Dining in Italy: Dattilo*

Ceraudo is one of the best wineries in Calabria (the ‘foot’ of Italy). It produces wines in the Val di Neto IGP, mainly from local grape varieties pecorello for white and gaglioppo for red. They also have an agriturismo, which has one Michelin star for the restaurant called Dattilo. The restaurant offers tasting menus paired with wines from the winery. We opted for the largest “Dattilo” tasting menu of 10 courses (120 euros) with matching wines (60 euros). There are also smaller tasting menus available, starting at 4 courses for 75 euros with matching wines for 30 euros.

We were the only guests on a Monday evening in September, so we had 3 waiting staff and (if I counted right) 4 kitchen staff taking care of us. We were seated outside on the nice grounds of the agriturismo.

Before the tasting menu started there were some appetizers, to start with fried zucchini flowers sprinkled with ground ginger.

Next was phyllo pastry filled with creamy fresh cheese (similar to burrata) and a sardine concoction that worked very well in combination.

A ‘hamburger’ with ricciola (amberjack fish) and citrus. The appetizers were accompanied by a dry white called Petalia, which is a 50/50 blend of Greco and the local variety Mantonico. A clean and crisp dry wine with nice minerality. A nice set of appetizers that turned out to be a good indication of what was to come, 8/10.

A San Marzano tomato, raw, peeled, with a sauce of green apple and lemon. The tomato was from the farm itself and very flavorful. I think I would have preferred it without the apple and lemon, but it was good. 7/10

It was paired with Grisara, a full bodied dry white from the late-ripening Pecorello variety. This variety was rescued from oblivion by Ceraudi and the wine is excellent. It is not a perfect match with the dish, but it speaks volumes about the quality of the wine that it can handle the sweet & sour flavors of the dish.

The wine was a perfect match for the next dish: romaine lettuce with a lukewarm dressing of baccalà (salted cod). This dish seemed to be inspired by a Ceasar salad. 8/10 because of the good pairing.

Still with the Grisara: anchovies, almonds, and chartreuse (a herb liqueur), and mint. The mint is what made the dish work with the wine. 8/10

A modern take on a classic dish from Calabria od potatoes and bell peppers. The potatoe was cooked in ashes, then peeled, and glazed with caramelized bell peppers. This worked nicely with the next wine, the Cryasusi bronze label rosé, made from Gaglioppo. 8/10

A better pairing with the same rosé was this pork belly with (just a little) honey and covered with chard (more for presentation than flavor). The pork belly was cured and warm but hardly cooked, so more like bacon. 8/10 because of the good pairing.

Next ravioli of smoked eggplant with tomato water. Those dark drops are made of basil. This was paired adequately with the silver label rose, also made from Gaglioppo but aged in oak. Unfortunately the wine was very young (2017) and therefore the oak was not integrated with the wine yet. 8/10

The next dish was quite unusual: thin spaghetti (cooked perfectly) with caramelized citron zest and aniseed. It did work with the same lakes rosé and was very original, but you would not want a full plate of this. 8/10

Back to white with Imyr, an oaked Chardonnay that had the same age problem as the rosé (2017 and therefore the oak hasn’t integrated with the wine yet). Still not a bad wine, and a good pairing for the steamed sea bass with ‘sea bass emulsion’, candied lemon and chard powder (the chard was first dehydrated and then ground into a powder). A nice dish and a good pairing, 8/10.

Then two reds served alongside each other with rack of lamb, some kind of mayo, and portulaca (a local herb that reminded me of sea lavender). The lamb was encrusted and unfortunately cooked medium well. Rack of lamb is one of my favorites, but it has to be medium rare. 7/10

The two reds served with the lamb:

  • Dattilo 2012, 100% gaglioppo, worked very well with the lamb
  • Petrara 2014, 50% gaglioppo, 30% magliocco (another local variety), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, oaked, too young and too much flavor for the lamb

For dessert: olive oil ice cream with amarena cherries and a wine reduction. Nice but nothing special. 7/10

The petit fours were very nice, especially the grape vine leaves made crispy with sugar.

I agree with the one Michelin star for the food. The chef has a very clear style and the dishes have a constant level (no dishes stand out as much better or worse than the others). The dishes are creative, but in many cases I’m not sure that the creative touch added to the dishes. Everything was flavorful and technically well executed (although I am not sure if the lamb was supposed to be medium well). So 8/10 for the food.

For the wines there are two sides. On the one hand the wines are all very good and none of the pairings were bad, and some of the pairings were very good.

On the other hand: this is the restaurant of a winery, so it would make sense to allow the wines to shine. To do that, they would have to be served at the right age (rather than too young), at the right temperature (some of them were served too cold), and with the dishes adjusted to make the wines shine (which seemed not to be the case). So 8/10 for the wine, but it could easily have been much higher.

Compared to the previous Michelin starred restaurants in this trip, I thought that Dattilo was slightly more expensive taking into account the number and type of dishes and the price level of the wines.

We spent the night at the agriturismo as well, and there the value was very good as the room was spacious, the breakfast outstanding, and the grounds include a swimming pool.

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4 thoughts on “Dining in Italy: Dattilo*

  1. The ravioli looked amazing though. I agree with the overcooked leak critique. I often tell my wife that there were two tests I had when I was dating before I met her. The first one was to see if they would order any meat done well in the first date. The second was if they refused to eat uni. I would seriously make decisions about a second date of these two criteria were not met.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lesson in food and wine! Have already set an hour aside after work to begin looking up so much new to me. How professional of the establishment to be willing and able to produce a 10 course degustation just for you . . . even at the price. Lettuce with cod and anchovies with chartreuse – I cannot get my tastebuds into distance-tasting . . . .how innovative . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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