Dal Pescatore, Runate, Italy, a truly memorable and harmonious dining experienceWhat is known today as the restaurant, “Dal Pescatore,” dates back to the 1920s when it was first opened by Antonio Santini and Teresa Mazzi. Share
Dal Pescatore offers a cuisine with deep culinary roots in the Pianura Padana, an area of fertile plains circumscribed by the Po river and its tributaries, among which the Oglio river, along which the restaurant is located. The area includes the provinces of Mantova, Cremona and Brescia in the Lombardy Region, the provinces of Verona and Vicenza in the Veneto Region and the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena in the Emilia-Romagna Region. The produce and recipes from these territories are at the very heart of the dishes Dal Pescatore serves.
The restaurant’s menu starts off with a selection of courses inspired by this traditional, local cuisine. It suggests ways of embracing the philosophy of the restaurant and getting a feel for the traditions of its surroundings.
The “classics” of Dal Pescatore, inspired by the seasonal produce, define the relationship of the restaurant with the territory around it. The first courses are mainly represented by pastas: tortelli di zucca (where the pumpkin filling is scented with a classic blend of amaretto biscuits, mostarda and nutmeg); agnoli in chicken broth; fettuccine with parmesan fondue and white truffles from Alba. These are followed by the rice and risotto first courses: rice in broth with fresh salami and Savoy cabbage pesto; risotto with catfish and chives; risotto with saffron strands and traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena. Last but not least come the soups, and among them the onion and provolone soup.
The “countryside” – characterized by age-old traditions in the use of butter and pigs, of hens, chickens and guinea fowl – provides the ingredients and the recipes for the entrées: a selection of cured meats such as culatello di Zibello; salame from Mantua; ‘gras pistà’ (finely minced lard with parsley and garlic); pig’s trotters with crispy savoy cabbage; sweet-and-sour guinea fowl salad; nettle and egg omelet.
Snails and frogs are two local delicacies which attest to the centuries-old culinary culture of the area. Their presence is fundamental and they can be found both as appetizers and as main courses. It is even possible to compose an entire meal around them. Dishes such as petit gris snails with aromatic herbs and sweet garlic; snail and porcini mushroom soup with bow-tie pasta; and frog’s legs gratin with fines herbes, are among the favorites at the restaurant.
Another key typology of the restaurant’s “classics” are the recipes of fresh water fish, which too can be served either to open the meal or to complete it. It is from these dishes that “Dal Pescatore” – once called “Wine and Fish” – traces its origin: from the baked carp, passed on by the restaurant’s first chef Teresa, to the deep-fried carp and eel, to the citrus-scented soused eel or the grilled eel with garden grown radicchio and the pike with parsley, anchovies and capers.
Among the meat dishes one can find cotechino from Mantua with lentils from Castelluccio; duck breast with aged balsamic vinegar and locally-grown fruit mostarda; pigeon casserole; Barbera- braised ‘cappello da prete’ with yellow polenta. To complete the meal, desserts such as Mardi gras fritters; concord grape pudding; coffee and almond brittle cake; ‘pipasaner’ and zabaione delight the palate.
These are the local dishes that Dal Pescatore proposes with the aim of preserving age-old traditions while offering contemporary accents and standards such as lighter cooking techniques and more balanced menus. In this attempt to create a synthesis between tradition and innovation, various dishes have been adapted to the times, as, for example, the tortelli di zucca, that are now seasoned with less butter and less parmesan cheese to allow every ingredient to express its distinct, clear flavor and consistency.
Over time, the restaurant’s “classics” have been joined by other dishes where its master chefs skilfully combine local produce and practices with those from other Italian and European regions.