates their venom. Europeans liken them to lobster. Scorpion fish are coveted by most Europeans as a precious and essential shears. Make sure you eat the cheeks. This course was comprised of two parts:

1). Tartar with ginger and lemon broth

2). Fish head poached, then pan fried and cooked in vegetable broth. Sauce was condensed and fish was topped with bah choy. The moment I saw the fish head, I knew right away the best part was the cheek. If you are not used to eat fish head, you missed the best part of the fish.

 11th Course – Grilled onion with robiola cheese and red onion sauce

Cipollotto Canna onion was grilled and served with Robiola cheese Piemonte (sheep, goat and cow cheese). Chutney of peach, raspberry pieces were placed on cheese, while the small pieces of blackberry and root of onion were on the side for decoration and eating. This course is a palette cleaner for the following course.

12th Course – Ravioli with strachitunt cheese, violet potatoes foam, black truffle

This type of pasta is called Casoncelli (ravioli from Bergamo). It is one type of stuffed pasta, typical of the culinary tradition of Lombardy, in the north-central part of Italy. The shell typically consists of two sheets of pasta, about 4 cm long, pressed together at the edges, like that of ravioli. This ravioli was stuffed with potato and taleggio cheese (a semi-soft smear-ripened Italian cheese with a strong aroma and mild fruity tang flavor). It was served with spinach, snow peas, fava beans, black truffles and violet potato foam. Powdered porcini was sprinkled in the plate. This was like a sophisticated vegetable-themed dish.

13th Course – Pigeon with candied tomatoes and black Taggia olives, wild salad greens

Pigeon breast was stuffed with roasted and candies tomato, this piece of pigeon breast was the tenderest one that I have ever had. There was some salad on the side and a piece of potato chip filled with an olive, and polenta with robiola cheese. Everything was made to perfection. This was the last savory dish in this meal, I did my best to stretch my stomach to the limit to finish this plate. This was my 2nd most favorite course in this meal.

14th Course – Cannoncino and Zeppola di S. Giuseppe

Some popular Italian pastry filled with custard.
15th Course - creama pasticcera

Nocciola (hazelnut) ice cream, dipped in chocolate sauce and covered with cocoa

16th Course – Baba Rhum with Chantilly, fruit and mint

One of my favorite, too good to pass.

17th Course – Soup of red strawberry coulis, lime sorbet and white foam of vodka

This desert palette cleanser soup is truly sublime. The best desert soup that I have ever had. It was my 3rd most favorite in this meal.


Petit Four – cookies and chocolates

Left side – a plate of three cookies, orange cinnamon, white chocolate with berry and apricot

Right side – on top of cotton candy, chocolate with raisin, crunchy chocolate, chocolate with anise liquor (Sambuca), chocolate with mint, and chocolate caramel and salt.


At the end of meal, I realized that I did a superb job of fitting all this magnificent goodies into my stomach within 4 hours. My stomach definitely has endured another stress test successfully. My server suggested to have a walking tour of the Cantalupa. I saw its kitchen facility with about 20+ staff to serve the maximum seating of 120+ during the ordinary time and 30+ during the holiday season. I also visited its wine cellar which has the temperature control setting at 40 F. Da Vittoris has got great collection of pricy vintage wines including a dozen each of La Tâche and Romanée-Conti, and some St Emillion. It also owns a bottle of brandy dated 1862.
I made a journey to Da Vittorio. I had such a wonderful experience with its impeccable service, unbelievably creative, visually pleasing and sumptuous food, and gorgeous classy setting. All dishes were made to perfection and I had my 1st time taste of Beluga caviar. I did not know how expensive it cost presently until I got back to NYC (It has been banned from importing into US for more than 10 years). I truly appreciated the chef/owner’s special attention to prepare such a luxurious and extravagant meal for me. It definitely worth another journey.






Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, Milan

Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, 9/26/2015, 140 Euro
It was started by the couple Aimo and Nadia 50 years ago and currently managed by the 2nd generation. It is decorated with strong contemporary style, including paintings on the wall and furnishings. It is located on the edge of Milano, a block away from the metro exit. I decided to choose the 7-course Tasting menu. I also requested for changes of two items on the menu. 
Amuse Bouche – A small taste like a prologue

1). Pumpkin cream, topped with almond cream and basil, in olive oil

2). Fresh tomato, burrata cheese, roasted bread chunk at the bottom (covered by tomato) and caper

3). Mussel with buffalo cheese, roasted tomato, sliced dry porcini and chick pea powder – Mussel was plump. Using buffalo cheese and porcini made a well-balanced overall taste. Among the three amuse bouche, this is the best. 

1st Course - Mothia Salt Games: raw sea bream from Ligurian Sea, citron from Calabria, Sicilian pistachio mayonnaise, green celery and water-cress

Sea bream was served raw, it was fresh. The most tasteful item in the plate was the roasted water-cress. The baby green leave on top was turnip sprout leave. The orange piece of the right hand side of the plate was bergamot. It was a pleasant dish to start with.

Bread spelt, Tiracci, mix grain, mix flour and grissini were served

Sesame crisp and fig crisp 

2nd Course – That’s Raviolo! Raw crispy cuttle-fish from Adriatic Sea, lemon marmalade, smoked scamorza cheese and beetroot granité

Cuttle-fish was thinly sliced, so thin like a veil that they were transparent to see-thru what was underneath. Raviolo was made with squid ink and cream. Beet ice cream, almond cream, lemon marmalade were served on the side. To enhance flavor, squid ink powder was sprinkled over the plate. Cuttle-fish slices were well prepared, fresh and tasty. I later found out from the head chef that Raviolo was in frozen condition first to ease the difficulties in handling. This was certainly a delicious dish.

3rd Course – Rice (Carnaroli variety) with Nocellara olive oil, purple shrimp, Apulian tomato, oregano from Vendicari and capers from Pantelleria


Carnaroli rice was served with raw shrimp (It was named purple shrimp), roasted tomato, basil leaves, caper and dill. What appeared to be in orange color spots were shrimp head juice. I sucked shrimp head juice whenever there were fresh shrimp served, but never thought of using it as an ingredients. This was a creative way of full-utilization of shrimp.

4th Course – Fantasy of fish & shellfish of the day flavored with aromatic herbs, served with white beans from Maremma cooked in earthenware pot

This course was comprised of raw fish and shellfish, including Red Mullet, shrimp, baby squid. They were served with white bean sauce, roasted tomato, baby basil and shrimp head juice in orange color. It looked like the head chef like to use shrimp head juice.

5th Course – Pate with pigeon and duck liver. Pate made with pigeon and duck liver, flavored with white truffle paste by Grazioli, with hot brioche bread


I could taste white truffle flavor in the pate. It was served with white truffle sauce, chestnut sauce, kiwi, mustard marmalade and dry water cress. I noticed the yellowish color of brioche. After meal, I found out from the head chef the yellow color was from the specially treated eggs. I have not found out what kind of egg?

6th Course  - Tenderloin of veal Fassone breed in a light panure of chamomile and red onion with carrot in raspberry vinegar

Veal tenderloin was broiled with sprout bread crumb on top. It was served with celery, almond, dill, bergamot. Sauce was made of tomato, chamomile and veal sauce. Diced porcini was wrapped in potato fillet and baby carrot was cooked in raspberry vinegar with a cute piece of baby basil on top. Veal was not tender enough, especially after I had the best pigeon in Da Vittorio the day before. The tastiest ingredient was the carrot. 


36-month Parmigiano Reggiano cheese served with whole wheat brioche and roasted tomato.

It was a cute looking lolly pop made of melon flour and apricot for the dough and prickled pear for the filling. I later saw different color of lolly pop made with different flavors.


Desert – Black Lemon: Sorrento lemon cream, lime foam, and ‘loomi’ powder, with Apulian almond milk

A small portion of almond milk was served in a glass. In addition, a multi-layered lemon tart in a plate. Starting from the bottom, a layer of cookie dough, a layer of white chocolate and lemon cream flavored with San Remo Lemoncello from Liguria, a layer of dark chocolate, and a layer of lemon meringue sprinkled with black lemon (from Sorrento) powder. This lemon tart was so flavorful. I hate to say it was better than what I had at Osteria Francescana. The best part of the lemon was the meringue. It was lemony, refreshing, creamy but not too rich. I tried but the manager wouldn’t not give me the recipe for the meringue. This was my favorite course in this meal.


Petit Four

From left to right – beet-flavored marsh-mellow, mini-cannoli, mini-chocolate tart

This restaurant’s food taste better than Sadler’s even though both have earned 2 Michelin stars and affiliated with Relais and Chateau. Among what I ordered, seafood dishes seemed to be better than meat dishes. Its lemon tart definitely is the best. During the meal, I noticed the dining room staff moved around with very fast pace. After the meal, I found out it has 14 kitchen staff to serve 50 guests (max capacity). Without of doubt, the owner kept a very close eye on the operating cost.