A “best” restaurant in Italy: Da Vittorio in Bergamo, a classic that keeps on grooving

From the department of “just in case you were concerned that I haven’t been eating well in Italy”…

branzino seabass recipe italyA great day visiting vineyards yesterday in Franciacorta (where I’m working on a post on Franciacorta soil types) was capped by an extraordinary dinner at Da Vittorio in Bergamo province with Maurizio Zanella, Ca’ del Bosco’s founder and the outgoing Franciacorta Consortium president.

Ten years had passed since the one and only time that I had the great fortune to dine at this Michelin three star. And I happy to report that legacy chef Enrico “Chicco” Cerea, Vittorio’s son, hasn’t lost any of his delicious groove.

That’s a branzino crudo, above, served with Norcia truffles and toasted Piedmontese hazelnuts. I loved how Chef Chicco served the plate warm, thus encouraging the aromas and flavors of the delicate fish.

caciucco cacciuco recipeI also loved the playfulness of his mise en place and dish names.

That’s his “caccia al caciucco” (hunt for caciucco), a deconstruction of the classic Tuscan seafood stew and a wonderful paronomasia.

tuna tartare recipeTuna and oyster tartare, served with tapioca, Pernod-infused and finely diced cucumber, and Sicilian tuna bottarga.

It’d be hard to call any one of these pittances a standout because they were all so spectacular. But this was one, Maurizio agreed.

amatriciana recipe authenticLinguine with a “fish amatriciana,” made with cod jowl (cocochas).

Both Maurizio and I swooned over this dish.

black cod sableBlack cod over a Salento yellow tomato sauce.

Just hearing the waiter say “Salento yellow tomato” had us giddy.

As we delighted over dish after dish, Maurizio and I remembered fondly a dinner we shared many years ago now at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego.

One of the things I really, really love about him is how he’s equally at home eating a Jaynes Burger (my fav) or dining alongside the world’s richest and most famous.

It was amazing, btw, to hear him share his Playbill notes on the celebrities and big-time power brokers who filled the dining room.

Maurizio, thank you, man! Great wine, great conversation (I loved the Veronelli anecdotes more than anything else). A night I’ll never forget… Thank you!

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