Cellar Tours Blog

Archive for the ‘italian restaurant’ Category

What could be more evocative of the famed Italian Dolce Vita than sipping cocktails under an open summer sky, reveling in the magic of one of the world’s greatest cities – Rome?

bar george 2

The Italian capital, of course, hardly needs an introduction. This vibrant and historic city is as culturally rich and architecturally stunning as the come. The nightlife scene, after a somewhat slow start, is now one of the best in Italy: bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs to suit all tastes and budgets. In addition, stylish rooftop bars now abound in Rome, glamorous destinations where you can dress to kill and enjoy pre-dinner cocktails.

bar exedra 2

The scene is largely dominated by 5-star hotels in Rome, meaning you’re likely to enjoy suitably chic surroundings, a great cocktail list and utterly professional service. Many serve a large selection of wines, and smaller plates; the perfect proposition for oenophiles and those who want to avoid a full blown meal.

The following are some of our favorite roof bars in Bella Roma:

Terrace Bramante bar at Hotel Raphael, Piazza Navona, 00186, Rome

bar raphael

There is no better way to start an evening than sipping a cocktail at the gorgeous hotel Raphael, overlooking Rome’s famous Piazza Navona. It affords wonderful views of the Vatican, the surrounding colorful rooftops and energy from the square below. The atmosphere in the evening is unbeatable and the wine selection impressive! Hotel Raphael has one of the best cellars in Rome, including some top Champagnes and fine wines from across the globe. There is better food in Rome, but it would be hard to imagine a finer position. Whatever you fancy: morning coffee, a pre-lunch aperitif or an evening cocktail, you’re bound to fall in love with this little slice of heaven in Rome.

bar hotel-raphael

The American bar at Hotel Forum, 25 Via Tor de’ Conti, 00184, Rome.

bar forum

Situated at the heart of Rome’s ancient center, the American Bar at the Forum has prime position for admiring the city’s Roman heritage, whilst sipping a glass of Prosecco (or five!) The bar has become a popular place to meet before a night out, for both visitors and locals who come for the amazing 360 degree views of the Imperial Forum and across to the Piazza Venezia, but stay for the cocktails and delicious bar snacks. The rooftop restaurant is also one of the finest in the city, and will happily accommodate both hotel guests and visitors. The atmosphere is tranquil yet vibrant, making this special space the perfect spot for a bit of romance with a loved one. Undoubtedly, one of Rome’s best roof-top bars!

bar forum 2

La Terrazza Rose bar, St. George Hotel, Via Giulia, 62, 00186, Rome

bar -george

A sophisticated cut above the rest, La Terrazza Rose has an effortless chic about it. Offering a unique concept unheard of in Rome – at least to our knowledge – the bar is devoted solely to rosé wines and champagnes. The views from this sleek, cream colored space are some of the best in Rome, attracting a well-heeled, chic crowd. They come for the comfortable setting but stay for the incredible selection of rose by the glass. All this pink stuff is bound to work up an appetite, luckily La Terazza rose serves a mouth-watering selection of seafood, the oysters being a particular highlight. With such stunning vistas over the capital in this setting, and superlative rose on tap, it’s not hard to see why La Terazza is rarely anything less than packed.

Terrace at the Hotel Exedra, Piazza della Repubblica, 47 00187 Rome

bar exedra

Facing the imposing Piazza della Republica in central Rome, lies a gem of a pool bar and restaurant, always full at weekends with revelers enjoying a poolside cocktail. The terrace overlooks the spectacular fountain of the Naiads and the church of Santa Maria degli Agneli – quintessential Rome then! Visitors can use the pool (for a fee) and are welcome to sip a cocktail until 1am or enjoy a lavish dinner overlooking the pool. The Exedra also has one of the best Champagne bars in Rome, Champagnerie Tazio, where you can enjoy a formidable selection of local and international fizz by the glass, including top Champagnes like Dom Perignon and Krug.

Roof Garden Bar, hotel Minerva, Piazza della Minerva, 69, 00186, Rome

bar minerva

Effortlessly chic, grand and intimate at the same time, the historic and luxury hotel Minerva has one of the most elegant terrace bars in the entire city. The roof garden is a blissful haven away from the chaos and traffic of Rome; the white tuxedo jacketed staff are effortlessly professional and welcoming, offering both guests and visitors a large choice of Champagnes, cocktails and wines by the glass. There is often a pianist playing soothing music, creating a lovely soft ambiance for admiring the wonderful views of the Piazza Venezia and St Peters in the background. A fantastic space for the great and the good to meet, which manages to remain decidedly un-pretentious!

bar minerva 2

0-300 Roof Garden at Restaurant All’Oro, Via de Vantaggio, 14 – 00186 Rome

bar oro

0-300 degrees wins the award for coolest Rome nightspot. Situated on top of the Michelin starred All’oro restaurant, diners and revellers can enjoy a range of superlative small plates and snacks on a small, delightful terrace, ranging from crudo, raw fish and hams to delicious seafood and meat appetizers cooked on an outside grill. The views, as you’d hope in Rome are amazing; the hot ticket is before sunset, watching the sun disappear behind the Vatican whilst sipping a cocktail. Which incidentally, are some of the best and most inventive in Rome, head chef Riccardo di Giacinto loves the weird and wonderful. We’d go for the croccante all’amarena, a heady concoction of chocolate, crème de lait and cherry.

Champagnerie ai Limoni – Grand Hotel Plaza, Via Del Corso, 126 – 00186, Rome

bar plaza

A wonderful secluded hideaway hidden deep inside Rome’s touristy historic center, the Champagne terrace of the hotel Grand Plaza offers an irresistible combination of fizz on tap and suitably romantic atmosphere. A small space adorned with citrus trees and flowers gives unrivalled views of the Piazza di Spagna and medieval Rome. The list of cocktails is impressive, but you all know why you really came here – for the fizz! Make the waiters happy by sticking to Italian Franciacorta, or splash out on vintage bubbly from Champagne, but whatever your choice you’re guaranteed a memorable evenings at this little slice of Italian heaven.

Just be aware that opening times are limited and weather permitting: weekends 6pm – midnight.

Enjoy the Roman Summer!!

Tuscany in the Fall

Posted by gen On November - 8 - 2013

Tuscany in the Fall- By Simona Piccinelli, Italy Specialist

Tuscany is the ideal destination for a gourmet wine tasting getaway in the autumn! Imagine freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil on bruschetta; exquisite white truffles  shaved over handmade pasta; aromatic porcini mushrooms and roast chestnuts; pumpkin and sage stuffed pasta; ripe figs wrapped in prosciutto;  manicured olive groves and vineyards with flaming red and orange leaves; velvety red wines on a chilly, sunny afternoon, medieval castles and stone villas …. this is Tuscany in the Fall.

There are few places on earth so idyllic and beautiful which tantalize all the senses like La Toscana

Poderi di Luigi Einaudi

We were lucky to attend Buy Tuscany a few weeks ago and visit some of our favorite suppliers to touch base and check the state of the wear and tear. Things were looking great! We are happy to recommend the following hand selected hotels for your next vacation in Tuscany, ones that have worked very well this last season and where you are sure to have a fabulous time- buon viaggio!

Relais Borgo San Felice

Immersed in the sublime Chianti wine country, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, this Relais & Chateaux is actually an entire small hamlet. It´s got movie set narrow streets, a Romanesque church and medieval buildings which house 46 elegant rooms and suites. Being a historic structure there is no elevator but there are 5 rooms on the ground floor for those who can´t do stairs. After a late breakfast, the perfect relaxed day can start with a visit to the winery onsite, followed by an excellent Tuscan lunch at Poggio Rosso, where 2 Michelin starred chef Francesco Bracali prepares dishes based on local culinary traditions with his hint of personal creativity. Next season they will be offering exciting new cooking classes.

borgo san felice1378667_10202439036047351_1041325921_n

Castello di Casole

Recently opened after a long and careful restoration by Timbers Resorts, this wonderful huge estate welcomes you with a cypress-lined lane that leads to the elegant main courtyard of the castle that dates back to the year 998. In the main area and building the hotel offers 41 suites, mixing Tuscan and contemporary styles. There are also some villas and farmhouses scattered throughout the extensive estate (available also for sale).
Not far from the hotel, in cooperation with winemaker Paolo Caciorgna, Castello di Casole produces 2 wines: Dodici and ‘C’, both private-label signature wines, which are available only to owners and guests. Very exclusive.


Castel Monastero

Located in one of the most beautiful areas of the Chianti Classico wine region, the hotel is a respectfully restored medieval village. The buildings, distributed in different areas of the estate, are divided into “contrade” and house 74 luxury rooms and suites. While the village is in classic Tuscan style, the rooms have a chic, modern design which retains a warm and intimate atmosphere.  The Gourmet Highlight is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay´s restaurant, Contrada.


Villa Armena

A stunning late Renaissance villa made with red brick, surrounded by gentle hills (this is quintessential Tuscan countryside), dotted with oak trees, wheat fields and cypresses: this is Villa Armena. Very intimate and cozy, it is owned and run by Edoardo and Elena (together with newborn Leo and bulldog Franco), a sweet and professional couple that really make you feel at home, as if you were old friends. After a day of  tasting Brunello di Montalcino or a visit to the white truffle fair in nearby San Giovanni d’Asso village, this is a great place to relax and enjoy the peace of Tuscan countryside. Dine in at restaurant Sorbo Allegro, where you will be be pampered by chef Carlo Valeri, who recently won the  prestigious Gualtiero Marchesi award. Recommended!!


Borgo Scopeto

Feel like you are a galaxy away from the trials and tribulations of modern life, yet in reality you are onlya short distance from Siena-  Borgo Scopeto is a classic Tuscan “borgo”.  Once home to the famous Sozzini dynasty, it is now a beautifully restored and elegant hotel- a tasteful blend of traditional and contemporary styles. Borgo Scopeto is also an agricultural  estate, producing wine and extra virgin olive oil, that you can sample at their fancy La Tinaia restaurant or directly at the winery, not far from the relais. Dreamy!

scopeto 4scopeto 2scopeto 5scopeto 3

Il Borgo Castello Banfi

If you’ve always dreamed about being a prince or princess  then this is the right place for you! Owned by world famous Banfi winery, it is housed in a real castle in the ethereal Montalcino countryside and offers 14 fantastic rooms and suites furnished and decorated by Federico Forquet, with exclusive accessories. You can dine in the classic Tuscan restaurant in the medieval castle, sampling traditional dishes like pinci (which is called “pici” in the rest of the region of Siena). This is a thick, hand-rolled pasta, that you can learn to make during a fun and interesting cooking class on site.

castello banfi56

Il Falconiere

The ultimate Under the Tuscan Sun experience. Experience true Tuscan living at this welcoming resort, with  touch of bohemia. The warm, affectionate  Baracchi family are great characters. Silvia will spoil your palate at the restaurant and during her enlightening and amusing cooking classes (you can even learn how to make your own cheese!), Riccardo will charm you with tails about falconry and, together with his son Benedetto, will introduce you to his wines. Add a small but complete spa (with wine therapy and olive oil treatments), not to mention the opportunity to meet falcon Lilla … what else could you look for?


We get so many requests for romantic trips, from honeymoons to anniversaries, babymoons to Valentine’s Day trips, so we composed some fun ideas in Italy (is there anywhere more romantic?) for our special guests:
1. For lovers of the romanticism  period and particularly of Lord Byron, what could be better than his suite at Punta Chiappa in Camogli with a private dinner from the tower where he wrote his poems? Sublime views from the special Byron´table…

stella maris Byrons table

2. For Shakespeare romantics, a plush room in gorgeous Verona facing Juliet’s balcony is all you’ve ever asked for…


3. For astronomers and star crossed lovers,  the cabriolet suite in the lovely Franciacorta winemaking countryside is a dream

4. Want to cross paths with movie stars and rock stars, but avoid the paparazzi – we suggest an off the beaten track location like Basilicata where Francis Ford Coppola has opened a fab little palazzo hotel…


5. If Classic is your style, then Venice is your destination and a terrace on the Grand Canal is THE luxury touch to make the experience special and memory making…

venice punta dogana

6. For the lucky ones who have already found their prince charming, stay in a real castle in Tuscany!

7. For  lovers of the Dolce Vita,  the jet set atmosphere in Capri with its amazing food and nightlife extravaganza calls…


8. … and finally, for those who are down to earth, but still dreamers  at heart, a private candelit dinner overlooking the sea, in stunning Taormina, Sicily is our suggestion…

san pietro taormina lg


Let us plan the romantic vacation of a lifetime for you, drop us a line!

Sunday at the Farmers Market in Padernello castle

Posted by gen On July - 19 - 2012

Italy´s Gourmet Hamlets…..

By Simona Piccinelli, Italy Wine Tours Specialist

Italy is always full of surprises. You are driving through a relaxing bucolic agricultural corner of the country with only cornfields and cows to be seen, when suddenly in the middle of nowhere, you discover a “village gourmand”.

You are in Padernello: 76 residents, 1 crossroads lined with solid, thick-walled 17th and 18th century buildings, 1 church, a perfectly restored castle with its moat and drawbridge (and a ghost, of course!) and 5 restaurants (you are spoilt for choice)!

The lords of Brescia, the Martinengo family, built the castle in 1450 and lived in it until the 1800’s. There are many legends of the époque of the Martinengos, but the most famous is the legend of “la Dama Bianca”, who is now the ghost of the castle. Born in the late 1400´s, Bianca Maria was the daughter of Count Martinengo of Brescia. She was very beautiful, but delicate, thin and pale (“white as jasmine flowers” they wrote) and she had a sensitive soul, far removed from her family´s schemes and violent plots. She loved to spend her time praying and meditating; she had no interest in the material aspects of life. As day by day she was ever more fragile and sickly, her father sent her to her uncle Bernardino’s castle in the countryside in Padernello, to recuperate. It was November 1479 and Biancamaria was 13; she didn’t survive the summer and she passed away on the 20th of July, 1480, falling in the moat and drowning. Every July since then, Bianca Maria has appeared to the Padernello residents, dressed in a white gown, with a golden book in her hand.

After many years of neglect, the Nymphe foundation brought the castle to its ancient splendour and today it is a pristine, magical place, which offers many interesting activities throughout the year, from guided visits to theatre, from cinema to exhibitions, to medieval fairs and festivals and and of course food and wine tastings.

As soon as we walk in the castle, another surprise: the monthly farmers market is taking place!  It is part of Slow Food´s worldwide network of farmers’ markets, offering access to good, organic and fair food from local area.


Before we sat down to lunch, we visited the different stalls, chatting with the farmers and sampling delicious local foods. I particularly loved the traditional cured meats (coppa with honey, yumm) from Capriolo village, bread with taggiasche olives from Panificio Grazioli from Legnano, buffalo cheese from Manerbio and  sprouts from Marone. And of course casoncelli, I even got the recipe from the grannies making them!

Recipe for Casoncelli alla Bresciana (Casonsèi):

serves 6

for the pasta dough (recipe here) :

300 g white flour type 0
3 eggs
salt and pepper
100 gr butter

for the filling
200 gr of beef
100 gr of fresh pork sausage
1 carrot
1 celery stock,
1/2 onion
clove, nutmeg, bay
50 gr Grana or Parmigiano cheese (grated)
50 gr breadcrumbs
salt, pepper
1 egg
50 gr butter
2 spoons extra virgin olive oil

for the sauce
100 gr butter


Thinly chop the vegetables, veal and sausages; in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 50 gr butter, add the vegetables, sauté and cook until brown on all sides. Add the copped meat and let drain. Add the wine, let it evaporate and then add the herbs, salt and pepper. Add some warm water ad let cook for about 1 hr, keeping it well drained. Transfer to a food processor and mince. Transfer to a bowl, add the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, 1 egg, a pinch of salt and pepper and mix by hand.

Prepare the pasta dough; roll out the basic pasta dough and cut it into squares (about 4-5 cm each side). Place teaspoonfuls of the filling in the middle of the squares. Moisten the edges of the dough with a little water, and fold into triangle. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Set aside, cover with a clean cloth, and let rest for 1 hour.
Bring a large pot of water to a low boil. Add salt and the casoncelli, and cook for about 3/4 minutes. Drain well and toss with a sauce of butter and sage, sprinkle with cheese and serve. Enjoy!

Interview with Angelo Di Costanzo – Head Sommelier of the prestigious Capri Palace Hotel & Spa

Cellar Tours meet one of Italy´s brightest sommelier stars in beautiful Capri…

We had the pleasure recently to meet Angelo Di Costanzo in Anacapri on the roof terrace of the gorgeous 5* Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, where he has been the head sommelier since 2009. The hotel hosts also the 2 Michelin starred restaurant L’Olivo.

The youngest of 7 brothers, Angelo was born in Pozzuoli in 1975, he attended hotel school and, after working in several local restaurants, he became a certified AIS sommelier in 2001.

In 2008 he was awarded “Best Sommelier in Campania” and “Silver Pin – Charme Sommelier of Italy”. From 2002 to 2009, he run a great wine shop in Pozzuoli, L’Arcante, which is also the name of his fantastic food and wine blog, L´Arcante.

Sipping a glass of Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei Cruna DeLago, we began our chat:

1) CT- What made you choose wine as your passion? How did you become a sommelier? Why did you choose to stay and work in Campania? What excited you?

ANGELO- After some years of my work, I had the need to grow professionally and wine made me felt immediately so many emotions I decided to improve my knowledge and go deeper in that field. So everything started, studying, visiting wineries, walking in the vineyards. And I still cannot stop! Why did I choose to live and work in Campania? Well, what better experience is there than the opportunity to show your gorgeous region to guests coming from all over the world, staying home?

2) CT- What is unique about Campania in terms of food, wine and scenery? What can you find there that you can’t find in other places?

ANGELO- Campania is a very rich and generous region, still far from being over exploited or discovered. It is unique, with fabulous landscapes, terrific historic sites, welcoming people, amazing wines and gourmet products and a gastronomic tradition with such a huge variety it is very hard to find anywhere else.

3) CT- Which appellations, or general wine producing areas of Campania are your personal favorites and which of the local grape varietals do you enjoy most? Any particular wine you felt in love with?

ANGELO- Campania is the land of “100 local grapes”, an ampelographic treasure you cannot find anywhere else in the world. There are many wines you shouldn’t miss, each micro wine region, from Caserta to Naples, on Amalfi Coast to Irpinia, in Cilento or Sannio, offers its best, fine wines which are becoming more and more requested on the export markets, too.

Think of Falerno del Massico, but also  Amalfi Coast wines or Taurasi, the most important red wine of Southern Italy, made with aglianico, the most widely grown grape in the region. But you can find many other peculiar grapes: ginestra and palagrello for white grapes, piedirosso, casavecchia, marsigliese, tintore to name a few red ones. Unusual names, sometimes difficult to remember, producing very good wines, loved by guests who come to Capri from all over the world

4) CT-  Can you offer our readers any tips for enjoying Campania in terms of wines to look out for, favorite restaurants, etc?

ANGELO- Of course, nobody should miss Capri (!) , where I live and work , and Campi Flegrei, where I come from, plenty of interesting wineries to visit. I would suggest an excursion to Vesuvius, in Terzigno, to visit and have brunch at Villa Dora.Then, a visit to Caserta area, at Terre del Principe, an amazing winery, where you can also enjoy a traditional meal prepared by chef Maurizio Piancastelli.  In Irpinia, a drop in to Mastroberardino is a must, as well as to their wine resort and Morabianca restaurant with chef Francesco Spagnuolo.

Going south, you have to visit Cilento and its enchanting sea, stopping at a family run organic winery Casebianche, where you can also spend the night, Betty e Pasquale Mitrano will take good care of you. Last but not least, the Amalfi and Sorrento coast, where I particularly love Monte di Grazia wine estate in Tramonti, Marisa Cuomo in Furore and Vigne di Raito in Raito, close to Vietri sul Mare.

5) CT- What do you think the pros and cons of visiting Campania are and would you suggest it as a destination for wine lovers?

ANGELO- Pros are so many they are hard to list, Campania is absolutely a destination a wine lover cannot miss, to get and breath over 2000 of grape growing and wine making history. You can easily say that grape and wine were born here, thanks to the Greeks. I cannot see any cons, but I would like to give a true advice, especially to guests arriving from far away for the first time: put yourselves in good hands, as Cellar Tours, to organize the trip, the winery visits, the restaurants, sightseeing. This region offers a lot, but you need to know well the people, the wineries, the locations, not to waste your time.

6) CT- If you had to pick one favorite place in Campania, it would be…..

ANGELO- …. a very hard question! Every area has something special: in Campi Flegrei and Ager Falernus you find smoking soils and thousands years old wine anecdotes, in Irpinia amazing wineries, in Amalfi Coast and on the islands one of a kind landscapes, with vineyards suspended between sky and sea, in Cilento it is simply heaven … every one can find his own cup of tea.

7) CT- Your dream dinner paired with wines would be …

ANGELO- I am very proud to work here at Capri Palace and I would definitely recommend it for a gourmet highlight. Apart from Capri, I had several dinner extravaganzas: in Vico Equense at Torre del Saracino with Gennaro Esposito, but also at Taverna del Capitano in Marina del Cantone, to name just a couple. Should I pick one only, anyway, I would choose Don Alfonso 1890 and the lovely Jaccarino family, in Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi, for its outstanding cuisine, the impeccable service, great sommelier Maurizio Cerio: a real dream!

Interested in a luxurious, gourmet food and wine vacation in Capri and the south of Italy? We organize wine tastings with Angelo in Capri and he can  also show our guests intimate small vineyards on the island, contact us for more info.

Eating responsibly and deliciously at Trattoria La Madia in Northern Italy

By Simona Piccinelli, Italy Specialist

Eating responsibly and deliciously in Italy

Imagine a tiny village set amid the Italian hills, 650 meters above sea level, hidden off the beaten track, but only minutes from Lake Iseo and the Franciacorta wine region.

Eating responsibly and deliciously in Italy

Imagine a cozy place, where hosts Michele and Silvia warmly welcome you like a long lost friend, taking the time to explain to you their food, cuisine and general philosophy about life. Here you are not rushed, and you completely understand the true meaning of conviviality.

Eating responsibly and deliciously in Italy

Imagine a wine list with a wide choice of local wines, carefully selected by Silvia from small wine producers. The wines are mostly only found in Italy and are offered at amazing prices.

Eating responsibly and deliciously in ItalyEating responsibly and deliciously in Italy

Imagine an impressive cheese selection, from the area, but also from the rest of Italy and France. Michele knows each producer personally (you will find all their details on the menu). He tastes and picks each cheese as he knows well that each one is different and standardization has nothing to do with farmers production.

Eating responsibly and deliciously in Italy

Eating responsibly and deliciously in Italy

Imagine a delicious, never banal, local and traditional cuisine, from lakes, mountains and the planes, which have rescued lost and forgotten flavours. A cuisine where you can really taste the terroir, its peculiarities and singularities with a hint of modernization and personalitation.

Malfatti with Bagoss Cheese

Malfatti with Bagoss Cheese

Grilled Pigeon with Polenta

Grilled Pigeon with Polenta

Freshwater Fish Fritto Misto

Freshwater Fish Fritto Misto

Imagine a restaurant where the industrialization of food (homogeneous, un-seasonal, repeatable) is blessedly absent here and all ingredients come from small farmers, where ZeroMiles food is a reality, where you have producers details of all ingredients on the menu if you want to go and buy directly, or simply know what you are eating. A restaurant which serves only meat from free ranged animals, who had a decent life.

Stop imaging as this place exists! Trattoria La Madia, near Brescia in Northern Italy, is a haven for foodies with a conscience.

La Madia

And you, do you think eating is an agricultural act?

Do you think your food choices impact on agriculture, on how it is sustainable and ecological?

Do you eat responsibly?

Do you think at yourself as a consumer or a co-producer?

Check out this interesting piece on Eco Literacy by Wendell Berry and we would love to hear your opinion on this topic.

2011 Michelin Stars for Italy Presented in Milan Today

Posted by gen On November - 24 - 2010

The results are out for Italy´s Michelin stars, presented today in Milan at the Principe di Savoia hotel.

Michelin Stars Italy 2011


New Three Stars- none, same as this year. These are:

Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence

La Pergola dell’Hilton in Rome

Al Sorriso in Soriso

Da Vittorio in Brusaporto

Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull’Oglio

Le Calandre in Rubano

Michelin Stars ItalyNew Two Stars:

Jasmin  in Chiusa

Bracali in Massa Marittima

So the current list of restaurants in Italy that have 2 stars for 2011 are:

Antica Corona Reale da Renzo in Cervere

Duomo in Alba

Miramonti l’altro in Concesio

Sadler in Milan

Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan

Cracco in Milan

Il Ristorante Trussardi alla Scala in Milan

Villa Crespi in Lake Orta

Combal Zero in Rivoli, Torino province

Piccolo Lago in Verbania

La Peca in Lonigno

Met in Venice

Perbellini in Isola Rizza (Verona)

Il Desco in Verona

Trenkerstube in Tirolo (Südtirol)

St Hubertus in Badia

Jasmin in Chiusa

Osteria Francescana in Modena

San Domenico in Imola

La Frasca in Cervia

Rigoletto in Reggiolo

Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole

Da Caino in Montemerano

Da Bracali in Massa Marittima

Il Pagliaccio in Roma

Il Mosaico dell’Hotel Manzi in Ischia

Don Alfonso in Sant’Agata dei due Golfi

Taverna del Capitano on Amalfi Coast

Quattro Passi in Nerano

Torre del Saracino in Vico Equense

Rossellinis at Palazzo Sasso, in Taormina

Il Duomo in Ragusa Ibla

La Madia in Licata

Combal Zero

Restaurants awarded their first star:

Locanda del Pilone in Alba

Villa d’Amelia in Benevello

Osteria del Borgo in Borgosesia

L’Olivo in Capri

La Capanna di Eraclio in Codigoro

Le Petit Restaurant in Cogne

La Casa degli Spiriti in Cosermano

Il Papavero in Eboli

Bistrot in Forte dei Marmi

Pier Bussetti al Castello di Govone in Govone

Al Castello di Alessandro Boglione in Grinzane Cavour

Villa Maiella in Guardiagrele

La Cassolette in La Salle

Strada Facendo in Modena

Il Baluardo in Mondovi

La Locanda di Piero in Montecchio Precalcino

La Cantinella in Naples

The Cook in Nervi

Bye Bye Blues in Palermo (Mondello)

La Locanda del Notaio in Pellio Intelvi (Lake Como)

Il Postale in Perugia

Antica Corte Pallavicina in Polesine Parmense

All’Oro in Rome

Giuda Ballerino in Rome

Il Convivio Troiani in Rome

Il Povero Diavolo in Torriana

Locanda Margon in Trento

Enoteca Henri in Viarregio

Enoteca La Torre in Viterbo

Al Capriolo in Vodo Cadore

And the bad news:

Restaurants that went from 2 to one star:

Arquade in San Pietro In Cariano

And from 1 to no star:

La Siriola in Alta Badia

Cà Daffan  in Arzignano (closed)

Pinocchio in Borgomanero

MI LEAR in Briosco

Sole in Castel Maggiore

La Lucanda in Cavenago di Brianza

Il Gelso di San Martino in Cazzago San Martino

Lido Lido in Cesenatico (closed)

Il Postale in Città di Castello (closed)

La Cantinetta in Felino

Maso franch in Giovo

Al Bersagliere in Goito (closed)

La Mora in Lucca (closed)

Hosteria Giusti in Modena


Gallura in Olbia

La Strega in Palagianello

Da Alceo in Pesaro

Baby in Rome


Cà Vegia in Salice Terme (closed)

Mamma Rosa (closed) in San Polo d’Enza

A Spurcacciun in Savona

Al Caval in Torri del Benaco

The 10 Best Female Chefs in Northern Italy- Hot List

Posted by gen On October - 1 - 2010

The 10 Best Female Chefs in Northern Italy- Hot List

by Ivano Martignetti

best female chefs northern italy

When I first started to reflect on this topic, I decided to ask my best friends if they had any idea. Most of them, spontaneously, answered it was their mother or their grandmother. Now, this is funny and interesting at the same time, because it shows how close to our heart and emotional food is for Italians and how subjective a rating can be for all of us..  Anyway, going back to the quest, to highlight the best female chefs in Northern Italy,  I have done  some seriously delicious research and I am sure you won’t be disappointed if you’ll go and try the creations of one of these food artists listed below, in random order:

Isa Mazzocchi, restaurant “La Palta”, Borgonovo Val Tidone (PC)

Isa Mazzocchi is a young chef on the move, many people are wondering why her restaurant has not been awarded with a Michelin star yet, but this just a detail.. Isa Mazzocchi is from the wonderful Tidone Valley around Piacenza and she is proud to transform her passion for her land into lively food creations. The restaurant she runs with her family is a warm place where you can go and taste her menus accompanied with a consistent list of wines from the area and beyond. Some fabulous photos here on Viaggatore Gourmet.

Best femaile chefs Northern Italy
Luisa Valazza, restaurant “Al Sorriso”, Soriso (NO)

The story of Luisa Valazza, a dynamic chef whose restaurant is located in Piedmont,  is an example of bravery and persistence, as the three starred chef started her career 25 years ago out of an emergency! She was running her restaurant with her husband when the former chef decided to leave, that’s when she decided to do it herself, having only 10 days to get ready. The advice of chef friends and an incredible talent lead the restaurant to international success. One could say that the chef who left her in the lurch actually left her the most beautiful gift ever – discovery of her talent!

Al Sorriso

Photo Credit: [email protected]

Nadia Santini, restaurant “Dal Pescatore”, Canneto sull’Oglio (MN)

Portrayed in the international press as the “lady of Italian cuisine” or by French food critics as “the best chef in the world”, Nadia Santini is an example of total devotion to tradition and respect of the surrounding region and terroir. Her secret is in the profound knowledge of the raw ingredients and in the research of the best local ingredients, some of them coming from the kitchen garden between her restaurant and the “Oglio” river.

best female chefs italybest female chefs italy

Antonia Klugman, restaurant “Antico Foledor” c/o Villa Lovaria, Pavia di Udine (UD)

A romantic love story, probably a good script for an Hollywood movie, Antonia Klugman could inspire the next food lovers movie hit, with a young woman studying to become a lawyer who falls desperately in love with cooking struck by an exhibition on TV of Catalan food God Ferran Adrià, gives up law school and embraces her new life as an apprentice. The story has also an happy ending, as Antonia Klugman, after learning from famous and renowned chefs found her own way and is now successfully running “Antico Foledor”, where she spoils her customers with inspired creations made of ingredients from her kitchen garden and an elegant but not intrusive oriental touch. Stay tuned..

Photo Credits: Luigi Cremona http://www.porzionicremona.it/info/

Photo Credits: Luigi Cremona http://www.porzionicremona.it/info/

best chefs northern italy

Paola Budel, restaurant “Venissa”, Isola di Mazzorbo (VE)

Another young chef, another talent to be proud of in the Italian culinary world, Paola Budel studied with mythic masters like Gualtiero Marchesi, also founder of the talent factory ALMA and Michel Roux. She then traveled the world to complete her profile and find new inspirations, coming back from London, Munich, Tokyo and Hong Kong with new dreams and ideas. After working in Milan she now stands out with her style and a precise belief, the use of exclusively km zero ingredients, which means different menus every day, depending on what the local farmers can provide her. This venue is unique in Venice and owned by top Prosecco producer Bisol.

Best chefs northern Italy femaleBest chefs northern Italy female

Viviana Varese, restaurant “Alice”, Milano (MI)

Those who still believe that the best seafood restaurants are in cities near the coasts have not yet tried the specialties of Viviana Varese, chef of restaurant “Alice” in Milan. Viviana started to play around in the kitchen of her parents’ restaurant when she was a kid, her love for seafood is absolute and it’s impossible not to feel it when you finally taste her creations. Make it a priority next time you are in Milan.

best chefs northern italy

Fabrizia Meroi. Restaurant “Laite”, Sappada (BL)

Fabrizia Meroi’s repertoire is an harmonic mix of creativity and tradition, testified by a Michelin star in 1997 and pursued learning first on her own and then with Enzo Da Pra and Vissani. A fairy-tale location in the Dolomites and a meticulous research for the right wines to match with her recipes, make Laite the perfect hideaway from the rest of the world; almost in paradise, considering the privilege of the experience…

best chefs northern italy

Anna Matscher, Restaurant “Zum Loewen”, Tesimo

After all these beautiful stories, if you are struck by remorse for not having pursued your cooking dream, don’t give up! That’s what the story of Anna Matscher will teach you. She was working as a professional masseuse in Vienna when she met her future husband, who inherited a restaurant and shared with his wife the will to revolutionize their lives. Anna finally decided to pursue her dream, went to learn the basics from brilliant German chef Hans Haas and started her new life. She did very well for herself, as she’s now the only Michelin starred female chef in Alto Adige / Sud Tirol!

best chefs northern italybest chefs northern italy

Aurora Mazzucchelli, Restaurant “Marconi”, Sasso Marconi (BO)

Another bright star, committed to emphasizing the quality of the local products carefully avoiding to fall into banality, striving for perfection in her artistic compositions, giving an harmonic touch to everything she creates. The effort made in the kitchen is certainly not spoiled by the wine selection, enriched by her deep appreciation of local rare wines and grape varietals which perfectly match with the chef’s pieces of culinary art.

best chefs northern italy

Benedetta Parodi, “Cotto e Mangiato”, Celebrity TV Chef

This is a special mention not to lose contact with real, every day cooking; meals that any of us can enjoy trying to cook in his own kitchen. Benedetta Parodi, not a professional cook but a “cooking lover” for sure, deserves a mention in this article as she may not be at the same level of the mentioned chefs, but she certainly is a reference for any food lover in need of original ideas, and recipes that can be easily followed by beginners. She contributes to spreading culinary passion and knowledge for those who want to enjoy down to earth cooking,while still enjoying a remarkable food experience worthy of a starred restaurant.

best female chefs

Gualtiero Marchesi….

Gualtiero Marchesi

We could write countless words about Gualiero Marchesi, THE real Maestro of Italian cuisine, but we prefer to quote him directly on how he describes himself:

Gualtiero Marchesi turns 80 and Milan celebrates“I think of myself as a fundamentalist in my relationship with food, because the three fundamental principles “simple, good and beautiful” travel together and each one needs each other”.

Gualtiero Marchesi turns 80 and Milan celebratesIn Milan, at Castello Sforzesco an exhibition dedicated to Marchesi opens on April 17:  the “leit motiv” will be number 7, as musical notes (because Marchesi loves music), as days of the week, as brushstrokes by Hsiao Chin on the Marchesi menu, now his logo.

Gualtiero MarchesiThere will be also works of art by artists Gualtiero Marchesi loves and has been inspired by including Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Piero Manzoni, Giancarlo Vitali, Velasco, Enrico Baj, Hsiao Chin, and Salvatore Sava.

Gualtiero Marchesi

A new book has recently been released for this important occasion called “Marchesi si nasce” (a play on words, as Marchesi in Italian means Marquis), where he talks about his life, his cuisine, his dreams …

Gualtiero Marchesi turns 80

Notable eating in 2009- some of my favorite food experiences in Italy

by Simona Piccinelli, Italy specialist

Here is a compilation of the best dishes I tasted last year- a mix of high-end/creative/traditional/affordable/homey/expensive Italian cuisine:

1. Cuttle fish ink tempura style deep fried scallops with zucchini and clam sauce at Madonnina del Pescatore in the beautiful Marche region.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

2. Fritto misto Piedmont style at Il Centro in Piedmont.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

3. Suckling Pig from the Nebrodi mountains with chocolate sauce at Il Duomo in Sicily.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

4. Spiedo alla Bresciana at Osteria del Maestrì in Lombardy.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

5. Fiorentina (t-bone steak) with Tuscan style beans at Trattoria Toscana in Maremma.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

6. Babà with wild strawberries at Torre del Saracino on the Amalfi Coast.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

7. Traditional lasagne with Fassone breed beef at Locanda da Mariella in Emilia Romagna, gourmet heart of Italy.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

8. Porcini mushrooms in grape leaves at Manuelina on the Italian Riviera.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

9. Bread, black pepper and marsala wine risotto at D’O in Lombardy.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

10. Vico tribute: monococco soup with cuttlefish ink, prawns tartare, mozzarella cream and basil at La Dispensa in Franciacorta.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

11. Fish bbq at Taglio della Falce close to Ravenna.

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

12. Homemade tortelli di zucca with butter and sage made by my mum 😉

Most memorable dishes in Italy 2009

Chefs Tour of Italy

Simona Piccinelli, our Italian food and wine specialist has put together a fabulous suggested week-long itinerary for gourmets wanting to eat their way through Northern  Italy’s best restaurants.  Pour a glass of Italian wine, grab a notebook and read on….

DAY 1- Fly into Milan, pick up car and drive east to the Franciacorta wine region. Check into the Albereta Relais & Chateaux hotel, set amid a vineyard.  Taste Franciacorta wines at La Dispensa or at the Bellavista estate. Tonight for dinner, enjoy dinner at your hotel in Gualtiero Marchesi‘s phenomenal restaurant.

Italy Top Chefs Tour

DAY 2– Drive to Bergamo, one of Northern Italy`s hidden gems. Explore the old town in the higher part of the city . Settle into a splendid lunch at 3 Michelin starred Da Vittorio. After lunch, take in some sightseeing in the città alta and head back to the Albereta wine resort.

Italy top chefs tour

DAY 3– On to Cremona, home of the Stradivarius and another delightful town off the main tourist track. Poke around the small town’s gorgeous churches and small museums and then head to the wonderful 3 Michelin starred Dal Pescatore for lunch. Mega treat. Digest your tasting menu on a charming walk through Mantova afterwards, yet another darling town and stomping grounds of the powerful Gonzagas.

Italy top chefs tour

DAY 4 – Shift gears and head to Lake Garda today. Drive to Torre del Benaco and take a cooking class with  Andrea and Lara at Le Gemme di Artemisia which will be lunch.  (This features in our Garda culinary weekend). Then visit the lake and head to Brescia, an unsung art town nearby where you can have a trendy aperitif. Dinner tonight could be at the beautiful 2  Michelin starred Miramonti L’Altro. Sleep at Albereta again tonight.

Italy top chefs tour

DAY 5 Work your way back to Milano today and visit the sights- cathedral, Brera, etc. Dine at the contemporary and hip 2 Michelin starred Sadler tonight. Sleep at the cute Petit Palais.

Italy Top Chefs Tour

DAY 6- Drive south today to visit Pavia, with its stunning Certosa, monastic complex. Amazing and so close to Milan. Tonight for dinner, finish your top chefs tour of Italy with a divine cena at Trussardi. Sublime.

Italy Top chefs tour

DAY 7- fly home and get your gym membership going again 🙂

Michelin guide Italy 2010


FOODIE NEWSFLASH: This very morning the 2010 edition of the Michelin Red guide for Italy was presented in Milan at the Triennale and we couldn’t miss it!!

by Simona Piccinelli, Italy specialist and Milan correspondent

Just as Gualtiero Marchesi did last year, Ezio Santin (chef and owner of the Antica Osteria sul Ponte in Cassinetta di Lugagnano) has decided not to be in the Michelin guide, as quote “after 33 years under examination, we don’t think a guide can improve our work”.

Is this a new trend of big “grand old men” chefs rejecting the Michelin?

Is Michelin losing its power and authority?

We don’t know and will keep our eyes peeled on this, but in the meantime we are happy to announce that the new 3 star restaurant in Italy, Da Vittorio, is also one of our favorites. Not only for the excellence of their cuisine, but also because the Cerea family happen to also be extremely nice, professional, and generous people. We worked with them during some events and catering and I can really say that they have a special place in my heart!

So “bravo” to Francesco, Bruna, Chicco, Raffaella and Bobo! Father Vittorio (who passed away 4 years ago) would be so very proud of all of them.

Da Vittorio team

The other 3 stars are a carry over from last year, so nothing new to report there. Here is the list of our faves and the dishes we liked most and would kill to try again:

1. Dal Pescatore di Canneto sull’Oglio (Mn)

chef Nadia Santini

Tortelli di zucca
Frog Legs with herbs

2. Enoteca Pinchiorri di Firenze

chef Annie Feolde


All about Burrata
“Agnolotti” filled with polenta and tossed with scampi, tomatoes and black olives

3. La Pergola di Roma

chef Heinz Beck

Lamb with artichokes with garlic purée, sweetbreads and pecorino cheese
Tortelli filled with lamb tossed with pecorino cheese and mint

4. Le Calandre di Rubano (Pd)

chef Massimilaino Alajmo


Cuttle fish cappuccino
Roquefort cheese mousse with iced strawberry crust

5. Al Sorriso di Soriso (No)

chef Luisa Valazza

Sorriso risotto, a dream come true for risotto lovers (like me!) with prawns, artichokes, pine nut kernel and saffron
Fassone beef braised with Barolo sauce

New 2 stars in Italy:

Antica Corona Reale – Cervere (Cuneo)
Piazza Duomo – Alba (Cuneo)
Il Pellicano -Porto Ercole (Grosseto)
La Madia – Licata (Agrigento)
Met dell’Hotel Metropol – Venezia
Il Mosaico – Casamicciola Terme, Ischia (Napoli)
Il Trenkerstube – Tirolo (Bolzano).

New restaurants with 1 star in Italy:

Andreini – Alghero (Sassari)
Kleine Flamme – Vipiteno (Bolzano)
Ortica -Bedizzole (Brescia).
Maxi – Vico Equense (Napoli).
Roof Garden – Bergamo
Vicolo Santa Lucia – Cattolica (Rimini).
L’accanto -i Vico Equense.
Baldin -Genova.
Hotel Cinzia (Vercelli).
Al Vigneto – Grumello del Monte (Bergamo).
Osteria del Pomiroeu – Seregno, Milano.
Sissi – Merano.
Antonello Colonna – Roma
Glass Hostaria – Roma.
Castel Fragsburg – Freiberg (Merano).
La Fenice – Ragusa
Le Robinie – Montescano (Pavia).
La Meridiana – Piove di Sacco (Padova).
Caffè Le Paillotes – Pescara.
Hostaria del Mare (Modena).
Il Piastrino – Pennabilli, Pesaro.
La Fornace – Barbablu di Noli (SV).
La locanda di Bu – Nusco (Avellino)


What made such an impression on me was the number of Michelin starred establishments that closed this year:

4 Mori in Varese, Locanda del Palazzo in Barile (Potenza), Via romana in Bordighera (Imperia), La Bitta nella pergola in Genova, Vesta in Tivoli (Roma), L’Acquamatta in Capolona (Arezzo),  Conti Roero in Monticelli d’Alba (Cuneo), Il Gallopapa in Castellina in Chianti (Siena),  Terrazza in Montecchio di Crosara (VR), L’Arsenale in Cavegnano d’Adda (LO), Castello Banfi in Montalcino (Siena), Fini in Modena.


Have you ever wondered how to become a Michelin inspector? Each inspector  travels over 30.000 km, has over 200 meals in restaurants and spends over 160 nights in hotels, per year. The majority of the inspectors come from hotel schools and/or is well-experienced in the hospitality business. After sending a request to the Red Guide, you will have a meeting with a senior inspector in a restaurant and after that you will have to write a report about restaurant details (service, mise en place, whether your neighbor´s plate was empty or not when he left, etc) and meal details (food quality, cooking, raw materials, etc). If you do a superb good job, you will spend some months in European restaurants with a senior inspector and finally you will be able to work on your own!

The 2010 guide will be released at all fine bookshops on November 26th.