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.
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
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.
Nocciola (hazelnut) ice cream, dipped in chocolate sauce and covered with cocoa
16th Course – Baba Rhum with Chantilly, fruit and mintOne 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.